I have moved my site from an old CMS to a framework and as a consequence my URL patterns have changed, so some of the URLs are now throwing 404.

I could setup redirects on some of the pages, but not for all. So category pages were just throwing errors, not leading to any actual pages. I have already found that google has removed them from search index (I have written down my page url in the search and looked for all links, but have not noticed these old pattern category URLs).

The search channel has obviously went down enter image description here

My question is - is that a temporary result and will more users come from search channel after the pages will be reindexed or have I been penalized. And what should I do?

  • You don't get penalized for 404's unless your pages are linking to invalid pages. Renaming URLS can result in lower rankings if you do not redirect as Google will treat the page as completely new and you lose any authority you had on it. Feb 29, 2016 at 18:17
  • Google knows when other sites link to your pages... when users click on your page in search results... users navigating there to the extent they are able to surveil that... Etc. When you 404 a page, you throw away all the Google Juice which makes that page important over-and-above your site as a whole. You also lose bookmarks, organic external links, etc. Some say "don't move URLs, ever." If you --must--, at least set up redirects on pages that matter. You can identify them from access logs, look for Referers outside your own site. Mar 1, 2016 at 3:16

1 Answer 1


For any page that issues a 404, the search engine will look for that page a number of times before stopping. If there are links to that page, the search engine will check the existence of the page again from time to time. This is perfectly normal. For all other pages, redirected or otherwise, it will take a while for any search engine to figure out what is going on.

When there are a lot of 404 or other errors, search engines will stop normal indexing, spot check the site, and if enough errors found, re-validate the sites existing URLs within the index before indexing any new pages. This is the general behavior and any existing queued fetches will continue.

The reason for this is simple. The search engine needs to ensure that the links they are making in the SERPs are valid. So, for a period, any URL that has not been validated will be pushed down in the SERPs until it is ensured to exist. All of this takes a while. Search disruptions of this type are perfectly normal. It is not a penalty. Search traffic will resume once the search engines have validated your URLs.

Your job at this point is exactly what you seem to be doing now. Ensure that proper 301 redirects exist and that the target page is appropriate based upon the topic. For any page that does not exist or where a 301 redirect is not appropriate, a 404 is the easiest route. While a 410 Gone error is faster and will reduce the 404 errors, it is not as easy to implement. What is important to know is this. Do not mark any 404 error for a non-existing page as being fixed. This tells Google that the page should exist and the process starts over again. 404 errors, if correctly issued, should be left alone and allowed to process naturally.

  • thanks a lot. Now I don't feel frustrated. How long will it take approximately to reindex? Or is there no way to make approximations? I have 90k item pages which I was redirecting and approximately 500 category pages that I could not redirect and was just throwing 404.
    – naneri
    Feb 29, 2016 at 20:10
  • 1
    It depends upon the site size as you already guessed. Google does actually begin to slow down checking the site when it feels like it has a good handle on things. Still, it can take months to validate all of the pages, however, SERP recovery begins within days and weeks. I went through a huge reorganization of a large site a couple of years ago. It took a couple of months to regain the traffic I had before, however, it was only a short time before traffic began to rise. I had about 287,000 404 errors after removing pages, 400,000+ new pages, and very few 301 redirects. It was not too bad.
    – closetnoc
    Feb 29, 2016 at 20:17

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