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Obviously when a website disappears Google etc will stop indexing it at some point, but is there some way for a web server to provide a more formal response indicating that a website is permanently closed, such as setting it to return a particular http status code?

When I try to open in Chrome a website I closed recently I get (actual domain swapped to example.com):

This site can’t be reached

The webpage at http://example.com/ might be temporarily down or it may have moved permanently to a new web address. Search Google for example com ERR_NAME_RESOLUTION_FAILED

With the above kind of error (which may be temporary), it may take some time for search engines to stop retrying a crawl of the site before it gets deindexed. Ideally I'm interested in a way of speeding up that process.

  • Why do you care? If the site is gone and search engines link to it and people click the link and find nothing, why is that a problem? FWIW, that error is not temporary, that is the error returned when a domain does not exist in DNS. If you are worried about losing visitors to the old domain, simply keep the domain for a while and do a 301 redirect – Steve Jul 20 '16 at 22:56
  • @Steve Our client doesn't want their site to appear in search results any more. The site will be permanently closed. – Highly Irregular Jul 20 '16 at 23:00
  • If the domain name exists but does not resolve to an IP address, then your problem is solved. It will take some time, however, Google, Bing, and others will delist the site toot sweet! Cheers!! – closetnoc Jul 21 '16 at 4:28
3

You can use the HTTP status code 410, which stands for Gone:

The 410 (Gone) status code indicates that access to the target resource is no longer available at the origin server and that this condition is likely to be permanent.

[…]

The 410 response is primarily intended to assist the task of web maintenance by notifying the recipient that the resource is intentionally unavailable and that the server owners desire that remote links to that resource be removed.

For the human visitors you could display a message (on the 410 pages) that the site is gone and won’t come back.

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