Google Webmaster Tools Shows Problems with Soft 404 Errors


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# 8  
I upgraded our version of DBSEO and checked many links, some 10 years old and older, and none show any soft 404 errors in DevTools (Chrome 73).

Maybe the issue was with the version of DBSEO were were running.

Will log into GWT soon and post some of the links GWT recently reported as "soft 404" and we can examine them one at a time.
# 9  
OK.

I have rechecked three dozen or more links that Google Search Console had listed as "soft 404" errors, using three different HTTP header inspection tools (using Chome browser):
  • DevTools (Chrome 73)
  • HTTP Header Spy 2.0.49
  • HTTP Headers 1.1

None of them show any 404 errors of any kind, hard or soft; and all links are providing the correct 200 responses. Some of the URL rewritten by DBSEO go 302 -> 200, but this is technically correct.

As far as all the tools in my toolbox, we are running as we should.
# 10  
Also, from Google Search Console:

Data anomalies in Search Console - Search Console Help

Quote:
April 9-25, 2019
Search Console experienced a data outage that ceased on April 26. The outage affected all reports except the Performance report. All missing data from April 9-25 was replaced with the data from April 26, when data began to be available again.

April 5, 2019
Because of internal management of our Search index, some pages of your websites might have been dropped from our index for a period of a few days without any action on your part. The matter has been resolved, no further action from your side is needed.

April 3, 2019
For most enhancement reports, data is now being collected from more pages than previously reported. Because of this, you might see an increase in issues and affected items/pages on these reports.
So,, let's let it run for a while and see how things go and what direction things move.
# 11  
This is interesting. Google Search Console lists this page as "Soft 404" cannot index status, but when I check all the HTML headers when Google checks, it is "clean"...

Code:
https://www.unix.com/man-page/centos/9/idr_replace/

Code:
HTTP Header Spy
Settings
GEThttps://search.google.com/search-console?hl=en
HTTP/1.1 302

394 ms

172.217.194.101

GEThttps://search.google.com/search-console?hl=en&resource_id=https://www.unix.com/
HTTP/1.1 200

810 ms

172.217.194.101

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HTTP/1.1 200

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HTTP/1.1 200

295 ms

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859 ms

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HTTP/1.1 200

679 ms

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HTTP/1.1 200

56 ms

172.217.194.101

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HTTP/1.1 200

44 ms

172.217.194.102

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HTTP/1.1 200

632 ms

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application/json; charset=utf-8
cache-control
no-cache, no-store, max-age=0, must-revalidate
pragma
no-cache
expires
Mon, 01 Jan 1990 00:00:00 GMT
date
Tue, 07 May 2019 05:29:01 GMT
content-disposition
attachment; filename="response.bin"; filename*=UTF-8''response.bin
x-content-type-options
nosniff
content-encoding
gzip
server
ESF
x-xss-protection
0
x-frame-options
SAMEORIGIN
alt-svc
quic=":443"; ma=2592000; v="46,44,43,39"
POSThttps://play.google.com/log?format=json&hasfast=true
HTTP/1.1 200

205 ms

172.217.194.102

status
200
access-control-allow-origin
https://search.google.com
access-control-allow-credentials
true
access-control-allow-headers
X-Playlog-Web
p3p
CP="This is not a P3P policy! See g.co/p3phelp for more info."
content-type
text/plain; charset=UTF-8
content-encoding
gzip
date
Tue, 07 May 2019 05:29:01 GMT
server
Playlog
cache-control
private
content-length
131
x-xss-protection
0
x-frame-options
SAMEORIGIN
alt-svc
quic=":443"; ma=2592000; v="46,44,43,39"
expires
Tue, 07 May 2019 05:29:01 GMT

and I check the same outside of Google Search Console, I get a very clean and simple 200:

Code:
HTTP Header Spy
Settings
GEThttps://www.unix.com/man-page/centos/9/idr_replace/
HTTP/1.1 200 OK

1s 194 ms

209.126.104.117

Date
Tue, 07 May 2019 05:31:57 GMT
Server
Apache/2.4.29 (Ubuntu)
Cache-Control
private
Pragma
private
X-UA-Compatible
IE=7
Vary
Accept-Encoding
Content-Encoding
gzip
Content-Length
8757
Keep-Alive
timeout=5, max=100
Connection
Keep-Alive
Content-Type
text/html; charset=UTF-8

# 12  
The above posts makes no sense.

Google declares this page is "not indexable" due to "soft 404 errors" but Google's own "Check Live URL tool" shows the page has no 404 errors, soft or not, and is fully 200 "clean".

