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Webmaster Tools Phantom 404's - where do they come from?

3:09 pm on Feb 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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joined:Oct 16, 2006
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Okay, so here's something that's been bugging me for a while.

In Webmaster tools -> Diagnostics -> Web Crawl, I am getting a dozen or so 404 errors reported. The thing is, I can't find anything linking to these urls. This isn't just a fluke - it's been like this for a good 6 months or longer.

I have searched:
Webmaster tools -> Pages with Internal Links
Webmaster tools -> Pages with External Links
Y! linkdomain:
Xenu's sitespider

All report 0 links to all of these pages that webmaster tools is reporting 404's on.

Is google just on a healthy dose of crack? Ideas?

6:23 pm on Feb 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

joined:May 26, 2000
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Lots of people notice something like this. If you expand the "How do I use this data?" link inside a Webmaster Tools account says the following: "...if unrecognizable URLs appear in the 404 report, it's fine to ignore them."

Also note the following - which tells you Google may be asking for a url on your domain that they found elsewhere on the web:

If another site lists a broken link to your site, we may list that URL but you may not be able to fix the error.


8:27 pm on Feb 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the response Ted,

I figured wasn't anything to worry about... just one of those little quirks that bugs ya a little. My best guess was that it was something that used to have a link in a dated datacenter.. and the spider was still trying to pull it.

9:02 pm on Feb 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I get that sometimes for some PDF's that I have on the site. All I do is check to make sure it's there, and functional. If so, then I ignore it.... unless I see it there for longer than a month.

At that point I might take a much deeper look. Found one the other day that turned out to be a case sensitive issue, from a link someone else made. I just plopped in a 301 and called it good.

4:04 pm on Feb 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Whenever I've seen those, it has turned out to be another site (often a messageboard) that linked to the wrong url on my site. Usually they're off by one letter. I add them to my 301 redirect. That way, if someone is on that other site and clicks on the link, they'll wind up on the intended page.

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