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How Do I Return A HTTP 404 Status Code From A SPA?

I saw a few questions like this around (like this one), but none of them tackle the problem specifically.

So Google is now supporting SPAs and most web browsers do HTML5 pushState.

My AngularJS (but could be any JS thing) website is using the URL to determine an API route. It then performs the API call and then renders the content accordingly.

However, right now Google tagged this site as "being hacked" since EVERY URL returns an HTTP 200 status code (example.com/get-free-viagra included). Fair, but how do I return a 404? Or at least inform Google that this is a not-found page? They don't seem to be providing that information and I'm seriously worried about SEO.

A few ideas came to my mind:

  • Deprecate my current setup (I'm using AWS S3 to host the static website), and use an expressJS box instead, with a middleware that would perform the API call and return the 404 if needed. However, I don't like the approach since it will harm performance (two API calls per frontend request).
  • Use window.location to redirect to a prox instead, with a middleware that would perform the API call and return the 404 if needed. However, I don't like the approach since it will harm performance (two API calls per frontend request).
  • Use window.location to redirect to a proper 404 page. However, I'm not sure if Google will follow it and it's already discouraged to change the URL.
  • Use on not found pages, but I don't feel this is enough.

I'm now frustratingly leaning towards the first option right now.

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Answer

Use window.location to redirect to a proper 404 page. However, I'm not sure if Google will follow it and it's already discouraged to change the URL.

Your assumption is not correct. Google will be very fine if you redirect to a proper 404 page (or a 410). Google will follow it and will be very happy with this information. It wants to know about bogus URLs to make sure these won't be included in their rankings. They will love it !!!

As a reminder, and although it is not the preferred way to perform a redirect, Google accepts and follows pages having a Refresh tag with its delay set to 0, because, in some tricky cases, there is simply no other way to perform a redirect. This is the recommended method for Blogger pages (owned by Google).

Google follows.

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source: stackoverflow.com
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