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I am checking my website out on Google Webmasters and I am seeing an astonishing 5000 links that could not be found by Google's Crawlers. That's normal, because my website is built in a manner that users can drop their own things, which also lead to 404 pages. Not a problem at all if I can find a workaround of course...

So my question is: what if I made a function or a mod rewrite that will check if the link exists (a post for example) and if not, it will redirect it to the home page. Is this good for SEO? Will Google see this as 'link found'? How do I have to look at this problem?

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    One might ask why you have a system that allows user to create links to non existing pages - that sounds like a poorly designed system to me.
    – Max
    Jul 2, 2013 at 10:07
  • No. That is not poorly designed, but a very essential asset of my website.
    – BlackEagle
    Jul 2, 2013 at 10:28

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Google will report via Webmaster Tools any URL you redirect to the homepage as a "soft 404". So, Google's algorithms treat redirect to home as equivalent to a 404. From an SEO standpoint, redirecting to home, or returning a 404 won't matter much.

From a user standpoint, it is often better experience to get an error message rather than be redirected to the home page. This is especially true if you can customize your 404 error page with links to relevant content.

From a site administrator standpoint, I like being seeing meaningful statuses in the log files. It helps me figure out what isn't working on the site more quickly. So I prefer that my sites 404 instead of redirect.

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  • Yes, I saw 5 soft 404's, which is a very small amount if you check the other 404 errors. I see, so it does not matter at all from a SEO standpoint. Too bad... Now I have to find something else. Thanks mate!
    – BlackEagle
    Jul 2, 2013 at 10:48
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If Google is requesting a URL that does not exist then it is perfectly normal for a site to return a 404, you should 'ONLY' redirect 404's when you have moved the page. Google does not like Webmasters trying to retain every bit of Juice and redirecting people to pages that are not intended.

Only redirect when pages are revalant, you should investigate how Google is believing you have 5,000 pages that do not exist. These could be caused by offsite links, a old site that was running on the domain before or something else - but you should not redirect as it would be bad SEO.

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