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I use Autoptimize (AO) for pagespeed optimization. Everything is good on that front, but I notice that I often get 404 pages in my logs, typically from Google and other bots (I assume), trying to access old AO JS files that were purged/overwritten. There are a few threads on this in the AO WordPress support forum and the consensus approach seems to be to use .htaccess to change those 404 responses to 410 but nobody really discussed what impact this might have on SEO.

I am not knowledgeable about SEO but I did read a bit on the difference between 404 and 410. I get the idea and it makes sense when I think about an entire page. But, in this case, the original page that referenced the now missing JS files is still alive and working, except it now calls on a different AO-generated external JS script.

So, maybe my question is too general/vague, but I am wondering what the implications are from a search engine perspective? Is the idea of sending 410 responses a good solution to this issue? If not, any idea of a better way to handle things?

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The 404 or even 410 is miss understood by many webmasters, errors do not always imply something is broken.

404 and 410 status's on non-existent resources linked by no pages has absolutly no impact on SEO. It's important to note that Google or Bing does no actively punish sites for dozens, hundreds or thousands of intended 404's.

  • And unlike pages, Google isn't trying to rank JS files. There is no benefit to redirecting them for link juice purposes. – Stephen Ostermiller Jul 31 '17 at 9:35
  • Thanks. I think I see your point about not linking and no punishment but does Google/Bing consider the parent page somehow broken because the script it calls no longer exists? And, if so, does it not care about that issue in terms of ranking? – Mojamba Jul 31 '17 at 16:32
  • Google/Bing Judge, score and rank pages as they are crawled. If you delete a resource from a page then Bing or Google will only become aware about that resource when they re-crawl that page. So, again absolutely no punishment SEO wise. – Simon Hayter Jul 31 '17 at 16:41
  • That makes sense but in the forum it was said that the reason the 404s were showing up in the logs was because Google crawls asynchronously. In other words, Google visits the page, notes the resources referenced but doesn't examine them at that moment, rather returning at a later time to do so. Or, at least, that was the way I understood it. Thus, when the bot returns, it is doing so for only the resources not the entire page and it cannot find them. Does that sound accurate to you? If so, will the bot just revisit the entire page and therefore no problem or will it think the page is broken? – Mojamba Jul 31 '17 at 17:03
  • That is incorrect... some sites have hundreds of thousands of pages, imagine this was the case... simply upgrading there site with new css and javascript would mean their rankings would drop over night and take several months for Google to revisit every single page to find out that it no longer uses that CSS/JS it once did and therefore with your assumption, it would taken many months for them to return their SEO they once have. Google can associate pages with blocked resources but that is entirely different than 404/410 because Google can't render the pages without permission from robots.txt – Simon Hayter Jul 31 '17 at 21:21

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