GSC regularly reports 404s on my site for links that never existed. It seems Google has picked up external links that were made up by the remote site. When Google then scans our site, it finds it doesn't exist and records a 404 for us.

How big of a concern should this be for me as the webmaster? Should I continually just keep creating redirects to a valid, related page?

Is there any way to preempt these 404s to avoid having to continually chase them?

When Google encounters a 404 in Page Indexing, does it stop processing the remaining entries? In other words, when GSC encounters one of these fake (bot?) 404 pages, it immediately reports "Failed" validation. Does it stop processing the other 404s in the "soft 404" section or the "blocked due to other 4xx issue" section, or does it continue on through the other entries in that section?

1 Answer 1


Links to your site from elsewhere are the most valuable asset for search engine ranking on Google. Even before Google tells you about this you should be tracking 404s in your log files if you're concerned out your ranking.

Your log files should already have the status and the referer logged.

Should I continually just keep creating redirects to a valid, related page?

Redirects are bad. And lead to spaghetti config. Ideally you want to fix the link at the referring site, but that's not always practical. Maintaining a custom 404 handler is a better approach - keep a table of lookups for the 404 URLs, return the content in the original request with a canonical header pointing to the place where the content should be found. Make sure it returns a 200 status.

Where you don't have a mapping, and where the URL looks like it contains words in the path/query, you could try splitting and feeding it to a local search engine.

  • Ask Google - they're the ones who make their rules.
    – symcbean
    Commented Jun 28 at 20:49

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