Question: Does Google index 404 pages?


Google does not typically index 404 (Not Found) pages. The primary function of a 404 error is to inform both users and search engines that the requested page does not exist. When Googlebot crawls a URL and receives a 404 status, it understands that there is no content to index.

How Google Handles 404 Errors

When Google's crawler (Googlebot) encounters a 404 status code at a URL, it will initially treat this as a temporary state. Google might revisit the URL several times over the course of days or weeks to check if the 404 persists. If the error continues, Google will eventually drop the URL from its index, understanding that the page is permanently unavailable.

Best Practices for Managing 404 Pages

To improve user experience and manage how search engines handle your site's 404 errors, consider the following practices:

  1. Custom 404 Page: Create a helpful 404 page that provides navigation options, a link to your homepage, or even a search box. This can help retain visitors who might otherwise leave your site.
  2. Monitor and Fix: Use tools like Google Search Console to monitor 404 errors on your site. This can help you find and fix broken links or incorrectly removed pages.
  3. Proper Redirects: If a page has moved, use proper HTTP 301 redirects instead of letting old URLs return a 404 error. This preserves page ranking signals and guides users and search engines to the correct page.

By managing 404 pages effectively, you ensure a better user experience and maintain your site's health in regard to search engine optimization.

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