How to fix “Not found (404)” in Google Search Console

How to fix “Not found (404)” in Google Search Console

“Not found (404)” is the status of Google Search Console. This means that your page is responding with a 404 HTTP response code because its content does not exist. It also indicates that the page is not indexed.

If you are running a large website, it is completely normal to find some “Not Found (404)” pages on your website. However, how you approach them may be essential to user experience and budget optimization crawl.

Reasons for “Not found (404)”

If you see “Not found (404)” in the page indexing report (index coverage) in Google Search Console, this means that:

  • Googlebot contact you to retrieve a specific page,
  • The server could not find the requested URL, so it responded with a 404 HTTP response code.

The overall result for you is always the same – users also can’t find your content, and it’s not indexed.

However, the possible reasons why the server may respond with a 404 status code may vary:

Remove a page

Web site management, may happen Accidentally removed a page. If it is an important page with many links pointing to it, you may contribute to losing significant traffic to your website.

but You may also wish to have your content removed on purpose.

Here are some reasons why you might want to do this:

  • Optimize for duplicate content that is of no value to your business and users, and that you don’t want to edit.
  • Having orphaned pages that don’t drive traffic to your website, but that you can’t link to or redirect to.
  • Address unavailable product pages that no longer have a search query or backlinks and do not return to your website.
  • Hide content that you unintentionally published on a production site, for example, during a website migration.

There is nothing wrong with removing a page that does not bring commercial value to your website or may harm its SEO.

As long as you can’t address your issues in any other way (for example, modify or redirect your content), feel free to set up a 404 status code.

Change the structure of the URL

Your website is constantly changing, so it’s normal for some URLs to change over time.

But remember that if the link pointing to a page is incorrect, the server will not provide users with the requested content because it cannot find it.

Another case is when you make a misspelling of the URL when manually adding links or typing to enter a specific page.

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Such errors may concern, for example,

  • Alternatively spelled words (optisation vs optization), or
  • Adding spaces to the URL will be replaced by the string %20 (example.com/red-20%car)

The change may seem insignificant to you. However, for search engine bots, any small difference in the URL is interpreted as a different URL.

How to fix “Not Found (404)”

Or not, Browse the list of affected pages in the page indexing report (index coverage) To check whether it is the result of your deliberate decision.

how-to-fix-not-found-404-in-google-search-console - 1 How to Fix 404 Not Found in Google Search Console

Also, if you run a large website, go for easier 404 pages with an SEO crawler like Screaming Frog or WebSite Auditor.

Troubleshoot “Submit URL not found (404)”

Another thing you need to check is Ensure that your XML sitemap does not include any “Not Found (404)” pages. “

“Submit URL Not Found (404)” was previously a separate status in the page indexing report.

Now, you can filter the affected URLs in the upper left corner to All Pages Submitted on the status page.

how-to-fix-not-found-404-in-google-search-console - 2

Ideally, since your sitemap should only include pages that respond with the 200 status code, you should not find any URLs in the “All Submitted Pages” list (or, as in the past – under the “Submission URL does not exist” status (404).”)

Otherwise, it could mean the following things:

  • You don’t want the page to be indexed anymore You removed a submitted page but didn’t update the sitemap file, or you updated the sitemap, but it contains the wrong page anyway.

Make sure to update your sitemaps every time you make changes.

And remember that even though you commit your changes, they won’t be picked up right away. Check the All Pages Submitted report again when Google recrawls your sitemap.

  • You want the page to be indexed You have added your page to the sitemap and then removed the URL by mistake.
  • Your sitemap contains URLs that you are not interested in being indexed. In this case, follow best practices for creating SEO XML sitemaps, as such an approach may waste your crawling budget.

Set up 301 redirects

Consider redirecting the “Not found (404)” page. When:

  • moved your content to another page that is semantically relevant,
  • You removed your page, but you have another relevant page on your website, and you want users to go there,
  • You removed the page that was using to deliver traffic or still has a search query for the keywords you’re targeting, and
  • Many pages have internal and external links that point to “Not Found (404)” so you can pass authority to a specific page.

In the ideal scenario, After the correct redirect (And after Google re-crawled the URL)the “Not Found (404)” page will change its status to “Redirect page in the Google Search Console.

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After that, a particular page remains unindexed, but (mostly) users are automatically redirected to another page, and the accumulated PageRank is moved to the page you point to.

