How to Remove 404 Error Pages from Google: Step-by-Step Guide

Dibbyyan Nath
17 Min Read

Have you ever encountered a “404 Error – Page Not Found” message after clicking on a link to a webpage? Although these messages can be frustrating for you, they can also harm a website’s search engine rankings. When Google crawls a website and encounters a 404 error page, it can lead to a decrease in the website’s overall ranking and pose challenges for the site’s SEO. In this article, I will outline the actions you can take to Remove 404 Error Pages from Google’s index. This process can enhance your website’s search engine ranking and provide your visitors with an improved user experience.

Negative impact on sites if there are multiple 404 errors

Google crawl rate disturb: One of the main issues with 404 errors is that they can impact a website’s Google crawl rate. Google uses bots to crawl websites and index their pages in order to rank them in search results. When a bot encounters a 404 error, it interprets it as a dead end and stops crawling the website from that point forward. This means that any pages or content that come after the 404 error won’t be indexed by Google, potentially harming Your website’s overall search engine ranking.

User experience disturbs: 404 errors can disrupt your user’s experiences on a website. If a user clicks on a link that directs them to a 404-error page, it can cause frustration and potentially lead them to leave your website entirely. This can result in an increase in the website’s bounce rate, which is a metric used to measure the percentage of users who leave your website after viewing only one page. High bounce rates can negatively impact a website’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).

De-rank keywords from Google and lose traffic: Let me tell you, 404 errors can also have an impact on your website’s keyword rankings. When a webpage is removed or no longer exists, any keywords or internal link associated with that page may lose their ranking in search results due to the loss of page rank. This can harm a website’s overall SEO strategy and make it more difficult for the website to rank for relevant keywords.

Why Fixing 404 errors is important?

It proves Google’s crawl budget: Fixing 404 errors can prove to Google that your website is being maintained and updated regularly. Google crawls your website on a regular basis to index your pages and content. If Google detects a large number of 404 errors on your website, it may reduce the frequency of its crawling. This can negatively impact your website’s search engine rankings and visibility.

Improves user experience: If your users click on a link that directs them to a 404-error page, they are likely to experience frustration and may even choose to leave your website entirely. This can increase your website’s bounce rate overall 95%, which is not favourable for search engine optimization. By fixing 404 errors, you can ensure that users are directed to the correct page or a relevant alternative, improving their experience on your website.

Refresh Content on Google Eye:

Another reason to fix 404 errors is to prevent broken links from impacting your website’s reputation. Broken links can make your website appear outdated and neglected, which can harm your brand’s reputation. By fixing 404 errors promptly, you can show your website visitors as well as Google Crawler that you are dedicated to maintaining a functional and reliable website. Also, you must audit your website for other hidden broken links using tools like Semrush which also offers free trial

Things to do to find 404 error pages of a website

1. Google Crawl Report:

  1. Log in to your Google Search Console account and select the desired website property.
  2. Navigate to the “Setting” section, hover on “Crawl Stats” and click on “Open Report”.
  3. Look for the “Error” tab to identify URLs that have returned a 404 error.
  4. Click on each error to view the affected URL and the date it was last crawled.
Google crawl report

2. Google Webmaster:

  1. Navigate to the “Pages” section under the “Indexing” menu.
  2. Look for the “Error” tab to identify URLs that have returned a 404 error.
  3. Click on each error to view the affected URL and the date it was last crawled.
404 urls in the webmaster report

3. Google Analytics:

  1. Navigate to the “Behavior” section and select “Site Content” > “All Pages.”
  2. Look for the “Page Title” column and sort it alphabetically.
  3. Scroll down to find any pages with “404” in the title.

4. Server log files:

  1. Log in to your server via SSH or FTP.
  2. Locate the log files for your web server, such as Apache or NGINX.
  3. Search for the HTTP status code “404” in the log files.
  4. Note the time, date, and URL of each 404 error.

5. 404 error status checker plugin:

  1. Install and activate the AIOSEO plugin on your WordPress site.
  2. Go to the AIOSEO settings page and click on the “404 Monitor” tab.
  3. Enable the 404 error monitoring feature.
  4. Choose the email address where you want to receive notifications for any 404 errors.
  5. Select the frequency at which you want to receive email notifications.
  6. Save the settings.
  7. AIOSEO will now start monitoring your website for any 404 errors.
  8. If a 404 error is detected, AIOSEO will log it into a dashboard.
  9. You can view the 404 errors on the 404 Monitor dashboard and take action on them.
  10. AIOSEO will also send you email notifications based on the settings you selected.

Understand the Page Rank concept; how it affected by the 404 error

The significance of Page Rank lies in its ability to improve the relevance and usefulness of Google’s search results. By scrutinizing the links between web pages, PageRank enables Google to recognize top-notch, authoritative websites and assign them appropriate rankings. This ensures that when your users search for information, they are more likely to discover reliable, trustworthy content.

Page rank concept

In the event of a Google crawler encountering a 404 error on an internal link, it indicates that the linked page no longer exists. This can have a negative impact on the site’s PageRank, as the link juice that would have been passed through that link is lost. To avoid this, it’s important to regularly check your site for broken links and fix them as soon as possible. As I mentioned above take help of reliable tool; like Semrush that helps you to understand your page health and conduct SEO Audit

Despite being developed over 20 years ago, PageRank remains an important factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. In a tweet from 2017, Google’s Gary Illyes stated that “18 years we’re still using PageRank (and 100s of other signals) in ranking?”. The importance of PageRank to Google’s search algorithm cannot be overstated, which underscores the need for website owners to keep a close eye on their PageRank scores.

