404 Errors By Third-Parties Shown In Google Webmaster Tools

Nov 22, 2011 • 8:40 am | comments (8) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

404 errorI am glad I do not have 404 OCD, because if I did, I'd be spending all my waking hours fixing 404, page not found, errors on my web sites.

A WebmasterWorld thread has some webmasters complaining that they have 404 errors being reported in Google Webmaster Tools that are not real pages, nor are they being linked to at all.

One said:

I came across some 404 pages on my site in Google WMT. These were pages that i know i definitely do not have on my site. Anyway i investigated and looked at the linking pages and they were external websites that are referencing my URLs and not actually linking using <a href> tag.

It seems Google Bot has tried to follow these URLs and reporting them as broken links.

This is supposedly a common issue.

But which would you prefer? To not know about potential 404 errors or for Google to hide 404 errors that you cannot do much about.

Most 404 issues can be handled either by keeping them a 404, because the 404 makes sense or by setting up clever redirects. Or even by placing content on web page.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Image credit: Tomasz Bidermann / ShutterStock.

Previous story: "No Manual Action" Response After Google Reconsideration Request


Michael Cropper

11/22/2011 01:54 pm

I would prefer Google to put them into a different section so it is easy to see which are pages being linked to from your own site (ie ones that can be fixed) VS ones that are linked to from external sources (ie the never ending task of handling these).  On large scale sites this is a nightmare to investigate and fix tens of thousands of issues created by spammy external sites linking to invalid pages (which may either 404 or create half pages due to the scripts behind the scenes being flexible)

Ellie K

11/22/2011 02:00 pm

I am cultivating a screen shot collection of 404 error pages, sighted in the wild (not erroneously linked to my own website though, which I realize was the topic of this interesting post by RustyBrick). I'm storing the images using Google Picasa, linked to my Google+ profile. For entertainment purposes only, of course. I think that would be considered a different variety of 404 OCD than the post referred to...


11/22/2011 02:15 pm

Time to write a tool to parse Google WMT  errors and put it into an actionable report. I think I'll also validate the error are still present as the data is often quite stale. 

Mobile Home Electrical Repair

11/22/2011 03:34 pm

I'm glad I'm not the only one who has this problem.

Darren Moloney

11/22/2011 05:34 pm

We've had the same where third parties have linked in to pages that have never existed, we've dealt with them by simply putting in 301 redirects... good idea though on placing content on the page - may as well use it for marketing! :)


12/12/2011 04:39 pm

I've seen a lot of weird results in GWT including really old links that haven't been linked to in like 2 years.

Daniel Wood

12/26/2011 06:15 am

I got this article when looking for my 404 problem solution in GWT What i am experiencing is Google is producing a 404 error for URLs that all are good in health. But the URLs are not with the tag but simple in the Text format and Google has taken only half part of it and consider it to be an incomplete URL and thus giving a 404 error. I am not sure what should be done.


07/05/2012 05:54 am

I get these errors also even though the page exists http://c456rider.co.uk/

blog comments powered by Disqus