Could you shortly, briefly tell us how seriously we should take 404 notifications in search consoles?
JOHN MEULLER (Webmaster Analyst from Google):
Our customers keep coming back with this question, and it would be great to have your opinion. This is something that we hear regularly, in that people are sometimes confused when they see a rise of 404 errors in Search Console. Is that a problem that they need to take seriously? Will that affect their rankings or not? And from our point of view, 404s are a perfectly valid technical thing to do on a website for URLs that don’t exist. So if we’re crawling URLs that don’t exist on your website, then by all means give us a 404 so that we know that these your URLs don’t exist. And that’s perfectly valid. There’s absolutely no reason to kind of hide those 404s. They don’t affect the ranking of the rest of your content. We show that in Search Console primarily so that if you’re accidentally returning 404 for something that you thought should be showing content, then that’s something you might be able to notice, there, and to fix on your website. But otherwise, if it’s a URL that doesn’t exist anymore, or that never existed, or that’s kind of malformed– that has parameters in it– then it’s perfectly valid to return for a 404. And that’s not something that I would really worry about. A good way to kind recognize if there are any important 404 errors is to look at that list in a default order, which is by priority. The priority is kind of a mixed metric from our side that takes into account whether or not that URL was shown in search, if that URL was in a sitemap file, for example, if it has internal links. And usually the higher priority URLs that are shown there are the ones that we think are the most important, that might have content– or might have had content in the past– that we would have wanted to index.