5 November 2012

404 Errors

Sometimes we get some 404 errors in our WMT and when we look at the "Linked from" tab we see that the problematic URL is being linked in certain pages where if we do a quick check there is no direct link to that file, not even inside of the Javascript code. So, where might be the problem then? if your client's website is using flash, that may be the origin of the problem.

One of our clients had a small flash gallery and the SWF file was loading it contents from an XML file which contained the list of images to be displayed. The SWF path was correct, the gallery was working seamlessly and we were continuously getting and 404 in WMT for those XML files. Obviously that XMLs were only linked inside the SWF files, and that was when we realized that Google was trying to index the SWF contents and when doing that it was crawling a wrong path for the XML files, and that was the reason why we were getting 404 errors alerts in files we never linked inside pages without a simple direct or visible link to them.

The solution, add the full path in the link to the XMLs files inside the SWF or a slash at the beginning of the URL to avoid the creation of non-existent URLs.

I hope you find this small tip useful, but sometimes when you don't know where the problem is or where to look for... it's a good idea to try other things that might not have sense at all at the beginning.

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