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SEO (or other) problems with a 404?

I have a dynamic website that allows registered users to upload and display images on the their profile page. As each user may upload less than the maximum limit of 20 images, there would be some "empty" images on the page. I am using javascript to hide these empty images. The loading of the profile page would generate a series of 404 errors depending on the number of empty images. Would these 404 errors affect the SEO of the page and the website?

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marked as duplicate by John Conde Sep 22 '12 at 20:29

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2 Answers 2

If your site is truly dynamic then you should not be generating img elements for non-existent images in the first place, thus avoiding 404's from the beginning.

Broken img elements are potentially a bad experience for users and for this reason you could be penalised by the search engines.

Will search engines see your JavaScript hidden images as "not for public consumption"? Most SEs don't interpret JS. Google is getting much better at indexing JS content. This might depend on how this is implemented, but I would assume that the search engines are unable to determine that these images are "not for public consumption" and will simply see the 404s.

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Try to remove the empty pictures, Google will try to crawl all of them, that makes additional work for the robots. Google does not like to work for nothing, so you will get a small disadvantage. Maybe your site won't rank as high as it would be, images may not get indexed in Google Images, who knows?!

But Google will probably reduce the crawl rate of your site, which is never a good thing. Work on your code to remove these 404 images from the source code.

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