However, remember that you should not rush to redirect your “Not found (404)” pages to contextually unrelated pages just for the sake of redirection. Otherwise, it may contribute to other problems on your website.

For example, in the case of an e-commerce site, watch out for product pages redirecting to your homepage, as bots might see it as a “Soft 404” error.

Are you about to redirect your 404 page? Dive into our ultimate guide to retargeting to explore the topic further and avoid potential mistakes.

Monitor internal and external links

When you think a certain page shouldn’t exist, so it’s correctly returning the 404 HTTP status code, make sure it’s not widely linked across your website and from external resources.

you may replacing internal links 404 pages with links to relevant pages which responds with status code 200.

When it comes to external linking, you can contact the sites linking to you and ask them to update links that no longer exist. However, I understand that this is not always possible, especially if there are thousands of backlinks pointing back to your page.

In this case, Do a 301 redirect to an existing page (or consider creating new, relevant content that you can redirect to), or Set up the 410 HTTP status code.

Analyze bad URL issues

You may find some URLs that you don’t recognize as part of your website structure because they didn’t exist. These problems are often the result of a user typing error.

Start by analyzing how common these errors are. If they occur occasionally, you can ignore them.

But when you see that a certain type of error is commonly repeated, you should Thinking of redirecting users to the right page.

The situation is a little different when the URL is incorrect, but you can guess which page it is supposed to point to. Your further actions depend on where this link comes from:

  • If you added the wrong link yourself, Browse your website structure to edit or update your links, or
  • If the incorrect link points to the website from an external source, Ask its provider to update the link or redirect to the correct URL.

Remember that you will not be able to predict these errors and protect yourself from them. The best thing you can do is regularly monitor “Not Found (404)” pages for frequently repeated patterns.

Set up HTTP status code 410

HTTP status code 410 indicates that a specific page has been removed from your website.

Although, according to Google, They treat status codes 404 and 410 the same way over timeRemember, bots need to crawl “Not Found (404)” pages to learn about their status. But since you don’t specify what exactly happened to your page (they just know it doesn’t exist), they’re more likely to go back to it and check if anything has changed.

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Consider setting the 410 status code as follows:

  • Confirms that your page has permanently disappeared from your website, and
  • It may remove your page from search results faster than a standard 404.

Why you should optimize your 404 pages

Although some “Not Found (404)” pages are inevitable, leaving them unoptimized can contribute to other problems on your website.

Here’s why you should monitor the way 404 pages affect both your business and SEO:

Avoid negative user experience

Most likely, no matter how users entered the “Not Found (404)” URL, they weren’t looking for a blank page.

Not seeing any content on the target page may create a negative user experience. How users feel about your website directly affects your conversion rates.

Therefore, you need to make sure that your visitors do not feel lost when they encounter 404 pages on your website.

A good practice is to create a custom 404 page that is not only visually appealing, but specifically informs users of:

  • Why do they see a “Not Found (404)” page?
  • What’s more they might take actions on your website, for example, reading your top articles.

By creating a 404 sound page, you can encourage users to stay on your website even though they can’t explore the exact page they want.

Learn how to create a custom 404 page for your website by reading my colleague’s article.

Save your crawl budget

Google does not have unlimited resources to crawl everything on the web.

If bots can freely crawl your “Not found (404)” pages, they may never reach the most valuable pages on your site before wasting your crawl budget.

If you think this may be the case for you, go to our crawl budget optimization services to unlock the full crawling potential of your website.

Maintain potential traffic and ranking signs

If you have many internal and external links pointing to your 404 pages, you shouldn’t leave them as is.

In this case, consider the potential benefits of moving your backlog PageRank when doing a 301 redirect.

By redirecting your pages, you reduce the risk of losing your traffic. This may directly impact your business goals, such as selling your products.

Summary

  1. Regardless of the reason behind it, when the server responds with a 404 status code, it means two things: it can’t find your page, and Google won’t be able to index it.
  2. If you are sure that a particular page does not exist, consider setting up a 301 redirect to keep traffic flowing to another page and transfer the accumulated page authority.
  3. Create a custom 404 page to reduce negative user experience and keep visitors on your website.
  4. Sometimes 404 pages can result from uncontrolled chaos in your industry and lack of a proper technical SEO strategy. Contact us to receive personalized recommendations to work with your issues.

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