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One of my clients web pages has a error in the theme which calls a redundant .css file that does not exist. The page however, looks fine. Thus the client is not willing to have the error fixed. What reasons can be given for fixing the error when it does not cause any issues with the page display.

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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Http calls have the biggest single impact on front end performance, reducing them should be a priority for every webmaster (even just that one little one that's 404'ing).

From Yahoo's performance guidelines:-

80% of the end-user response time is spent on the front-end. Most of this time is tied up in downloading all the components in the page: images, stylesheets, scripts, Flash, etc. Reducing the number of components in turn reduces the number of HTTP requests required to render the page. This is the key to faster pages.

If you can't fix it, at least put a blank CSS file in the right place so you don't waste time with 404's for it.

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Why would a blank file be any faster than a 404? Assuming the 404 error page's text is minimal is there any speed difference between Apache serving a real file versus the 404 error page file. –  Rincewind42 May 31 '12 at 6:16
    
@Rincewind42, a 200 status is faster than a 404 and it won't clog up your logs. –  toomanyairmiles May 31 '12 at 6:41
    
@toomany What is the reason a 200 status is faster? Doesn't make sense to me - for a linked CSS file the browser is unlikely to bother downloading the response if it says 404. –  DisgruntledGoat Jun 1 '12 at 15:15
    
@DisgruntledGoat we're talking milliseconds, and it vairies by server setup but the 200 header length is about half of a 404 and the 404 log entry is longer. Some of the sites I've worked have huge traffic. c. 25 million visits annually and billions of page views so eliminating 404ing files, even stuff that's invisible to the user really helps overall performance. –  toomanyairmiles Jun 1 '12 at 19:45
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In regards to the mega SEO engine that is Google....

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/05/do-404s-hurt-my-site.html

Basically, no. It does not hurt anything, including your SEO priority.

You could argue that it wastes a few milliseconds generating that 404....

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