This is our 410th Daily Golden Nugget. In honor of that number we're going to explain the very powerful, potentially harmful, and rarely used website status code "410."
The technology that makes every website run has a hidden set of numerical background status codes that are shared between web servers and your computer. Off the top of your head you might already know of the codes 200, 301, 404, or 500. You won't find these codes in Google Analytics, but often times you will see these numbers in your website log files.
Most of the 40 or so status codes used on a website are obscure and used for troubleshooting. The 4 codes above are among the most popular, but we're skipping over an explanation of them today so we can concentrate on 410.
The 410 code is akin to Botulinum toxin (Botox) in that 410 can kill your website, but used correctly it also provides a very powerful way to fix unwanted problems. We actually do mean "kill" your website. The 410 code is used to tell Google, Blekko, Bing, or any other search engine that your website is deleted, never to return.
When the search engines see the 410 code they are supposed to immediately remove your web page from their database, then forget about it. All your pages are removed, including months or years of SEO value you've been building. If not intentional, is probably the worst situation to happen to your website because you have to start all over again.
On the other hand, here three good reasons you would want to use 410 to kill your website.
1. To kill your off-site blog.
This is probably the most common use of the 410 that we know of. Any blog that is not part of your jewelry store site has the potential to become more popular than the store's site. This is usually not desirable since you're effectively leading buying customers away from the website that makes money.
When this happens, you will need to consolidate your blog site into your store's site, perhaps using jewelrystore.com/blog as the new location. Then you need to have your old blog site killed. It's not enough to delete the pages because Google will still show lingering remnants in the SERP for a long time. You need it dead, and you need it dead right now. That's where 410 comes in.
2. To kill your secondary website.
Some of our more savvy readers own more than 1 domain name for their jewelry store, each domain is also a different website. For example, a jewelry store might have a website dedicated to their brick & mortar store, and another one dedicated to selling discounted jewelry.
In this scenario the jeweler is using a different business name on the discounted jewelry site. At some future date the jeweler decides to close one of the websites and simply wants to avoid further association with the site. Applying the 410 status to the unwanted website will kill the SERP and prevent future customers from finding you.
3. You've gone out of business.
If it's time to pack up and retire you shouldn't leave the permanent legacy of your website after you've gone. Ask your web hosting company to replace your website with the 410 status. This doesn't benefit you at all, but it is a nice thing to do so future customers are upset or confused when they find out you're gone.
There are other reasons to use 410 to refresh your SEO, but these 3 examples are good enough to explain what 410 is.
Since the 410 status is very powerful, it's not something mere mortals have access to. In order to activate 410, and kill a website, internal website settings need to be activated. This is something your paid hosting company will have to do for you.