Shopify @wpm 404 urls showing in Google Search Console

Shopify @wpm 404 urls showing in Google Search Console

The issue

In the dynamic world of e-commerce, a recent issue has surfaced for Shopify users, involving mysterious 'wpm' URLs appearing in Google Search Console. This concern, which has been a topic of discussion since December 2022, involves unidentifiable store URLs with a 'wpm' suffix. The problem caught the attention of many Shopify store owners as these URLs started to clutter their Google Search Console reports, creating confusion and concern over potential SEO impacts.

Another dimension to the issue was the appearance of both 'wpm' and 'web-pixel-manager' pages in different sections of Google Search Console. Users noted seeing 'wpm' pages in the 'Excluded by nonindex' tag report and 'web-pixel-manager' pages in the 'Not found (404)' section, indicating a broader issue.

What is Shopify wpm?

The 'wpm' suffix is related to Shopify's Web Pixels Manager (WPM), a tool designed to manage marketing and analytics pixels. The issue arose when these pixel URLs, not intended for indexing, began showing up in Google's index, leading to a surge in 404 errors and 'nonindex' tags in Google Search Console. This unintended indexing raised concerns among users about the potential negative impact on their site's SEO performance.

The initial solution by Shopify

Shopify initially addressed the issue by implementing a 'noindex, nofollow' directive and blocking 'wpm@' in the robots.txt file. However, this approach hit a snag. For pages already indexed by Google, the robots.txt block prevented the 'noindex' directive from being recognized by Google, effectively leaving these pages stuck in Google's index. This situation left many Shopify users seeking alternative solutions to mitigate the issue.

How merchants solved it

One such solution involved temporarily removing these URLs from the console and redirecting them to the homepage. This measure was seen as a stopgap, a way to inform Google that these pages were permanently moved, hoping that Google would eventually stop indexing these URLs.

Subsequent solution by Shopify

In response to the growing concerns, Shopify decided to act again. This time the solution involved stopping crawlers from executing JavaScript that led to the indexing of pixel URLs, so that new pixel URLs would not appear in Google Search Console reports. 404 and Noindex reports in GSC will eventually clear the old pixel urls as the URLs transitioned to 410 (Gone) status

Shopify have also reassured merchants that these 404 and noindexed pixel URLs do not negatively impact search engine crawling or crawl budget. They also advised against redirecting these 404s and using robots.txt to block crawling of pixel URLs, as these actions might prevent search engines from recognizing the noindex header. Additionally, they advised against drastic measures like changing domains to clear the GSC reports, cautioning that such actions could disrupt the store's SEO performance.

The Shopify @wpm 404 URL issue in Google Search Console highlights the challenges e-commerce platforms and their users face in the ever-evolving digital landscape. Luckily in this case the issue did not hurt the SEO of the merchant stores. Kudos to Shopify for acting upon this. You can find more about it in their blog post here.


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