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There is a few years old small website with very few pages (~5), which were indexed and ranked by Google. A few days ago 4 of those pages disappeared from SERPs and Search Console gives me 404 Not Found errors despite the fact that the pages are up and running. I didn't do any changes in header's crawler related meta tags and robot.txt neither.

Tried to submit a sitemap.xml but it gives me 404 error for that too.

What causes this problem?

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    "Search Console gives me 404 Not Found errors" - is that using the Fetch as Google tool? If that still reports a 404 then check your .htaccess file (eg. in case of hack that diverts Googlebot). – DocRoot Feb 25 '17 at 12:50
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    @DocRoot You were right. This was the problem. You should give this comment as answer. – neptune Feb 26 '17 at 14:44
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If Google is reporting these pages as a 404 (and this has been confirmed with the "Fetch as Google" tool in Google Search Console), yet they appear to be perfectly accessible and return a 200 OK when visiting the site then check your .htaccess file for any suspicious code that might be redirecting the Googlebot.

If a hacker is able to inject code into .htaccess then they can very quickly destroy a sites ranking. Unfortunately, if they've been able to edit .htaccess then this might not be the only thing they have done.

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Sometimes ssl certificate can cause the problem too. If your page is on https and you hadn't redirected it with .htaccess, it gives you 404 error.

  • Have you seen Google Search Console report of 404 error for an SSL error? Google is usually good at reporting the specific error. I would expect that to result in a crawl error of some kind, but I wouldn't expect a 404. – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 8 at 17:57

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