When I repeat the test without Google, results are also "200" clean as a whistle.

Maybe it's a Google plot against this site, as all the SEO gurus tell me our on-page SEO is really great

Hmmm.
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# 13  
Quote:
Originally Posted by hicksd8
@neo......remember this (heated) discussion between us?

Copying our content????

In your post#4 you said that you had put a 302 on the old site.

Is that 302 still in place? Could it be causing this?
Hi Dennis,

I checked that that 302 has not been in place for some time, as it was related to the site below, which was the user of the IP address before we changed hosting providers when we had the data center crisis:

Code:
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1244 Nov 17 05:53 armazem239.com.br.conf
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2256 Nov 17 05:53 armazem239.com.br-le-ssl.conf

According to Google Search Console, the site began having problems around mid March; and from end of March / early April until now we have lost a lot of organic Google referral traffic.

Image

The graph over 16 months shows that, except for the end of year slow down, google search referrals have been steady until mid March when they started on a steady decline which is still going in the wrong direction.

Google announced a Google bug in the first week of April where they said the dropped links from sites; and we were seeming effected by that bug.

Quote:
The deindexing bug started on the afternoon of Thursday 4th April 2019. It then evolved over a number of days, with the first comments coming from Google’s John Mueller on Saturday 6th April 2019.
I have checked Google Search Console and are site does not report errors or any issues; so maybe over time our index will increase and traffic will back to normal.

Also, sometime in last April, Revive Ad server notified customers that their ad server was subject to SQL injection attacks. We upgrade within a few days of the advisory, but after upgrading, I noticed our ad server had already been compromised and was serving adware invisible to the user. I fixed that problem as soon as I found out.

The "soft 404 errors" seem to be better; but I have requested Google to revalidate and increase crawl rate.

The SQL injection issue is fixed, so I'm guessing in April we got hit by a number of "whammys" all of which have been fixed by either Google or Revive; so my fingers are crossed things will recover slowly.

Also, I plan to move off Revive ad server and to another ad server platform because I've lost confidence in Revive. Currently looking for an alternative.

Cheers.


See also: How Bad Was Google's Deindexing Bug? - Moz

According to many SEO blogs, we are just one of many websites adversely effected by the deindexing bug; and when we combine that with the Revive bug, it was a very rough month for us in April.
# 14  
Quote:
Originally Posted by jim mcnamara
I'm sure Neo knows this:

Soft 404 are not actual defined errors. They are usually caused by thin content - examples: an URL that finds a useless error message, or a basically empty page. Or the in the case of case of forums only: no posted response. Automatic generation of Wordpress tags when someone looks for something new and non-existent, is an example of the "oops page". Apparently soft 404 a is a googlebot response, not a real error. But you get dinged anyway.

The basic idea is:
I do a search on the the word 'furkle' - UNIX.com returns a 200, with a page saying 'Oops'. Sort of like 'dangling URLs'. Googlebot then has the smarts to see that this is a thin page. For forums only when googlebot sees a question with with zero replies - i.e, possibly lots of views - but no posted answers this situation generates this kind of response. You also get this when someone writes a nice piece, but nobody answers it, even though it is high content, "likes" do not count.

I helped clean up literally thousands really old posts on a science site - for the very reason I mentioned above, per the site owner. The discussion sub-forum had about 1500 posts we removed, for example. Humans had to go in on zero reply posts, and do one of:
1. delete the post
2. add a small bit of content like a link to some relevant comment or a link to external/internal page
3. flag the post for someone else who knows the stuff required. Because the post has some merit.

For Neo:
Do we have a way to create tracking the original source of possible airball URL requests? Please share if you do.
How is our zero reply problem?
I can only play with ordering by view count on a given forum:
https://www.unix.com/programming/?or...ort=replycount
Lots of zero replies. Do not know if this is bad or not.
Hi Jim,

I think you hit the nail on the head.

I was checking various links in the Google Search Console and noticed that short questions with no replies, what you refer to as "thin content" were being classified as "soft 404" by Google even though the server did not give any errors and the HTTP headers were fine.

This post is a clear example:

Code:
https://www.unix.com/shell-programming-and-scripting/177815-error-occurred-during-initialization-vm.html

This thread gave a "soft 404 error" in Google Search Console over and over. Then I wrote a reply (you can easily see the reply) retested and Google gave the green light, all OK.

So, Jim McNamara was right on target.

Google is dropping pages from the index with "thin content" which includes very short forum questions without answers. Long questions with plenty of content appear to be fine.

Great work Jim.

I need to issue a new badge to you for this when I get a chance !!! Smilie
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