We've been scratching our head with 404s that continually pop-up on Google Search Console. These are very old links (4+ years), that no longer exist and we have ensured that nothing on the current live site links to them by mistake. But they continue to appear in Google Search console.

We tried letting Google know to not index these pages by using the Google URL Removal tools, but they still appear as 404s on GSC. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1663419?hl=en

For some of the links, there is a "Linked From" tab with links from our site that presumably link to the .php page reported as a 404 but we check those pages and no .php links there.

  • As long as the links exist and the pages do not, the 404s will remain. Why? While the URL does not exist in the Google index, the link does and Google will continue to retry the link. If you get a 404 regardless of the reason, valid or not, Google will let you know. There is nothing for you to do but see if you can get the links taken down. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER mark a 404 error as fixed for a page that should not exist. You are just making things worse. Cheers!!
    – closetnoc
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 16:53
  • But where do the links exist, that's what we can't figure out! Thanks for the tip on never marking a 404 as fixed for a page that does not exist, was not aware of this one. Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 18:09
  • @closetnoc: How will marking them as fixed make matters worse?
    – Oskar Skog
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 15:18
  • @OskarSkog If you get a 404 for a page that does not exist, then there is nothing to fix. If you get a 404 for a page that should exist, make sure there is not a problem or fix the problem. Marking a 404 where a page should not exist is telling Google that the page should exist and that Google should try again. There is a number of times Google will retry a page. Marking a 404 as fixed when the notice is correct, the page should not exist, restarts the retry period all over again. Not everything on search console is a problem.
    – closetnoc
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 16:15
  • 1
    @closetnoc: I'm gonna check this with John Mueller. He hasn't answered yet, but point 4 here plus.google.com/+JohnMueller/posts/RMjFPCSs5fm seems to say that it doesn't affect crawling.
    – Oskar Skog
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 20:02

2 Answers 2


A 404 status code means that the page isn't found. Google interprets this as a temporary status and will come back to it to see if the page is live (that's why you're seeing those pages in GSC).

A 410 status code, however, means that the page is gone and never coming back. When Google encounters a 410 status code, it assumes the webmaster purposefully took the page down and stops trying to crawl it.

If possible, change the status codes of those pages to 410.

More information on it here: https://searchenginewatch.com/sew/how-to/2340728/matt-cutts-on-how-google-handles-404-410-status-codes

  • Not sure if I need to say this, but if there is a page has simply moved or has a close enough equivalent, you should set up a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL. But don't abuse 301s, only redirect to "real" and useful destinations. Don't redirect to search pages, make the 404 page a (special) search result page instead.
    – Oskar Skog
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 15:18

That's just how Google Search Console works. If you get a link to a page that doesn't exist, Google will keep checking that page occasionally for ever more. And it will keep warning you that those pages do not exist, even if they never existed in the first place.

The pages in the Crawl Errors are ordered by priority, which appears to be based on (a) how many links point to that page and (b) whether those links are from the site itself (i.e. only one link from an external site will have lower priority).

So start at the top, click each URL then the "Linked from" tab to see where Google thinks the link is coming from. Fix the broken link if possible. Once you start getting to pages you cannot fix just give up and move on.

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