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4XX Errors

4xx errors (also referred to as 400 errors) occur when a page that once existed on a website is no longer live and has not been redirected elsewhere. These HTTP 4xx status codes (such as a 404 error) can also impact SEO. There are a number of ways search engines view and deal with pages displaying 4xx error codes.

Learn how Google Search views 400 errors on your website (and how to solve 4xx issues for better organic search results) in this collection of ‘SEO Office Hours’ notes.

For more on 4xx errors, see our article on how to find 404 errors on your site.

Further reading: The ABCs of HTTP Status Codes

Many-to-one Redirects & Noindexed Pages Are Sometimes Treated as Soft 404s

Noindexed pages and too many pages that redirect to one URL can both be treated as soft 404 errors by Google. Having soft 404s doesn’t impact the perceived quality of your website, but these pages won’t be crawled as frequently or indexed at all.

2 Oct 2018

Image URLs Can be Flagged as Soft 404s in GSC

The GSC Index Coverage report may flag image URLs as soft 404s if they have a non-standard image URL. This is because they are seen as a 200 page without any HTML.

18 Sep 2018

Redirected URLs Can Appear as Soft 404s if Many Pages Are Redirecting to One

Redirecting URLs shouldn’t be showing up as soft 404 errors unless you’ve removed a lot of pages and are redirecting them all to one page.

4 Sep 2018

Use the URL Removal Tool & Sitemaps to Inform Google About Removed Pages

The URL Removal tool can be used to remove entire subdirectories from Google’s index usually within a day. When removing groups of URLs that don’t fall under one subdirectory you can make them 404s and tell Google they’ve changed recently via a sitemap file.

13 Jul 2018

Noindex & 410 Pages Are Removed Faster Than 404

Noindex and 410 remove pages from Google’s index at about the same speed, and both are slightly quicker than using a 404.

1 Jun 2018

410 May Remove Page From Index Faster Than 404

In the mid and long term, a 404 error is the same as a 410 because they will both be dropped from the index and crawling is less frequent. However, a 410 may cause a page to fall out of the index a little bit faster than a 404 by a couple of days or so.

18 May 2018

Sitemap Files Returning 404s Don’t Cause Issues for Google

Sitemap files that return 404s don’t cause any issues for Google from an SEO perspective, they will just be left as 404s.

6 Mar 2018

Google Sometimes Wrongly Identify Soft 404s

Examples of a soft 404 can include redirects to a shared page, or a page with a 200 response code that has no indexable content. However, Google sometimes wrongly identifies soft 404s, like on development sites talking about 404 pages, which can be mistaken for the page not being found.

23 Feb 2018

4xx Errors Don’t Mean Your Crawl Budget is Being Wasted

Seeing Googlebot crawling old 404/410 pages doesn’t mean your crawl budget is being wasted. Google will revisit these when there is nothing else on the site to be crawled, which is a sign of capacity to crawl more.

20 Feb 2018

404 Errors Don’t Impact Ranking of Other Pages

404 errors don’t affect the ranking of other pages on your site, this is the normal response to return for pages that don’t exist.

12 Jan 2018

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