Anyone who pays attention to their website visitor statistics has seen them – the dreaded 404 errors, well despair no more because we are going to show you how to ask Google to remove and de-index your old URL’s, images and files.

If your domain name has too many 404 errors then there are a number of consequences when it comes to your Search Engine Optimisation and ranking for search results. Below is a brief list on some of the top level issues that 404 errors can bring to your domain name:-

  • Your sites reputation may be hurt in the eyes of search engines
  • Your sites search rankings may suffer as a consequence of the above
  • Your site may incur long term penalties as a result of the 404’s
  • Your site may be banned from the search engine index

 

What is a 404 Error

The 404 or Not Found error message is an HTTP standard response code indicating that the client was able to communicate with the server but either the server could not find what was requested (i.e. the page URL, image or file), or it was configured not to fulfill the request and did not reveal the reason why.

A common cause of a 404 can be when a site owner moves from a static site to a dynamic one such as moving from a HTML website to a WordPress website where the URL no longer ends with .html

 

What can I do to fix 404 errors

There are a couple of things to be considered here and one of the first things I always advise people is to take a good look at their 404’s and decide if a URL, file or image is genuinely no longer in use on the server or whether the URL has simply changed.

If it is the latter then you should consider telling the search engines that the URL has moved by adding a 301 redirect.

 

For instance, if you are using a WordPress website and want to use your .htaccess file for the redirect then use the code below:-

#USER ADDED 301s

redirect 301 /oldpage.html http://www.site.com/newpage/

#END USER ADDED 301s

 

Alternatively, you can use this Redirection plugin that will not only easily manage your 301 redirects but will also give you access to a host of useful tools such as being able to upload and download your 404’s via csv files as well as giving you error logs.

For a HTML site, place the following code inside the original file to tell search engines to look at the new destination:-

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0; url=http://www.YOURDOMAIN.COM/NEW-URL.html“>
</head>
<body>
</body>
</html>

 

Removing 404 Errors from Google’s Index

Step 1

Login to your Google Webmaster Tools then come back and click this link www.google.com/webmasters/tools/removals?pli=1

 

Step 2

One by one copy and paste all of the dead 404 error links into the “Remove Outdated Content” box and click Request Removal

 

Click the image below to take a closer look on removing 404 Errors From Google’s Index

Removing 404 Errors From Google's Index

 

Repeat this process until you have submitted a request to remove all of the 404’s from Google’s index.

If you get stuck then feel free to drop us a line and we’ll do our best to help you out!