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Large Number of File Not Found Affecting Ranking / Traffic?
irock




msg:4553123
 4:50 pm on Mar 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have about 76,000 file not found errors reported by webmaster tools. The number skyrocketed from 7500 since my page rank increased from 5 to 6 in the beginning of February.

However, I notice as the number of the file not found errors increase, my traffic began to drop gradually (lost about 15% visitors from Google). The drop isn't alarming but is definitely a cause for concern.

In your opinion, do you think there's a correlation between my ranking and the increasingly more file not found errors?

 

phranque




msg:4553221
 12:00 am on Mar 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

are you linking internally to urls that are 404?

if your PR increased, googlebot may be crawling more pages and discovering these.

TheOptimizationIdiot




msg:4553239
 1:00 am on Mar 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

What phranque said, especially the first line.

And to say the same things in other words: If you're not linking to them, then give them the "ignore" cause in my experience they're not the issue, but if you do link to them, then fix the links you have pointing to those locations yesterday!

Me linking to 404 pages on your site should not cause an issue for you, but could very well cause one for me. You linking to 404 pages on your own site could cause an issue, but if you're not linking to the new 404s, then the problem with traffic is likely somewhere else and not the 404s you're seeing reported.

irock




msg:4553277
 4:38 am on Mar 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

phranque,

No, I'm pretty sure these links aren't from my sites but a wide range of large websites (PR 7/8).

TheOptimizationIdiot,

Do you think it's worth the effort to redirect (301) these URLs to a newer article? I am asking this because as I said earlier, these 404 URLs have links from large sites.

phranque




msg:4553304
 7:48 am on Mar 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm pretty sure these links aren't from my sites


you should crawl your site with a link checker rather than guessing or assuming.


Do you think it's worth the effort to redirect (301) these URLs to a newer article?


only if the "newer article" is a replacement for the content at the previous url or is at least highly relevant.
otherwise, you should provide a 410 (Gone) status code for the response, assuming that the url actually existed previously.

lucy24




msg:4553332
 8:39 am on Mar 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

Do you think it's worth the effort to redirect (301) these URLs to a newer article?

Newer than what? Are we talking about articles that used to exist and no longer do, or about articles that never existed outside of the search engine's fevered imagination?

Former file, now gone: 410
File that never existed: 404
Misspelled link that's out of your power to change: 301 or 404 at your discretion. But 301 only if it is absolutely clear which page they meant to link to; bait-and-switch tends not to work. That's what well-designed 404 and 410 pages are for.

Don't know about the rest of youse, but I get anxious when the Googlebot asks for an obviously bogus pagename. Makes me worry that they've been meeting too many redirects and are getting suspicious.

rowtc2




msg:4553378
 11:07 am on Mar 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have put some pages with 410 status code and some pages with 404 status code.

Pages were removed from SERPS in ~3 months, i do not think Google makes a difference about how treat them.

Also, i think is important to not have internal links pointing to 404 pages. Even you do not have internal links pointing to 404 pages, Google still see 404 pages from indexed/cached URLs from a date when that page(s) have a link to actual 404 page.

These days, because they make often algo updates, is hard to say if 404 casue a drop in ranking, but my feeling is if you do not link internally those 404 pages, should not hurt (otherwise a competitor could put thousands of links to your site, to different 404 pages, and hurt your rankings).

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