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I've a problem with Search Console. For some months now the "Coverage" report has been detecting many "5xx" errors caused by URLs that don't exist and have never existed on my site.

What can it depend on?

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    Have you inspected the URLs to see where Google found them? Commented Jun 21, 2022 at 18:47
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    Have you looked at your server's error_log to determine why they have 500 errors rather than "404 Not Found"? Commented Jun 21, 2022 at 18:48
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    Have you checked if your site has been hacked? Hackers often create lots of bogus URLs on your site. Commented Jun 21, 2022 at 18:49
  • Hi,from a more detailed verification, it seems that the errors are generated by requests from Google bot that moreover "invents" these URLs. Is there any way to avoid this problem? What does the strange behavior of the bot depend on? Thanks Giusy P. Commented Jun 25, 2022 at 10:13
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    It is very unlikely that Googlebot is inventing URLs. Googlebot always picks up URLs from somewhere else. It's either going to be bad links on your own site, external links, JavaScript code that looks like links, or form values. Have you used the inspect URL tool in search console to see what Google says about where it found the URLs? Commented Jun 25, 2022 at 10:20

1 Answer 1

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It looks like you have two issues:

First, those inexistent URL's are being indexed in the first place, that probably menas that you have reference to them somewhere in your HTML. You can use an SEO tool like ScreamingFrog to spot these broken links.

The Index Coverage report shows the Google indexing status of all URLs that Google knows about in your property. source

Second, Your website is not handling correctly the 404 pages; Make sure that any inexistent URL is responding with a 404 status code so Google effectively know this pages no longer exist.

What you need to do?

  1. Make sure those pages are responding with a 404 status code.
  2. Run an SEO audit tool on your site to find and remove broken links.
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  • Hi Jeff, thanks. 1) is it possible that there is a "fake" sitemap that refers to the ownership of my site? I have submitted the sitemap and I believe that Google should only refer to the URLs communicated with the sitemap in its scans. From the coverage report it would seem that Google also refers to my site many URLs that I have never created, as if there were two sitemaps: mine and one that includes these URLs. So someone communicated these bogus URLs to Google by linking them to my property? 2) the management of non-existent URLs is very complicated. They are a huge number. Commented Jun 26, 2022 at 16:45
  • 1. I think that's very unlikely. 2. You don't need to handle every non-existent URL individually, if you are using Wordpress for example, by default you'll get a 404 page if the URL you are trying to visit doesn't exist. It looks like your template is throwing a 500 error before rendering the 404 page. See How to Fix the 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress
    – Jeff
    Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 7:11
  • 1) if it's very unlikely who generates these URLs then? I have checked with Screaming Frog and it doesn't detect any problems with the links, neither internal nor external. Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 10:08
  • Is there any way to know where Googlebot finds these links to my site? Not being in the sitemap and not building them the same Googlebot, I deduce that these URLs are external links in some site that I do not know. With Screaming Frog I did not get any suspicious external links. Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 10:46
  • @giuseppinapacifico "I believe that Google should only refer to the URLs communicated with the sitemap in its scans." - That's not the case. An XML sitemap is simply a "suggestion" and allows search engines to discover hard to reach URLs. For many sites, a sitemap is non-essential. Search engines will naturally crawl any URLs that they discover, from anywhere.
    – MrWhite
    Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 10:55

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