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A portion of a site that I maintain lists job opportunities available within an organization. The opportunities are listed on a single page with a short description which can be clicked on by the user if they desire more detail.

Here's the site, for reference: http://goo.gl/mQVyO

Question

The opportunities are fluid and change often. They are editable by human resources and change without the knowledge of the programmer (me). As the frequency of the edits/updates/removals increase, I've noticed a lot more 404 errors in my logs.

Currently, I'm redirecting to a 404 page when someone attempts to access an opportunity that no longer exists (they are accessing it from Google primarily).

Is this the best way to handle this from an SEO perspective? I'm finding that the opportunities that have been removed are taking quite a while to be removed from Google's index.

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I've also launched a job site. What're you doing with expired job ads? –  AgA Mar 8 '13 at 9:26
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2 Answers

With a 404, any ranking that would get to the page gets lost because it tells the crawler that the content is no longer there.

In order to maximize ranking potential, one has to redirect with a 301. This tells the crawler that the content has permanently moved and the new target page will be indexed.

Ideally, you want to redirect to the most relevant page possible. There are two ways to handle this:

  1. Keep the old page but mark its content as no longer available. In your case, this means that the removal action would not remove the page but simply mark it and modify it to reflect its new status.
  2. Remove the old page and redirect to a generic one. For a job listing, this could be a page saying: The job you are looking for is no longer available. Please check here for a listing of current opportunities.

The truth this is not just for SEO but equally important to your visitors. Ideally, one should never lose visitors. You should make then land at the most appropriate place and always make it easy for them to continuous on your site for whichever reason they came for.

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When a job goes away don't take down the page. Remove it from the listing of available jobs. Put a big notice at the top of the page that says


This position has already been filled

Here are the other jobs that are available in Mexico

--Full listing of other jobs.

Then leave the details for the filled position in place, but well below the fold.


Alternately, you should 301 permanent redirect to the page that has the listings for that country. The biggest disadvantage of that is that it doesn't give the user an error message that the particular job they were looking for has been filled. It just takes them to the current job listings, which may confuse them.

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