Good if 30-40% of the urls within the search console are 404s

Google’s John Mueller says it’s normal for 30-40% of the URLs in a website’s Search Console report to return 404 errors.

This is stated during Google Search Central’s February 25 SEO hangout, where we also learned that it is impossible to prevent Google from crawling URLs that no longer exist.

Google may still be trying to crawl URLs for years after it has deleted URLs, and there is nothing website owners can do to prevent it from doing so.

Hence, 404s are inevitable, even for the most diligent SEO.

An SEO named Robb Young asked the series of questions that pulled that information from Miller this week.

Young has a website that returns 404s in the search console for URLs that have been inactive for 8 years. The urls were previously 410 and have no links pointing to them.

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He wants to know if this is normal or not. Here is Mueller’s answer.

John Mueller on Googlebot crawling old URLs

Mueller says 8 years is a long time to crawl non-existent URLs. It’s not out of the realm of possibility.

If Google has determined that a URL was active in the past, it may try to crawl the URL again from time to time.

If you know the URL doesn’t exist, you can just ignore it in the Search Console report.

“Seven or eight years sounds like a really long time … if it was something we’ve seen in the past, we’ll try to redraw it every now and then.

We’re going to tell you, “Oh, that url didn’t work.” And when you say, “Well, it’s not supposed to work.” Then that’s perfectly fine. “

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In a follow-up question, Young asks if there is any way he could send a stronger signal to Google that these URLs no longer exist.

Will Google ever stop crawling the remote urls?

“I don’t think you can guarantee that we won’t at least try [to crawl] these urls. It’s one of those things that we have them in our system, and we know they’ve been useful at some point. So when we have time, we’ll just try again.

It doesn’t cause any problems. It’s just, we try again and we show you a report and tell you, “Oh, we tried again and it didn’t work.”

Young is concerned about the volume of 404 in his Search Console report and asks Mueller one more question.

He clarifies that it’s not just a handful of URLs that return 404 errors, but about 30-40% of the URLs in the report that have a 404 error.

Is The normal?

“That’s perfectly fine. That’s natural, especially for a location with a lot of churn. If it’s a classified ads website that you’ve classified entries that are valid for a month, expect those entries to drop out. And then we collect a bunch of those urls over the years and try again. And if they return 404s or 410s, whatever. Perfectly okay.

I don’t think that would look unusual to us. It’s not that we would see this as a quality signal or anything. The only time I think 404s would look problematic to us is when the homepage returns 404s. Then that could be a situation where we go, “Oh, I don’t know if this site is actually still active.”

But if parts of the website are 404, anyway. It’s like a technical thing, it doesn’t matter. “

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Google can remember URLs long after they are removed and try to crawl them again at any time. However, you don’t need to worry if the Search Console shows 404 errors for URLs that shouldn’t be there anyway.

Hear Mueller’s full answer in the video below:

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