Issues and errors aren’t uncommon in the life of a webmaster or an SEO professional. You are continuously working to improve the search ranking of your website, yet you are being notified with technical errors, one after another. That happens, and there is nothing to worry about it. You just need to learn how you can fix a certain error. Fixing the problems at the earliest is the best thing that you can do so that your search ranking will not be affected negatively. You have to pay high if you ignore the issues.
One of the most common technical errors that many webmasters and SEO professionals are notified by Google Search Console is ‘404 – submitted URL not found’. Although it’s common, it’s also a serious issue that can deteriorate the ranking of other pages of your site. If you resolve the errors, you can do a great favor for the search engine ranking of your webpages.
Here is a simple guide that can help you in fixing the ‘404 not found’ issues for the URLs that you have submitted to Google through sitemaps. The steps involve:
- Know the meaning of Submitted URL Not Found (404) error
- Check for the error details for 404 not found
- Find the exact issues why the error occurred
- Resolve the issues for 404 errors
- Let Google know that you have resolved it
1. Know the Meaning of ‘Submitted URL Not Found (404)’
The HTTP response code 404 simply inform that the page you are trying to open in a browser is unavailable in the server due to some reasons. The reasons may be – either the page has been deleted or moved or improperly modified, or there is a typographical error in searching the page. It’s mainly a client-side error.
When Google Search Console let you know that the submitted URL has a 404 error, it simply means that although the page was submitted through an XML sitemap for crawling and indexing purpose, the assigned Googlebot was unable to find the page in the server. You can understand that you have either deleted or modified the page URL, but yet not have reported to Google about the changes.
Beside modification and deletion, there may me some other complex reasons you need to be aware of. I’ll discuss these type of complexities in step 3.
2. Check for Not Found (404) Error Details
You can check the error details for ‘Submitted URL Not Found (404)’ in your Google Search Console Account. The initial information about the error will look like this:
Click on the error type. You’ll be redirected to details of affected pages. This will look like as follow:
3. Find Out the Exact Reason Why the Error Occurred
Clicking on any of the URLs listed will provide you more information. Just after clicking on the affected link, a right panel will open. The panel will look like this:
Here you can find two options. One – ‘Inspect URL’ and the second, ‘Test robots.txt Blocking’. since the URL has been reported as ‘not found’, you will find no useful information by inspecting the URL. The only option you need to do is to go for testing robots.txt blockage.
While you click on ‘Test robots.txt Blocking’, you’ll find whether the page is blocked for Google crawlers or not. If it’s blocked by robots.txt, go for resolving the issue specified in the Step 5. If it’s not blocked, it will look like:
If your page isn’t blocked to Google crawlers by any robots.txt, there can be many other reasons that can’t be found on Search Console. You need to find the exact issue why such error occurred. You can find the issue by checking your XML sitemaps and the concerned website. The first step you should follow is to check the URL you have submitted through sitemaps.
Check the parent directory of your website to find the sitemaps. You can find it in the root of your website. If you are using a WordPress site, you can find the same with your SEO plugin.
There is possibilities that you may have more than one sitemaps. Click on each sitemap to find where the outdated URLs exist.
4. Resolve the Issue for 404 Errors
Once you got the exact reason why the 404 error was reported, you can easily resolve the issue. The reason can either you have temporally or permanently moved a page from one URL to another or deleted the page or your sitemap isn’t updated.
If the error is due to moving a page from one URL to another, just apply a 301 redirect and the issue will be resolved.
If it is the sitemap you submitted to Google contain the URLs that no more exist, simply update your sitemaps and no issue will persist. Updating sitemaps also help you in removing outdated or deleted URLs from the sitemaps.
Note that updating the sitemaps will, although, fix the errors from your side, it will not remove the URLs from the Google cache. Hence, you have to request Google through your search console account to remove those outdated pages. In order to do so, click on the ‘Removal’ tab at the right panel of your Search Console dashboard. Click on remove outdated content and submit the required URLs, one after another.
5. Let Google Know that Issues Have Been Fixed
After fixing the issue, never forget to inform Google through Search Console that you have fixed the issue. You can do it by clicking on the ‘Validate Fix’ button as it’s shown in the bellow image.
Note that Google will take the time to pass the validation. It may take a minimum of 24 hours to maximum two weeks depending upon how frequently Google bots crawl your pages. Till validation passed, the status will be ‘validation started’.
In case you couldn’t fix the issue, let me know in the comment. I’ll tell you the alternative method.