lisadunn

What does soft 404 error mean?

by @lisadunn (151), 4 years ago

I see this quiet often in SEO discussions, blog posts, etc.

Soft 404 error

But what does that really mean? Is there an hard 404 too? How are these different?

3311 Views
1 Upvote
3 Replies
3 Users
dummy image
by @ms (2286), 4 years ago best answer

Hi Lisa.

Guys at Search Engine Journal published nice article about 404 errors / error pages. I highly recommend it to read it, so you better understand what are they and when you should use 404 or eventually, how to fix 404 errors.

Check the full article here: 404 vs. soft 404 errors

However, to answer your question; 404 error means the page is missing, but the server responded with 200 (even it probably should be returning 404 or other 4xx HTTP response code). Google, with all the data, knows what are common patterns of 404 pages, so even after getting 200, they may flag the page in their index as missing (404).

What you should do is: return 404 code AND show 404 page, when the page is missing. Otherwise, you're telling user/search engine, that the requested page exists.

Was this answer helpful for you?
Sort replies:
ms
by @ms (2286), 4 years ago

Hi Lisa.

Guys at Search Engine Journal published nice article about 404 errors / error pages. I highly recommend it to read it, so you better understand what are they and when you should use 404 or eventually, how to fix 404 errors.

Check the full article here: 404 vs. soft 404 errors

However, to answer your question; 404 error means the page is missing, but the server responded with 200 (even it probably should be returning 404 or other 4xx HTTP response code). Google, with all the data, knows what are common patterns of 404 pages, so even after getting 200, they may flag the page in their index as missing (404).

What you should do is: return 404 code AND show 404 page, when the page is missing. Otherwise, you're telling user/search engine, that the requested page exists.

lishmaliny
by @lishmaliny (175), 2 years ago

A soft 404 is a URL that returns a page telling the user that the page does not exist and also a 200-level (success) code. In some cases, it might be a page with little or no content

william17
by @william17 (-106), 2 years ago

It is an error that describes a web request that returns a successful response code (200), but the response does not contain the expected content.

for example, an empty page.

Join the forum to unlock true power of SEO community

You're welcome to become part of SEO Forum community. Register for free, learn and contribute.

Log In Sign up