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Submitted url seems to be a soft 404 - but it is NOT, how to fix?

Discussion in 'Google' started by drd, Aug 5, 2019.

  1. #1
    We run a relatively large discussion forum that has been hit hard by Google over the past few years. We've done tons of stuff there to recover the traffic, to no end.

    But lets address one issue at a time. We're seeing several thousand pages listed in Google console under the label "Submitted url seems to be a soft 404" and none of those pages are actually 404s.

    Actually, the threads in question all seem to have valid content, quite a lot of content. Sure, some of the threads are pretty ancient (15yrs or more), but they're not definitely 404 pages.

    Any assistance what we could do with such URIs - deleting them or blocking Google from accessing those URIs that G deems "soft 404" seems silly.
    SEMrush
     
    drd, Aug 5, 2019 IP
    SEMrush
  2. Spoiltdiva

    Spoiltdiva Prominent Member

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    #2
    You're dealing with Googlebot and it is programmed to do what it does. Anyway a soft404 is a label not an official HTTP response code and Google does not index these pages. Anyway what to do?
    Empty search results pages?
    Empty ecommerce product categories?
    Empty blog categories?
    Also check out:
    Google Search Console
    Fetch as Google
    Yoast SEO plugin

    Maybe there is something in the above that might help you out. Good luck to you with all.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2019
    Spoiltdiva, Aug 5, 2019 IP
  3. drd

    drd Peon

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    #3
    Thanks. I know that pages, such as empty category pages, etc can result this error. And I know that it is not an official HTTP response code, but just something that Google determines.

    But heck, couple of thousand of seemingly valid pages, listed as "soft 404". And yes, did a live URL inspection via Google on those and they are fine.

    However, when I ask console to do a validation, those pages fail after couple of days and the validation stops.

    Here's an example of such page (Finnish discussion forum), a thread that is more than 16 years old, nothing in robots.txt or in meta to block its fetching. Yet, it is stubbornly listed as "soft 404" by Google:

    https://keskustelu.afterdawn.com/threads/tietoa-kodekeista.7095/
     
    drd, Aug 5, 2019 IP
  4. Spoiltdiva

    Spoiltdiva Prominent Member

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    #4
    Are you aware that Googlebot uses Google Translate? I know that this might be considered a bit of a stretch, but this could be the problem. Their translator is notoriously inaccurate and might be dinging you due to misinterpretation.
     
    Spoiltdiva, Aug 5, 2019 IP
  5. drd

    drd Peon

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    #5
    Nope, that probably wont be the reason either, because we're seeing exactly the same problem on our English forums, too. Forums that, once upon a time, used to be one of the big ones in tech scene. Thousands of forum threads, with valid content, tens of messages, no chit-chat -> boom, listed as "soft 404".

    And asking Google to validate the "fix" (as in, not doing anything about it, as the page is *not* 404, hard or soft) results with a "Validation failed" a week later.

    Drives me nuts..
     
    drd, Aug 5, 2019 IP
  6. Jim4767

    Jim4767 Prominent Member

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    #6
    To the OP: you've mentioned that some of the threads are 15 or more years old and come up a soft 404. 15 years should not be a problem. My website is exactly 15 years old, and all ~460 of our pages continue to be indexed by Google and are loaded when clicked. So I would suggest that the 15 years is not the problem, but something else.
     
    Jim4767, Aug 7, 2019 IP
  7. Ron Peters

    Ron Peters Greenhorn

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    #7
    You can use a permanent redirect 308 feature to redirect these pages to a new relevant web page.
    Hope that helps.
    Ron
     
    Ron Peters, Aug 9, 2019 IP