We have a modestly successful ecommerce site that employs GWT.
While making changes to URLs we always tried to replace the old link with a new one, using a 301 redirect to tell search crawlers where to look and preserve the ranking.
However, due to a technical problem, all the redirects had to be removed, leaving only the current links of all products and categories alive. Since that day, 404 errors are piling up.
Now, we had hoped that with a delay of 3 months, Google would have picked up on all redirects and removed the old URLs from the index, but it seems that is not so. After reading up on the meaning of 404s for search engines, we would be fine with the way it's working now.
However: For most, if not all of the 404 errors cropping up after every night (about 4000), we can click them and see where they were linked. We see 2 types of sources:
- Another web page from our site that does not exist anymore either
- Our sitemap
Now, opening up the sitemap GWT refers to and manually looking for the 404 always shows that the URL is not there. Almost every day we resubmit the sitemap in the hopes that this would fix things, but it seems that GWT is using an older, cached version of our sitemap that still contains the nonexistent URLs.
Is there any way out of this except waiting? It has been 3 months of redirect and 4 months since the URL changes, and we really expected that Google would have picked up on that.