Recently, I was chatting with someone regarding Google’s latest updates and indeed they affirmed their secret plan for world domination. Well, at least it’s starting to seem that way based on their latest changes in Google Webmaster Tools. The addition of a ‘Not Followed’ tab section included under the Crawl Errors section sparked some controversy in the SEO community. I know what you’re thinking, “Great, another thing to worry about in Google Webmaster Tools”. Truthfully, I was a bit on the fence about this new feature as well however after fiddling around with it for some time, I can to the realization that it may actually be quite useful in conjunction with SEO endeavors.
Let’s break down the new ‘Not Followed’ tab section in the Crawl Errors section of Google Webmaster Tools.
Understanding the ‘Not Followed’ Tab in Google Webmaster Tools
Anyone engaged in SEO, should probably have some level of familiarity in Google Webmaster Tools. If not, it’s time to sign up and get crackin’. GWT keeps an eye on the overall performance of your site and it’s important to maintain a steady pulse on it at all times. Consider your website as the virtual entity of a brand serving as a mirror to potential customers.
So, what is a ‘Not Followed’ error? These are urls that Google was unable to completely follow. For example, a pre-existing page on a website may get removed. The url address to that page will most likely remain in Google’s index but will generate a broken page (404 error) if a user clicks on it. The solution for such scenario is to locate a corresponding url within the website where you can redirect the old page to or also known as a 301 redirect. When 301 redirects are improperly configured, Google will report such urls as ‘Not Followed’ along with additional information explaining the reason. It’s quite common that certain 301 redirects may spark infinite loops therefore causing Google to report this under the ‘Not Followed’ tab of Crawl Errors.
Accessing ‘Not Followed’ Tab
You’ll need to start out with Google Webmaster Tools by signing in first. Keep in mind that an existing website profile is required in order to access this particular section. If you’re new to GWT, start with the help center section to gain a better understanding of fundamentals. Next, follow the quick steps below to dive into the Crawl Errors section.
- Select the website profile which you’d like to edit in Google Webmaster Tools
- Under ‘Site Dashboard’ select the ‘Crawl’ drop-down menu & then select ‘Crawl Errors’
- Look for the ‘Not Followed’ tab under Desktop, Smartphone, or Feature Phone main tabs
Importance of the ‘Not Followed’ Tab Section
Infinite loops can arise at any time or for any given reasons on a website. Particularly when there’s a change in the hierarchal structure that particularly impacts permalink structure. Avoiding ‘Not Followed’ issues on your website will most likely present accessibility challenges of potential visitors seeking specific information. It comes down to accessibility and providing website visitors the ability to find information they’re looking for. This particular section in Google Webmaster Tools maintains high alert on arising issues.