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I started getting 404s showing up in my Google Webmaster's Tools from a site linking to a specific category but with odd characters at the end of the URL. So Something like this:

http://example.com/category/puppies%EF%BC%9A.textwidget%E8%A6%81%E7%B4%A0%E7%B7%A8%E9%9B%86

Google Webmaster says that there are about 120 of these links and I can imagine there will be more to come. What is the best way to handle these links from an SEO point-of-view?

I have heard 301 redirecting too many links at one time can cause Google to ding the site but I don't want this site to continue posting broken links. Any help on this would be appreciated.

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3 Answers

  1. Return status code of 404...
  2. Try to figure out the purpse of the request: if the requested path was: /animals/dogs/not-existing-dog-type -> than show move the user to the dogs section
  3. Your main consideration should be how to help your users in this case, and Google will be happy too, just give return 404 status code.

Bottom line : return 404 status code + location to redirect the user to automatically.

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I use ASP.NET and on the 404 page I entered code which examined the original request by splitting the url by forward slash and then working out what category or page the original request was for. I would then either forward (by code on the page) or provide links.

For SEO, I don't think it matters since the page URL is so unusual I would doubt Google will index it and 2), visitors are coming from another webpage, not via Google!

If the link in question is a main source for your website, then that is different.

If not and you want to sort this another way, you can get the http referrer and just have them forward to the home page if that http referrer hits your 404 page!

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I've read a book that suggested that you create a descriptive 404 error. Make sure you put the code followed by file not found. Then you can provide either a link to another page, such as your home page or another idea would be to put a search field there and tell the user they can search for the item they are looking for.

My suggestion for the broken links comming in. If you know the site look up the whois and contact the webmaster if you think it is possibly a bug in the programming. It happens. That would solve the problem. Note on privatized records send an email to the privitized email and it will get through.

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