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I have one content type, as well as several vocabularies (taxonomy) that are only shown on the site through views and therefore should not be accessible on their own. I'm using the rabbit hole module to prevent that from happening.

My question is this: from an SEO point of view, is it better to use a 301 redirect (to the front page), or a "page not found" response?

Maybe I should point out that the site isn't online yet, so it hasn't been crawled by search engines.

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It's really up to you what you want to do but the way I see it, if a user goes to a random non-existing path on your site they will get a 404 error, so if the rabbit hole page is a page the user should never be able to get to then it should also be a 404 error because as far as that user is concerned it is not a valid page.

Now if you redirect all 404 errors to your home page or search page or something then these pages should have the same behavior.

If the page is something that anonymous users cannot see but a paying member can (or some similar scenario), then it may make more sense to set rabbit hole to a 403 error, because it is a page that they can't currently see but could see if they log in.

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  • Thanks for your answer. Yes, it makes sense: those pages are simply not supposed to exist. 404 it is, then. (No, I'm the only user on this site.)
    – s427
    Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 10:07
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Usually I would recommend a 301 redirect – if the contennt really has moved to a new location. But in this case, redirecting from various pages to the front page, a 301 would not be recommendable – at least from a SEO point of view. When a search engine reads a 301, it interpretes it as "this content has move permanently to a new location". But in your case that's not the case – and so I would fear that a 301 could actually fire back. The pages you basically just wanted to hide from the user will probably disappear from the search indexes one by one.

Instead I personally would probably use javascript for forwarding users to the front page. The user experience is close to a 301 redirect – but for search engines javascript is mostly not functional so that the pages you just wanted to hide from users can actually stay in the search indexes.

I haven't tried the rabbit hole module myself – but since it seems to be able to have search engines crawl, while users are redirected, at least it sounds worth trying.

ps: just saw your comment on the accepted answer: "those pages are simply not supposed to exist". Well – then it's probably / almost all the same.

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  • Thanks for your answer. Actually my content hasn't been put online yet (it's still in development), so I agree that a 301 wouldn't make much sense.
    – s427
    Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 10:18

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