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Can You Redirect Links That Lead To 404 Pages & Gain Google SEO Value?

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Can You Redirect Links That Lead To 404 Pages & Gain Google SEO Value?


We know that links pointing to pages that do not exist, that 404 or some soft 404, are links that are not counted by Google – that is not new. But John Mueller of Google spoke about how sometimes you can redirect old 404 pages and that link may pass to the new page, even if that link is 404ed for years?

To be clear, a link that points to a 404ed page does not count. If that page is 404ed for a year or so, and then you add a redirect, I highly doubt Google will begin to count that link again. But John Mueller said that in some cases, if the links to the two year old 404ed page are super strong, that maybe Google will count it again after you redirect it. Or maybe he was being nice to the person asking the question?

John said “I’d say for for a certain while you can still go back and add a redirect for those individual links that you see like that. I don’t know if after two years it would make a big difference unless there are really strong links that are going to your site and kind of being lost like that.”

This question and answer came up at the 19:43 mark in the video hangout from last Friday:

Here is the transcript:

SEO: Another question is about the broken links on our website where our website has around 40k in pages and doubled the links. So we have around 20k of broken links caused by a migration gone bad from a platform to another platform. Since then we started noticing decrease in organic traffic. We used to rank let’s say for 20k, 25k per day in organic traffic now we’re only getting like 2k to 3k or 4k at max. So do you think it’s a great metric to SEO ranking to remove this these broken links and 404 pages?

John Mueller: When when did you do that migration? Is that longer ago?

SEO: Yes, it happened in 2020, about two years ago now.

John Mueller: My guess is for the most part that doesn’t matter anymore. So it is something I would watch out for with any migration because. Essentially the main thing you want to catch is the situation where someone externally links to your website and that link to your website essentially goes into nowhere. So if you see someone externally linking to a page that is now a 404 page because you forgot to redirect it, that link is is kind of lost. And if you see that happening at a larger scale then those those links are things that you will lose and that can be reflected in the search results over time as well.

I’d say for for a certain while you can still go back and add a redirect for those individual links that you see like that. I don’t know if after two years it would make a big difference unless there are really strong links that are going to your site and kind of being lost like that.

Glenn Gabe summed it up nicely in this set of tweets:

The video goes on to explain what you can look for to see if Google is still trying to access those 404s, hence your log files.

I just doubt a link to a 404 page that has been like that for two years is really recoverable but maybe I am wrong?

Forum discussion at Twitter.





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Microsoft Bing Says The lastmod Tag In XML Sitemap File Is Critical

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Microsoft Bing posted a new blog post saying “for XML sitemaps, one of the most critical tags you can include in your sitemap is the “lastmod” tag.” And it will become even more critical as Bing is reworking its crawl scheduling stack to rely more on this lastmod field.

Yes, by June, the way Bing decides what to crawl will be more dependent on the lastmod tag. Fabrice Canel from Microsoft wrote, “we are revamping our crawl scheduling stack to better utilize the information provided by the “lastmod” tag in sitemaps.” This is being done so it can “enhance” the “crawl efficiency by reducing unnecessary crawling of unchanged content and prioritizing recently updated content.”

“We have already begun implementing these changes on a limited scale and plan to fully roll them out by June,” he added.

So making sure your lastmod date is accurate is now even more important. It should be the last time you modified the URL, not the time the URL was first published and not the time the XML sitemap file was generated. In fact, that is the biggest issue Bing found with the field, that it often just shows the date the XML sitemap file was generated and not the date the page of the URL was last modified.

Here are some data points Bing put together on XML sitemaps:

  • 58% of hosts have at least one XML sitemap.
  • 84% of these sitemaps have a lastmod attribute set.
  • 79% have lastmod values correct.
  • 18% have lastmod values not correctly set.
  • 3% has lastmod values for only some of the URLs.
  • 16% of these sitemaps don’t have a lastmod attribute set.
  • 42% of hosts don’t have one XML sitemap

Oh, Bing still wants you to use the IndexNow protocol for the most efficient crawl solution but if you don’t – make sure your lastmod date is accurate.

In terms of Google, in 2015 Google said they don’t really use the lastmod date but then changed that in 2020 they said they do. The current Google documentation says, “Google uses the lastmod value if it’s consistently and verifiably (for example by comparing to the last modification of the page) accurate.”

Forum discussion at Twitter.



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Google Search Console Video Indexing Report Adds Impressions & Sitemap Filters

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Google has updated the video indexing report within Google Search Console to add impression data and a way to filter the report by your available sitemaps.

As a reminder, the video indexing report went fully live in August 2022 after Google started to slowly roll out the video index report within Google Search Console earlier in 2022.

Google added two new features to the report; impression data and a sitemap filter. Here is a GIF of these two features:

Video Indexing Google Report Upgrade

You can now overlay the impressions your indexed videos saw directly in this report. Google said, “the impressions are aggregated by page which means that if the same page appears multiple times in a single search result page (or a single Discover session), then we consider each appearance as an impression.”

Here is what it looks like:

click for full size

Google added, “The Search performance report groups video search appearances by property, not by URL, which means that if multiple pages show in a search results, we’ll count only one impression. As a result, the Search performance report can show lower impression counts than the Video page indexing report.”

The sitemap filter is a nice addition also, so you can see what videos you submitted via your sitemaps compared to what Google really indexed. Google said, “To help you focus on the video pages that matter most to you, you can now filter the Video indexing report to show only video pages that are present in a selected sitemap. The filter applies to all the report features: the chart, chart totals, issue list, and exports.”

Here is a screenshot of that:

click for full size

You also see a section in the sitemaps location for discovered videos:

Again, if Google sees videos on your site, Google will display the new “Video indexing report” on the left navigation bar in the coverage section of Google Search Console. The report shows the status of video indexing on your site. It helps you answer the following questions:

  • In how many pages has Google identified a video?
  • Which videos were indexed successfully?
  • What are the issues preventing videos from being indexed?

Forum discussion at Twitter.



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Helpful Content & Link Spam Update Done, SEO, Search Console & More

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