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We have decommissioned an old website and replaced the homepage with a similar static page stating that the offer is no longer available.

  • We are returning the homepage with a 200 header if navigated to directly.
  • We are returning the homepage with a 404 header for resources that cannot be found (including all the old pages that used to have content).

Is this good practice for this scenario? We could feasibly return a 404 for direct navigation to the homepage as well or create a separate 404 page for resources that cannot be found.

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    "We are returning the homepage with a 404 header resources that cannot be found" - what does that mean?
    – MrWhite
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 17:31
  • I would think that anytime a user gets a valid page they should be greeted with a hardy howdy-do 202 instead of the dreaded middle-finger of a 404.
    – closetnoc
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 18:23
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    @w3dk Sorry, I missed out a word and have corrected it. We basically serve the static homepage html as both the homepage and as the 404 page.
    – Arth
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 9:04
  • @closetnoc 202 seems wrong here, did you mean 200? Although, they aren't valid resource locations anymore, and 404 isn't so much a middle finger as an empty room!
    – Arth
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 9:08
  • @Arth Ooopppsss!! Typo! At least it rhymes! Cheers Mate!!
    – closetnoc
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 15:01

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Returning the same page (or rather, the same "content" - I assume you are not literally redirecting to the homepage?!) with different status codes does seem a bit "wrong". Although this isn't necessarily "bad" - the website is decommissioned after all.

We are returning the homepage [stating that the offer is no longer available] with a 200 header if navigated to directly.

This seemed odd initially when first reading... if the website is "decommissioned" then why not just return a 404 for everything? However, depending on what the site previously offered, it may be preferable for Google to index this "notice" so users can find it. (?)

We are returning the homepage with a 404 header for resources that cannot be found (including all the old pages that used to have content).

Whilst I don't think this is necessarily "bad", I think it would be preferable to return a more customised 404 which either contains the additional information about the site being decommissioned or links to the homepage (where they can get more information). That way, the homepage (content) only ever returns a 200 OK and it's more immediately obvious to the user that the resource does not exist.

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    '[A customised 404 is] more immediately obvious to the user that the resource does not exist.' - I think that's the answer right there!
    – Arth
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 8:32

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