Last week we covered some of the expected effects of Google Panda 4.0 and how it aims at cleaning up the web. One of the steps it will take is to clean up broken links that take users to 404 pages. Unfortunately, the 404 page has become an art form to some as site owners designed special pages to engage and entertain those hapless souls who either didn’t type in the correct URL or just found themselves on a page that didn’t exist… although the 404 pages existed and were a part of the web… some more than sites with bad content!
Wherever there is an opportunity for creativity, someone will go there. When Facebook introduced the cover photo, people started designing their cover photo and avatar to work in conjunction. Before that, there was the four squares across the page and larger avatar, and people designed incredible profiles, despite the nightmare of math and measures.
When people started saying, “hey! As long as there are 404 pages for broken links, and misdirections, lets have some fun with them,” users went out of their way to find these pages. Now, for better or worse, these may become a thing of the past as sites, in order to continue ranking high with Google, will have to sweep clean broken links for the quarterly inspections from Panda as it crawls through the web.
Will the 404 page disappear completely? No one is quite sure to what extent Panda will cut into many web sites. Some site administrators have started mending the “black hat SEO” used for rankings, sending out warnings to other sites to remove weak links to thin content, and looking at every corner of their sites for digital cobwebs. A clean web is a good thing, but some people are fearful of the Panda and wonder how much cleaning will be done, or what the bear will consider weak, thin, or unworthy.
Will 404 pages be one of the no-nos for the web? Just in case, we searched out every cool 404 page we could find, and created this digital museum, of a sort, dedicated to an art form that may disappear. There’s over 100 pages, so refill your coffee or tea. Enjoy!