Google Search Console errors: What they mean and how you can fix them

Veröffentlicht: 17. March 2024

The GSC provides a wealth of information about the performance of your website in Google’s search results.

From monitoring your website presence to identifying opportunities for improvement, the Search Console is a useful tool for a successful SEO strategy.

In particular, Google Search Console can reveal a large number of errors that, if ignored, can have a negative impact on the visibility and ranking of your website.

From canonical URLs and 404 errors to problems with mobile usability – these error messages are not only warning signals, but also opportunities for optimization. Understanding what these errors mean and how to fix them is crucial to the success of your website.

In this article, we take a look at the most common Google Search Console errors, explain the background and provide you with solutions.

Status code notifications

403 error

A 403 error indicates that access to a page or resource has been denied by the server. This can happen if the access rights for certain URLs are inadequately configured or if certain content is deliberately blocked for certain users or the Googlebot.

A 403 error can be a bad experience for both users and search engines as it blocks access to important page content.

To fix a 403 error, first check the access rights of your files and directories on the server. Make sure that read permissions are set correctly, especially for content that should be publicly accessible.

If you want to deliberately block certain content, consider using other methods, such as setting up password protection instead of triggering a 403 error. Also check your .htaccess file and other server configuration settings to make sure there are no unwarranted access restrictions.

If you use content delivery networks (CDNs) or firewall settings that control access to your site, make sure that these are configured correctly and do not inadvertently block Googlebot.

404 error

A 404 error occurs when a page cannot be found. This can happen if a page has been deleted, the URL has been changed without setting up a redirect, or due to typing errors in links.

To fix 404 errors, you should regularly check the GSC for pages not found and either restore the pages in question, set up permanent 301 redirects for deleted or moved content or correct incorrect links.

Soft 404 error

A soft 404 error occurs when a non-existent page returns a 200-OK status code instead of triggering a 404 error. This can happen if a missing page is redirected to a custom error page without sending the correct status code.

To fix Soft 404 errors, make sure that pages not found return the status code 404 and avoid using custom error pages without the correct status code.

5xx error

5xx errors indicate server problems that prevent a page from loading. These errors can be caused by server overload, configuration errors or problems with the website programming.

To fix 5xx errors, you should check your server logs to identify the exact cause and then take appropriate action, such as increasing server capacity, fixing configuration errors or checking the website codebase.

If these errors occur frequently and / or regularly, you should definitely contact your hosting provider.

Page with redirection (3xx error)

Redirects, especially if they occur in chains, can impair crawler efficiency and cripple your site. Make sure that redirects are used correctly to move content.

Avoid redirect chains by always forwarding directly to the target URL. Regularly check the redirects on your site to make sure they are set up efficiently and correctly.

Alternative page with canonical tag

The canonical tag (rel=”canonical”) is a tool that helps webmasters to signal the preferred version of a page to search engines if several versions exist (e.g. through parameters in URLs, session IDs or similar content on different URLs).

This helps to avoid problems with duplicate content by clarifying which page should be indexed and displayed in the search results.

Problems arise if the canonical tag is used incorrectly, for example by marking the wrong page as canonical or by contradictory signals across different tags.

Make sure that the canonical tag only refers to the preferred URL and is applied consistently across all duplicates. Regularly check the implementation of your canonical tags to make sure they are correct.

Duplicate – Google has designated a different page than the user as the canonical page

If Google determines a page other than the one specified by the user as canonical, this indicates inconsistencies or conflicts in the signals Google receives regarding the canonical content.

This can be caused by contradictory canonical tags, by redirects or by links from external pages.

To fix this problem, you should check all canonical tags on your website and make sure they are consistent and point to the preferred URL.

Also check all internal and external links that refer to the pages in question. Adjust here if possible and lead them directly to the “right” page.

Make sure that redirects are set up correctly and do not conflict with the canonical tags.

It can also be helpful to minimize the use of redirects and instead link directly to the canonical version to send clear signals to search engines.

Crawled – currently not indexed

The status “Crawled – currently not indexed” in the Google Search Console indicates that Google has crawled a page but has not included it in the search index.

This can have various causes, e.g. low page quality, duplicate content or temporary crawl errors.

To fix this problem, you should first check the quality of the page in question and make sure that it offers unique and valuable content that complies with Google’s guidelines.

In addition, it can be helpful to improve internal and external linking to the site to increase its authority.

Also check whether the page has been excluded from the index via a robots.txt file or noindex meta tags and correct this if necessary.

Found – currently not indexed

In contrast to the status “Crawled – currently not indexed”, “Found – currently not indexed” means that Google knows the page but has not yet crawled it. This may indicate a crawl budget problem or that Google considers the page to be less important.

Experience has shown that the best way to solve this problem is to build up backlinks, both internal and external. Your general page quality should also be right so that Google provides you with an appropriate crawling budget.

Sitemap problems

Sitemaps are a guide for search engines such as Google to better understand the content of a website and crawl it more efficiently. Problems arise when sitemaps are missing, outdated or contain errors.

A common challenge is, for example, a sitemap that contains URLs that lead to 404 errors or one that contains very old URLs that are no longer relevant.

To fix these problems, you should regularly ensure that your sitemap is up-to-date and contains only valid URLs.

For WordPress users, we recommend plugins such as RankMath, which largely take care of your sitemap automatically.

Security problems

Security issues such as hacking and malware can not only affect the user experience, but also damage your ranking in search results. Google flags websites that have been compromised and can remove them from search results to protect users.

To prevent hacking and malware, you should carry out regular security checks and close security gaps on your website.

Use secure passwords, keep software and plugins up to date and regularly check your website for signs of compromise.

Also use GSC’s security features to receive alerts if Google finds malware or other security issues on your website.

Dealing with insecure resources on HTTPS pages, known as mixed content, is another important security issue. Make sure that all resources (images, scripts, CSS files) are loaded via HTTPS to ensure the integrity and security of your website.

Access and indexing problems

Blocked resources and redirect errors can affect Google’s ability to crawl and index your website. Use the GSC to check reports on blocked resources and make sure that your robots.txt file is not preventing Googlebot from crawling important content on your website.

Redirect errors, especially chain redirects, can slow down the crawling process and affect the user experience. Check and optimize redirects by ensuring that they lead directly to the destination without several intermediate steps.

Structured data and rich snippets

Errors in structured data can affect the display of rich snippets in search results. Use the structured data tool in the GSC to identify and correct errors. Correctly implemented structured data not only improves the presentation of your website in the SERPs, but can also increase the click-through rate.

Mobile usability

With the increasing importance of mobile devices, it is crucial that your website works well on mobile devices. The GSC provides a mobile usability report that highlights issues such as font sizes that are too small, touch elements that are too close together and content that is wider than the screen.

To fix these issues, use a responsive design that automatically adapts to different screen sizes and regularly check your website for mobile usability issues to ensure an optimal user experience on all devices.

Final tip

To check for almost all of these common Google Search Console errors, you should take a look at the Screaming Frog SEO Spider tool. You can even use this free of charge for up to 500 URLs.

It takes a little time to get used to, but it will make your life easier in the long term and I think it’s a good idea. much more productive than with the Search Console.

Hannes Kaltofen

Hannes Kaltofen

Gründer & Geschäftsführer

Seit über 7 Jahren in den SERPs unterwegs. Dank SEO konnte Ich das Affiliate Marketing, Blogging und Agenturgeschäft kennelernen und helfe Unternehmen tagtäglich bei ihrer Sichtbarkeit.

WordPress Cookie Notice by Real Cookie Banner