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    Too many 404 errors SEO effect?


    Hi I run a small forum called letsforum.com and once I had a forum where people could share their links so as you can imagine it was pretty popular forum but then I had to get rid of it because it was not going well with SEO so I deleted like 400 threads but now I get huge 404 errors report in my Google webmasters account I am tired of clearing that report every day.

    Could you please tell me if this is somehow negatively impacts my SEO?
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    When you removed the forum you should have added a 301 redirect from it to your forum home page (or something more similar to the removed forum - if you have it). That way any incoming links to that part of the forum would be passing their "link juice" to the new location.

    If you're still getting 404 errors it could mean you have lots of incoming links (or it could mean your old forum is listed on some "SEO" site somewhere, as a source of free links)

    Either way - even though it's late now - you should still add a 301 redirect (so long as there are errors someone somewhere is trying to access the old pages).

    No more 404's, no more worries about negative effects (and perhaps no more lost traffic)!
    Last edited by ClickyB; Apr 29th, 2014 at 08:27 AM.
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    Hi thanks very much for your reply. Listen how about I do this?
    I create a .htaccess file and add each new 404 that Google returns that will help I guess?

    EDIT!!!!!!

    I just remembered that my forum redirects all invalid links to 404 page and returns 404 header!
    Last edited by SureNot; Apr 29th, 2014 at 09:04 AM.
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    Originally Posted by SureNot
    Hi I run a small forum called letsforum.com and once I had a forum where people could share their links so as you can imagine it was pretty popular forum but then I had to get rid of it because it was not going well with SEO so I deleted like 400 threads but now I get huge 404 errors report in my Google webmasters account I am tired of clearing that report every day.

    Could you please tell me if this is somehow negatively impacts my SEO?
    Google has blatantly said 404 errors do NOT directly affect rankings.

    Source: Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Do 404s hurt my site?

    Now, it does hurt UX, so proper redirects WOULD help your users/admins and members find the best source of content.

    I would not lose sleep over it.
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    Thanks very much I will follow your advice
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    Originally Posted by joshz
    Google has blatantly said 404 errors do NOT directly affect rankings.
    Yep... Folks still worry about it though (hence my previous comment).

    Originally Posted by SureNot
    Listen how about I do this?
    I create a .htaccess file and add each new 404 that Google returns that will help I guess?
    You removed one forum right? (Plus any sub-forums within it).

    So you only need to add a single 301 redirect to you .htaccess and you have no more 404's and no more lost traffic / links...

    Redirect 301 /old-folder/ http://www.yourdomain.com/

    Seems like a no-brainer to me!

    Originally Posted by SureNot
    I just remembered that my forum redirects all invalid links to 404 page and returns 404 header!
    That's ok - (perfectly normal)
    Last edited by ClickyB; Apr 30th, 2014 at 08:29 AM.
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    When doing 301s just be careful of sending all of them to one page (or a few pages) - you can run afoul of soft-404s. While 'proper' 404s are nothing to worry about, soft-404s should be.

    Personally I'd set up a cusom-404 page and for a start '404' the pages to there; then decide which of the 'old' pages are worth 301-ing.
    This can be a LOOOONG job if you go through all of your 404 list, so I'd just start at the top of the WMT not found list, letting Google order by importance, and any that have 'good' incoming links get 301'd to the best match page on the new setup.
    The others I'd leave to be caught by the custom-404 page (returning a 404). Personally, once I get to pages with no external backlinks I stop looking and let the rest de-index over time.
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    Thanks guys but I don't understand I have a plugin that returns header 404 if thread, forum or pretty much any strange URL is trying to access my website.

    Just for example this URL Google shows it in 404 Not found report. Please check it and tell me what you think.
    http://letsforum.com/forumdisplay.php?fid=141

    [Edit]

    I have used: HTTP / HTTPS Header Check tool and it says:

    HTTP/1.1 404 Not Found =>
    Date => Thu, 01 May 2014 20:33:07 GMT
    Content-Type => text/html; charset=UTF-8
    Content-Length => 11783
    Connection => close
    Server => Apache/2
    X-Powered-By => PHP/5.3.13
    Set-Cookie => sid=a1758aa3484ed3db21e6b27a9fde757c; path=/; domain=.letsforum.com; HttpOnly
    Vary => Accept-Encoding
    Clearly returns 404 header! I am not sure maybe I am confusing something.

    Please if you think you can help me to fix this I would really appreciate that.
    Last edited by SureNot; May 1st, 2014 at 03:35 PM. Reason: Ading more info
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    Thank you very much. You see I have a plugins called Google SEO plugin that handles all errors but invalid forum, thread, post is handled by internal PHP script so what I did is I redirected all invalid forum, thread, post to homepage as you suggested. I don't see any 404 related to threads, forums, posts anymore.

    Again thanks very much for your awesome support
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    404 errors will effect your SEO ranking Indirectly.
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    SureNot - There is one thing I notice...

    The url you posted above (letsforum.com/forumdisplay.php?fid=141) uses a Meta-Refresh to redirect to your forum home page. (I guess this is what your plug-in creates)?

    <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="3;URL=http://letsforum.com" />
    You should know that meta-refresh is the worst seo tactic for redirecting (it's a strategy that has been associated with blackhat seo in the past and is thought to pass little or no "link-juice").

    A proper 301 redirect is a far better solution.
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    Originally Posted by ClickyB
    SureNot - There is one thing I notice...

    The url you posted above (letsforum.com/forumdisplay.php?fid=141) uses a Meta-Refresh to redirect to your forum home page. (I guess this is what your plug-in creates)?



    You should know that meta-refresh is the worst seo tactic for redirecting (it's a strategy that has been associated with blackhat seo in the past and is thought to pass little or no "link-juice").

    A proper 301 redirect is a far better solution.
    Thanks very much. I have made some core edits and redirected all invalid forums, threads and posts to home page as suggested.

    Wow I though I fixed the issue as I am not getting any errors.

    The problem is I have to modify PHP. DO you know how can I make 301 redirect here?

    My script will show error every time there is an invalid forum, thread, post

    error($lang->error_invalidthread);

    I have replaced above with:

    redirect("{$mybb->settings['bburl']}", 'The specified post does not exist! You will now be redirected to home page.');

    What you see is user friendly redirect page that will refresh after 3 second.

    Please help me to make this right?

    <hr>
    P.S.

    Do you think I should add this:

    header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently");
    header("Location: {$mybb->settings['bburl']}");
    Last edited by SureNot; Jun 3rd, 2014 at 12:01 PM.
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    Originally Posted by SureNot
    Do you think I should add this:

    header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently");
    header("Location: {$mybb->settings['bburl']}");
    Yes... that should work

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    Thanks very much Is there a way to show a message to users saying that the thread or post doesn't exist?
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    There may well be a javascript that can do that, or you could create a 'landing page' with that message on it and redirect to it, rather than the home page... (So create a 'landing page' for deleted forums/threads with links to your main forums and maybe a list of latest posts etc).
    Last edited by ClickyB; Jun 3rd, 2014 at 12:32 PM.
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