Some Common 404 error solutions

Fix 404 error using 301 redirect

A 301 redirect is a way to redirect users and search engines to a different URL when a page or resource has been moved or removed. This can help you to fix 404 errors and maintain the SEO value of the old page.

To fix a 404-error using a 301 redirect, follow these steps:

Identify the old URL that is returning a 404 error. You can do this by checking your website’s error logs or by using a tool like Google Search Console.

Create a new page or find an existing page on your website that you want to redirect users and search engines too. Make sure the new page is relevant to the old page in terms of content and topic.

Set up a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL. This can be done using a web server configuration file, a plugin if using a CMS like WordPress, or by using a third-party redirect tool.

Test the redirect to make sure it is working correctly. You can use a tool like Redirect Checker to test the redirect and make sure it is sending users and search engines to the correct new URL.

It’s worth noting that while 301 redirects used to result in a small loss of PageRank, as Gary Illyes stated in his tweet, they don’t anymore. This means that using a 301 redirect to fix a 404 error won’t negatively impact your website’s SEO.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to fix 404 errors using the “Redirection” plugin and the “htaccess” file:

  1. Install and activate the “Redirection” plugin on your WordPress website.
  2. Go to the “Tools” menu in the WordPress dashboard and click on “Redirection”.
  3. Click on the “404 errors” tab to see a list of URLs that are generating 404 errors.
  4. Click on the “Add new redirection” button.
  5. In the “Source URL” field, enter the URL that is generating the 404 error.
  6. In the “Target URL” field, enter the correct URL where you want the user to be redirected.
  7. Click on the “Add redirect” button to save the redirection rule.
  8. Repeat steps 4 to 7 for all the URLs that are generating 404 errors.
  9. Once you have added all the necessary redirection rules, go to the “Settings” menu in the WordPress dashboard and click on “Permalinks”.
  10. Click on the “Save changes” button to regenerate your website’s permalinks.

Now, let’s move on to using the htaccess file:

  1. Access your website’s server using FTP or cPanel.
  2. Locate the .htaccess file in your website’s root directory.
  3. Download a backup copy of the .htaccess file to your computer, just in case you need to restore it later.
  4. Open the .htaccess file in a text editor.
  5. At the beginning of the file, add the following code:
# BEGIN WordPress

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>

RewriteEngine On

RewriteBase /

RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d

RewriteRule . /index.php [L]


# END WordPress

6. Save the changes to the .htaccess file and upload it back to your website’s server.

7. Test your website to see if the 404 errors have been fixed.

Speed process up by redirecting into 410 status Code

In a recent Webmaster Hangout, Google’s John Mueller received the following question:

“If a 404 error goes to a page that doesn’t exist, should I make them a 410?”

John Mueller answered:

From our point of view, in the midterm/long term, a 404 is the same as a 410 for us. So in both of these cases, we drop those URLs from our index.

We generally reduce crawling a little bit of those URLs so that we don’t spend too much time crawling things that we know don’t exist.

The subtle difference here is that a 410 will sometimes fall out a little bit faster than a 404. But usually, we’re talking on the order of a couple days or so.

So if you’re just removing content naturally, then that’s perfectly fine to use either one. If you’ve already removed this content long ago, then it’s already not indexed so it doesn’t matter for us if you use a 404 or 410.

So, both a 404 error and a 410 error will result in Google dropping the URLs from its index in the mid-term to long-term. However, there is a subtle difference between the two: a 410 error may fall out a little bit faster than a 404 error, usually within a couple of days. Therefore, if you want to remove content naturally, it’s perfectly fine to use either a 404 or 410 error. However, if you have already removed the content long ago, it doesn’t matter to Google if you use a 404 or 410 error, as the content is already not indexed.

To fix a 404 error and redirect it to a 410 status code using Yoast SEO Premium, you can follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the Yoast SEO Premium plugin in the WordPress dashboard.
  2. Click on the Redirects tab in the Yoast SEO Premium plugin.
  3. Click on the Add Redirect button.
  4. the Source URL field, enter the URL of the page that is returning a 404 error.
  5. Select the 410 Gone option in the Type dropdown menu.
  6. Click on the Add Redirect button to save the redirect.
404 urls converted to 410 using Yoast SEO

404 error removal using Google webmaster temporary URL removal request

To eliminate 404 error links from Google Webmaster, you can follow this step-by-step guide:

  • Visit the “Coverage” section of your website.
  • Step 3: Choose the “Excluded” tab.
  • Locate the “HTTP errors” category and click on it.
  • Check the URLs that you wish to remove from Google’s search results from the list of all the URLs that return a 404 error on your website.
  • Click the “Request Removal” button on top of the page.
  • A prompt will appear asking for a reason for the removal request. Provide a brief explanation for your request to remove the URL.
  • Click the “Request Removal” button to submit your request.
404 error removal request using Google webmaster

After submitting the removal request, Google will review it and decide whether or not to eliminate the URL from its search results. The process may take anywhere from several days to a few weeks.

If Google successfully removes the URL from its search results, it will not appear in search results or in the Google Cache. It is important for you to note that the URL may still exist on your website or other sites, and visitors may still access it through direct links or bookmarks.

If Google denies your removal request, they will send you an email explaining the reason for the rejection. In some cases, they may require you to take additional measures before eliminating the URL.

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Dibbyyan Nath is a well-known entrepreneur, philanthropist, and the Chief Creative Officer of Inteliqo Research and Services. Mr. Nath, over the past two decades, has donned a lot of hats, while writing has remained his first love. Now he aims to express his experiences, as the head of a digital marketing, content creating, and website development company, through his love for writing. To keep up with the young entrepreneur and his thoughts
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