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We have redirected all non-existing pages to home page. It was fine for some days.

Few days back i saw increase in the number of soft 404 errors for desktop. And the errors were the page urls that have been redirected to the home page.

After fixing all the soft404 for desktop, i found increase in soft 404 errors for smartphones. what it would mean ?

Is there any option to remove the non-existing urls in GWT.

thanks

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Redirecting urls which should respond as 404 to the home page are considered to be soft 404s. Return a true 404 response. They will be noted in Google's Search Console, though you can marked them as fixed and generally they wont bother you again unless recrawled.

Soft 404s

  • Is it possible to remove these unwanted urls instead of returning a 404 response ? – satish k Jun 8 '15 at 6:16
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    You need to return a 404 response, that is the correct way to tell search engines that a page is no longer. It will show up in search console/webmaster tools - but you just mark that as fixed. 404's do not hurt your site : googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/… – user29671 Jun 8 '15 at 6:19
  • For how many days will the 404 page exists in Google index ? – satish k Jun 8 '15 at 6:49
  • Once they are 404'ed you can use the URL removal in Search Console/Webmaster Tools to speed up removal. – Max Jun 8 '15 at 11:24
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We have redirected all non-existing pages to home page. It was fine for some days.

That's a bad idea because if search engines indexed all those now non-existing URLs that were working several days ago (or whenever the links did work), then people who use the search engines will be misled because they will show what is in their cache to describe the page, and theres likely a huge difference between a home page and the now non-existing pages.

Few days back i saw increase in the number of soft 404 errors for desktop. And the errors were the page urls that have been redirected to the home page. After fixing all the soft404 for desktop, i found increase in soft 404 errors for smartphones. what it would mean ?

Soft-404's is something to describe a page containing a message similar to what a real 404 page returns except that the status code returned is 200 when it should be 404. Try to revise your pages that google sees as soft-404's so that you don't have words like "not found" or "not available" near the beginning of your page and try to add a good amount of content to the page.

Is there any option to remove the non-existing urls in GWT.

Figure out what links you really don't want to have reported, and if you're happy with google no longer indexing those links as well, then apply an HTTP status "410 Gone" to those links. Here's PHP code that will help you.

<?php
header("HTTP/1.1 410 Gone",true);
?><!-- insert any HTML code here --><p>This page doesn't exist</p>

However if those links can be reused, you definitely should give them an HTTP status "301 Moved Permanently" with the location pointing to the new URL.

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