Are 404 Errors Bad for SEO?

Oct 29, 2007 • 9:32 am | comments (2) by twitter | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization

A Cre8asite Forums member noticed that his site is reporting 404 errors when in Google Webmaster Tools. What can he do about it? Is it bad from an SEO standpoint?

First of all, a bit of troubleshooting is recommended. You may want to try Xenu link sleuth to see if it finds any broken links. You may want to see if those pages are on your server and if the links to the pages are correct. It may also be possible that they just weren't accessible when the Googlebot last crawled your site.

However, the member realized that the pages were from an old directory and ended up setting up 301 redirects to the new pages. That works too. In fact, there are two ways to do that as discussed in the thread:

redirect 301 /directory/


RewriteEngine on RewriteRule ^*)$$1 [r=301,nc]

Forum discussion continues at Cre8asite Forums.

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Michael Martinez

10/29/2007 07:32 pm

Xenu hammers servers and people with large contenht sites should be VERY reluctant to turn it loose on their pages. Google Webmaster Central has been reporting a lot of bogus 404 issues lately. I suspect server timeouts may be one possible cause as a server I have been monitoring is getting more of these bogus 404 errors when its traffic increases. I'm not too happy with the quality of service coming from Google Webmaster Tools right now. It looks to me like they need to put more resources into the mix.


10/29/2007 11:32 pm

Many of the 404 can be out of our control -- such as when other sites link to you and misprint your URL. Google WMC only reports the page that cannot be found, but not where they were being linked from -- a feature that I hope they will implement in the future. There will always be 404, whether your pages no longer exist, users type it in wrong, bad links from internal and external sites, etc. I don't necessarily think 404 it's a bad thing -- unless, of course, the bad links are internal. In fact, I think 404 page is a great opportunity to create links to other content of your site -- almost like another sitemap -- driving more spider traffic and help frustrated users get to where they want to go. I've implemented something at Kelley Blue Book recently. Just type in to see.

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