I am currently in the process of redesigning a job advert site and am trying to put a lot more effort into my SEO.

My question is how should I deal with the URLs that point to job adverts when the advert expires. The options I have thought of so far are:

  1. Return a 404 error and redirect to a 404 page. Will it have an effect on ranking if there are a lot of URLs that return 404s after only being up for a few weeks?
  2. Redirect to job listing page - When the user requests a URL for an advert that has expired just redirect to the main job listing page.
  3. Show the advert but tell the user to has closed - Show the advert page but with a notification that the advert has closed. The issue I see with this is that the user will visit the page, see its closed and then leave the site again which would not be good for rankings
  • have you find the method to handle this ?, I tried unavailable after tag, but google still showing the page in SERP, I think this tag is not considerable anymore, please let me know if you have any other alternative, thanks!.
    – Bala
    Jun 3, 2014 at 7:59

2 Answers 2


If you know before time when this page (job advert) will expire then consider including an unavailable_after META tag (or X-Robots-Tag HTTP response header) to inform search engines (ie. Google) before time:

<meta name="googlebot" content="unavailable_after: 30-Mar-2014 18:00:00 GMT">

Reference: Robots Exclusion Protocol: now with even more flexibility

For a "period of time" after the listing has expired I would go for a hybrid of all 3 of your options...

  • Show the job advert but make it clear that the position is closed. This is informative to users who have bookmarked the page.
  • Provide links to related jobs/pages and perhaps a prominent link to the main job listing page (since you mention that in #2). Providing useful information to the user and keeping their attention.
  • Return a 404 (or perhaps 410) HTTP Status Code (not the default 404 page). This will inform search engines not to index/return the page in search results. 404s are not harmful to ranking - they are a fact of the web.
  • There should be no links to this page on the website itself.

After the "period of time", remove the expired job advert and serve the default 404 page (which should contain relevant links to current job adverts).

  • I'm using this tag in my website, but Google not considering this tag, meaning it still showing in the SERP page(result page) and users hit Access denied(I configured to unpublish the page) in my website. please anyone tell me will this tag is active in Google ? or can I do this in any other way(alternative) ?
    – Bala
    Jun 3, 2014 at 7:54
  • @Bala: How long after the specified date are the pages still appearing in the SERPs? The offical blog post states, "This information is treated as a removal request: it will take about a day after the removal date passes for the page to disappear from the search results.". Emphasis on "about" - I imagine this information is advisory and could be dependent on the crawl rate of your site? The specified date should also be in RFC 850 format.
    – MrWhite
    Jun 3, 2014 at 8:19
  • thanks for the prompt reply, I'm using like this - <meta name="googlebot" content="unavailable_after: 30-Jun-2014 00:54:17 GST" /> is this valid RFC 850 format?
    – Bala
    Jun 3, 2014 at 8:25
  • 1
    @Bala: That certainly matches the date format as given in Google's examples, so it should be OK. However, and this is the odd part, Google's examples do appear to differ from RFC 850 format!? RFC 850 is a bit outdated and includes a weekday prefix and only two digit years, eg. "Monday, 30-Jun-14 00:54:17 GST" (That date is also in the future - but I assume that is intentional?)
    – MrWhite
    Jun 3, 2014 at 9:17
  • Is there an equivalent for Bing or other search engines? I cannot seem to find one.
    – Jan
    Jun 12, 2014 at 13:19

People forget that SEO is about more than just search engines. It is about conversion too. In a proper world, if a page does not exist, a 404 or better yet, a 410 error should be returned. However, that does not help conversion and site usability. Here, a 301 redirect could be used to help capture valuable potential and redirect them to a page that will hopefully engage the user in new activities.

I would say, for a period, a 301 redirect should exist to help convert traffic. Once the old URL has aged and the potential wains, then a 404 should be made to properly drop the page from search engine indexes. How that looks in your metrics and how you make that work, I think is up to your specific needs.

  • 2
    Why do you think a 301 would be more useful than a user-friendly 410 page in this case? The latter is more technically correct, better for crawlers, and won't be seen as a 'soft 404' by Googlebot (see: support.google.com/webmasters/answer/181708?hl=en) Mar 21, 2014 at 18:21
  • A 410 is not user friendly at all. As well, as I had mentioned, it allows the site owner to intelligently manage user expectation and try and satisfy that expectation through engagement. Otherwise, with a 404, or 410, traffic and opportunity is wasted.
    – closetnoc
    Mar 21, 2014 at 18:40
  • 2
    The fact that it's a 410 is invisible to the user. You can control the content shown on this page, and since (in this example) the site knows what job posting was previously at this URL, the page can try to link to similar job postings in order to convert/engage the user as you suggested. There's no advantage in redirecting, but several disadvantages. Mar 21, 2014 at 19:03
  • If a 410 is as you say, it is exactly the same as a 301 (as I handle it) from a users standpoint. I use 301 redirect just fine and capture users that follow old links and citations to a page that no longer exists. Instead, I give them the opportunity to find what they are looking for in other places.
    – closetnoc
    Mar 21, 2014 at 19:13
  • I read the page that you linked to. I have seen this page before. Take some of the Google advice with salt. A 404 or 410 error can be directed to a single page only. I use 301 redirects under conditions to help the user locate what they are looking for or offer options that may please the user. This is the modern way. Where with Google, these pages error(ed) out thus taking them out of the index, anyone following a link gets something for their trouble. This is user friendly.
    – closetnoc
    Mar 21, 2014 at 19:21

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