Google Toolbar Redirects 404 Errors

Google has confirmed that its Google toolbar is generating a custom Google error page when a requested page is not found, generating a “404” error. The toolbar returns the Google-created page when a site’s 404 page is less than 512 bytes long. This approach means that web sites that have created custom pages to handle 404 “page not found” errors will have those pages displayed, while sites without a custom 404 page will have Google toolbar users redirected to a Google search page.

The bottom line: if your web site doesn’t have a custom 404 page to capture errant URLs and user typos, it’s a great day to create one. You’d be surprised how many business sites don’t have these.

The new Google toolbar functionality, which has been noted at TechCrunch and SEOker, has drawn early comparisons to VeriSign’s Sitefinder initiative from 2003, which triggered a heated controversy before being rolled back. It’s not a completely accurate comparison, but one that Google should have expected.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.


  1. One thing has been forgotton here, Internet Explorer (6 and 7, cant rememebr if 5 did) - has been doing this for years! (with a less helpful page) The only potential issue is that the url is sent to Google, which might have privacy concerns. But is entirly opt in/out. Sitefinder was forced upon the internet community with no opt out.

  2. IE 7 provide the same 404 error masage. So from where 404 message comes. From IE7 or Google?