301 to 404 gets 200 – oops! (From the Forums)

In another installment of the From the Forums column, today we have an interesting thread about a website that updated its content and used 301 redirects to migrate users to the new content. However, the transition to the new content in the Bing index was taking longer than they expected. The old content was not fading away.

The amazing volunteer members of our community jumped right in and began examining the site in question. It was soon uncovered that the 301 redirects implemented by the site were also applied to a custom 404 error message page, which itself provided search engines with a 200 OK code, thereby indicating that everything is good (instead of the typical 404 File Not Found error, which would facilitate the removal of those page listings from the index). Brett Yount, our forums administrator, did a quick check with the Bing engineering team, who confirmed that this was the likely reason the old content remained in the Bing index. The webmaster for the site is now looking into the matter with his web team with specific resolution advice in hand for resolving this situation.

This is an interesting case of having a content migration plan in place and demonstrating wise patience for changes to propagate through the system. But when an undiscovered error in the migration plan’s implementation occurred, thereby preventing the desired result with search, the webmaster came to the Webmaster Center forum to get the advice they needed to resolve the issue. Check out Again….301 Redirect issue with Bing…going crazy here to see the whole conversation.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to post them in our Webmaster Center forums. Later…

— Rick DeJarnette, Bing Webmaster Center

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