Google Search Console: What should I do with old 404 errors?

By | August 13, 2019


JOHN MUELLER: Today’s question
comes from San Francisco. What should I do with
404s in Search Console that are from ancient
versions of my site? So sites evolve over time,
URLs change, you add redirect, redirects get dropped
over the years. Sometimes URLs are
just no longer needed. These URLs end up returning
404, so they show up in Search Console
as crawl errors, but what does that mean? When an invalid
URL is opened, it’s the right thing for a server
to return a 404 page not found error. When doing a restructuring
of your website, we recommend redirecting
from old URLs to the new ones and updating the links
that go to the old URLs to point to the
new ones directly. However, over time,
you might decide to drop those redirects, maybe
because of the maintenance overhead, or just maybe
you forget about them. These URLs are now
404s in Search Console. In your server
logs or analytics, check for traffic to those URLs. If there is no
traffic, that’s great. In Search Console, check
for links to those URLs. Are there no relevant links? That’s great too. If you see nothing special
in either the links or the traffic, having
those pages return 404 is perfectly fine. If you do see
traffic to those URLs or see links pointing
at those URLs, check where they’re coming
from and have those links point at the new URLs instead. Or, if it looks like a
lot of traffic or links are going to those URLs,
perhaps putting a redirect back in place would be
more efficient. That works for a
few crawl errors, but what if you have
a ton of 404 errors? Search Console makes this easy. It prioritizes crawl
errors for you. If the top errors in the
report are all irrelevant, you can rest assured that
there is nothing more important further down on the list. Crawl errors for 404s that
you don’t want to have indexed don’t negatively affect
the rest of your site in search, so take your time
to find a good approach that works for you. If you found that useful, please
like and comment on the video so that we know to
make more of them.

34 thoughts on “Google Search Console: What should I do with old 404 errors?

  1. Egochi Post author

    Thank you, this was helpful. Could you do a video on the worlds toughest questions, how to rank on Google?

    Reply
  2. Upside of Downsizing® Post author

    These videos provide very helpful info- thanks!

    Reply
  3. Dan Green Post author

    Thanks for another succinct, easy to follow video. I'm loving this series.

    Reply
  4. Ankit Verma Post author

    If 404 page are coming again and again in search console but 404 page before they exist in website. After that, we delete this page and also redirect that page for new one page. Now they didn't exist in website and database we check the all over the place. But they come again in search console. So how do I resolved this 404 problem?

    Reply
  5. GamerDX Post author

    I am not able to index my new blog posts in google. I tried google search console's fetch render option also I tried to directly submit the url but it still not indexed and it is two weeks when I posted the article. Please help me how I figured it out.

    Reply
  6. Shooky Galili Post author

    Yes, I found that useful and please make as much of them as you can. I never missed a video by Matt Cutts over the years and it paid many many times. I'm sure that John's videos will prove as valuable.

    Reply
  7. Richard Post author

    "10 ways to rank no.1 in the Google SERPs" would be a great video…

    Reply
  8. soma elgamal Post author

    Good evening or good morning any time you see the message.

    I want to solve the problem of not sending the site in the Google site and stopping the sudden download of any topic in the Google search engine .

    Reply
  9. Santosh Jakhmola Post author

    Sir ..Google webmaster tools not working in this month …Please tel me ..why . Google not crawl my site properly and I lost 80% viziters in this month ..

    Reply
  10. Adam Humphreys Post author

    This was good because it's coming from Google and not just myself. It's nice having videos to quickly reference to send to clients for quick reference. In the clients case they had many 404s from an old site architecture and were missing out on old benefits from prior links to them.

    Reply
  11. Samuel Lavoie Post author

    Good video format. Thanks for the emphasis on log files and analytics to check for traffic left AND to check for any links pointing to those URLs. 👍

    Reply
  12. Michael Lewittes Post author

    Thank you! We've done so much cleanup and we wondered about the 404s. This was very helpful.

    Reply
  13. Ryan Mendenhall Post author

    Hey John, thanks so much for the video. Two questions: 1) I hear many saying that 404s take up Googlebot's crawl budget for your site, thus it's good to redirect them all. Is this ever true? 2) How does Search Console prioritize crawl errors? I'm assuming it's by clicks from search?

    Reply
  14. Ryan Mendenhall Post author

    Hey John, thanks so much for the video. Two questions: 1) I hear many saying that 404s take up Googlebot's crawl budget for your site, thus it's good to redirect them all. Is this ever true? 2) How does Search Console prioritize crawl errors? I'm assuming it's by clicks from search?

    Reply
  15. SiteCozy website scanner Post author

    There are many different types of 404. Internal links that generate a 404, external links that generate a 404, Image URL that generate a 404. Are they all treated the same by Google?

    Reply
  16. HNC Vlogs Post author

    Sir please help me with "fn" errors in Google search console

    Reply
  17. Arcturus Post author

    I just clicked the thumbs up and now I'm the 404th person do I win a prize?

    Reply
  18. Сергей Щербаков Post author

    I have a lot of very old URLs in Google Index which are both 404 or redirected. As i understand they still appear, because someone still links to them on external websites, right? What is an approach for those? May be i should just delete from index through console?

    Reply

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