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This is my first question on here so I hope I'm not breaking any rules, but I have a problem:

I have a site that uses an Adobe Site Catalyst for its online analytics. The suite supports tagging through JavaScript and when implemented, it looks something like this that is placed on http://www.mydomain.com:

<script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript">
s.channel="/my-tracking-tag/"
</script>`

The problem is that Google is reading this JavaScript and interpreting the s.channel string as a relative location on my website and is crawling it. I then get a 404 error in Google Webmaster Tools saying that the URL http://www.mydomain.com/my-tracking-tag/ does not exist, and that it was linked to by the URL that the JavaScript tag code was on.

Is there any to avoid this behavior? I thought about adding URL with a 404 error to my robots.txt file but tracking campaigns are constantly updating and it would be burdensome to update the text file with the constantly updating tags. I also though about structuring the string in s.channel as something like 's.channel= "/" + "my-tracking-tag" + "/" but I'm not sure if that would due the trick, and would also require implementation guidelines to be developed for the future.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jul 17 '13 at 16:56

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

1 Answer 1

I've encountered this as well. It's annoying that Google is reporting 404 errors on something you never actually link to, but only based on their heuristic that finds links in JavaScript code.

These reported errors don't seem to indicate actual problems than need to be addressed. Google's John Mueller posted this on Google+:

  1. 404 errors on invalid URLs do not harm your site’s indexing or ranking in any way. It doesn’t matter if there are 100 or 10 million, they won’t harm your site’s ranking. http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ch/2011/05/do-404s-hurt-my-site.html
  2. In some cases, crawl errors may come from a legitimate structural issue within your website or CMS. How you tell? Double-check the origin of the crawl error. If there's a broken link on your site, in your page's static HTML, then that's always worth fixing. (thanks Martino Mosna)
  3. What about the funky URLs that are “clearly broken?” When our algorithms like your site, they may try to find more great content on it, for example by trying to discover new URLs in JavaScript. If we try those “URLs” and find a 404, that’s great and expected. We just don’t want to miss anything important (insert overly-attached Googlebot meme here). http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=1154698
  4. You don’t need to fix crawl errors in Webmaster Tools. The “mark as fixed” feature is only to help you, if you want to keep track of your progress there; it does not change anything in our web-search pipeline, so feel free to ignore it if you don’t need it. http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=2467403
  5. We list crawl errors in Webmaster Tools by priority, which is based on several factors. If the first page of crawl errors is clearly irrelevant, you probably won’t find important crawl errors on further pages. http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ch/2012/03/crawl-errors-next-generation.html
  6. There’s no need to “fix” crawl errors on your website. Finding 404’s is normal and expected of a healthy, well-configured website. If you have an equivalent new URL, then redirecting to it is a good practice. Otherwise, you should not create fake content, you should not redirect to your homepage, you shouldn’t robots.txt disallow those URLs -- all of these things make it harder for us to recognize your site’s structure and process it properly. We call these “soft 404” errors. http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=181708
  7. Obviously - if these crawl errors are showing up for URLs that you care about, perhaps URLs in your Sitemap file, then that’s something you should take action on immediately. If Googlebot can’t crawl your important URLs, then they may get dropped from our search results, and users might not be able to access them either.
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