Google search console 404 errors

In my recent exploration of the Search Console’s page indexing section, I stumbled upon an abundance of 404 pages, constituting approximately 99% of the findings. Interestingly, most of these pages have never existed on the site. This isn’t merely a handful of sporadic errors; we’re talking about 500 instances.

What’s funny is that the reported URLs lack any discernible pattern. Some vaguely resemble certain articles or pages on the site, while others appear to be slightly altered versions of existing URLs. Furthermore, many incorporate category structures that deviate from my site’s established hierarchy.

I then did thorough examination of my sitemap and internal links, everything appears to be in proper order. I haven’t implemented any significant alterations to my site recently that could account for this anomaly.

I’m reaching out to the community to inquire if anyone has encountered a similar situation. What could be causing this phenomenon, and what course of action should I pursue?

1 Like

Sounds like you’ve got a mystery on your hands with those 404s! Here are some possibilities:

  1. Old Site Migration: Did your site migrate from a different domain or platform in the past? These could be lingering URLs from the old site.
  2. Spammy Backlinks: External sources might be linking to non-existent pages on your site. Check your backlinks for suspicious activity.
  3. Crawling Issues: Maybe Google is having trouble crawling your site. Ensure your robots.txt isn’t blocking important areas.

Let’s see if others have faced this! #404Mystery

One possibility is that these are attempts by bots or automated scripts scanning your site for vulnerabilities.

Possible Causes:

  1. External Links: Sometimes, other websites link to your site with incorrect URLs, leading to 404 errors. These could be typos or old links from content that no longer exists.
  2. Bots and Crawlers: Web crawlers can sometimes generate erroneous URLs while indexing your site, especially if they’re trying to guess URLs based on your existing structure.
  3. Historical URLs: If your site underwent a major overhaul in the past, old URLs might still be lingering around the web, causing 404 errors.
  4. CMS or Plugin Issues: Occasionally, certain CMS plugins or themes can generate strange URLs that don’t actually exist.

Steps to Address the Issue:

  1. Google Search Console: First, use the URL Inspection tool in Google Search Console to get more details about these 404 errors. It can provide insights on when Google first detected these URLs and if they’re still being crawled.
  2. Log Analysis: Check your server logs to see if there are any patterns in these 404 requests. Sometimes, this can help pinpoint the source of the problem.
  3. Redirects: Implement 301 redirects for any identifiable incorrect URLs to guide both users and search engines to the correct pages. This can help mitigate the negative impact of these 404s.
  4. Robots.txt: Update your robots.txt file to block crawlers from accessing certain parts of your site if they’re generating too many errors.
  5. Link Cleanup: Use tools like Ahrefs or Screaming Frog to identify and fix broken internal and external links.