What is a Not Followed Error in Google Search Console?

Whether you have an intricate website with hundreds of pages or a basic website with just a few pages, it is a best practice for any individual or business with a website to keep a watchful eye on the status of everything in Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools). Not only will this feature help you understand what you are doing right with your website, but it will also indicate any problems that Google encounters along the way. One such issue is a not followed error.

What is a Not Followed Error?

A not followed error occurs when Google cannot completely follow a URL. If Google is unable to follow certain URLs within your website, then all of your pages and content may not get indexed by the search engine.

How Do You Fix a Not Followed Error?

To correct a not followed error, you must first determine why Google could not follow the URL.

  1. Does your website include features such as Flash, JavaScript, frames, DHTML, session IDs, or cookies? If so, search engine spiders like Googlebot can have a difficult time crawling your website. To get a better understanding of what Googlebot can access, you can try viewing your website in a text browser (such as Lynx). You can also use the Fetch as Google tool to see how Google renders a URL on your website and if Googlebot can access the page.
  2. Does your website use dynamic pages? If your website uses dynamic pages, Googlebot can sometimes have a difficult time crawling them. Avoid dynamic pages and/or keep your parameters short to ensure that all of your URLs can be followed.
  3. Are your redirects implemented correctly? For Google to successfully follow your URLs, you need to take the proper steps when using redirects.
    1. When permanently redirecting one page to another on your website, make sure you are using a 301 redirect so that Google knows the page has moved to a new location for good.
    2. Ensure that all of your redirects are pointing to the correct pages. The last thing you want is a redirect that takes users and Google to an invalid URL.
    3. Use absolute links instead of relative links. For example, link to www.mysite.com/example123.html instead of just example123.html
    4. Exclude redirected URLs from your website sitemap.
    5. Keep your redirect URLs short and simple, and make sure they aren’t automatically including unnecessary information in them, such as session IDs.
  4. Does your website force Googlebot to crawl it with session IDs? Anything that tracks its path through your website could result in a not followed error.