Google on 404 Errors and Ranking Drops

Gary Illyes from Google recently shared insights on the connection between 404 Page Not Found errors and drops in search rankings. This article summarizes Illyes’ key points and provides guidance on addressing 404 errors.


Understanding the Source of 404 Errors


Illyes mentioned that 404 errors can stem from automated scanners searching for vulnerable plugins or themes. By analyzing the IP address and user agent of the bot, it is possible to identify potential malicious activity.


Google’s Stance on Ranking Drops and 404 Errors


Illyes clarified that 404 errors are common and typically don’t cause ranking drops directly. Most of the time, no immediate action is required.


Handling 404s from Real Users


If users encounter 404 errors due to misspelled URLs, creating redirects can rectify the issue and improve user experience.


Exploring Vulnerabilities


It’s worth considering the possibility of bot-driven 404 errors resulting from vulnerability scans. Tools like phpMyAdmin or security plugins can help identify potential vulnerabilities.


Determining the Cause of Ranking Drops


If no vulnerabilities are found, ranking drops and 404 errors may be coincidental. It’s important to investigate other factors contributing to the decline in rankings.


Illyes’ insights emphasize that 404 errors are generally harmless and unlikely to directly impact rankings. Addressing misspelled URLs and investigating vulnerabilities when necessary can help improve website performance.