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I had a problem with a Japanese keyword hack a while ago and am still having 404 issues in GSC. I 410'd all pages that don't exist but am still having problems. Whenever I inspect a page that Googlebot found as a "Not Found (404)" I notice that is also shows a Referring page. However, that page doesn't exist either.

How is Googlebot finding these Referring pages that don't even exist?

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Did the pages ever exist? and, consider (even if these pages were never valid), were they delivering content because of how the server was configured?

# this .htaccess delivers content for non-exitant pages
# if the index.php does not notify with a 404 for non-exitant pages
# then these pages exist.

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]

# Note: Wordpress does provide a 404 when it can not deliver the page.

If they did then google is using its cached copy from when it did exist. If it actually never existed then google has made an error. Perhaps there was a broken DNS entry at some point in the past?

There should be a button that says something like, "fixed," which would remove the message from the search console. But, it is harmless; The 404 notices are just to be helpful so webmasters can fix them for their visitors.


Note Google is doing a lot of updating which may relate to why these surfaced now.

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