Google Webmaster Tools Shows Problems with Soft 404 Errors


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The Lounge What is on Your Mind? Google Webmaster Tools Shows Problems with Soft 404 Errors
# 1  
Google Webmaster Tools Shows Problems with Soft 404 Errors

Well,

Sorry, but I cannot seem to fix the problem with the steady decline of ranking for unix.com pages with Google.

Google Webmaster Tools show that they are dropping our pages from the indexes more and more because of "Soft 404" errors which started after we moved to the new data center.

I cannot find the problem and the pages serve fine but Google shows these "Soft 404" errors.

I'm lost.

This is why our traffic at unix.com continues to fall, and I cannot find a way to fix it.
# 2  
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.
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# 3  
Hey Jim,

Thanks for replying,

Google Webmaster Tools provide the URLS of all the 404 errors.

When I test them, the URLs are all OK.

When I run some Chome extension to read the HTTPD headers, I see 404s which become 200s. It is like our URL rewriting software is causing this, but when I ask DragonByte support, they tell me their software does not cause this problem and are not helpful.

The problem started when we moved to a new server and a new version of Apache, so my guess is the issue is in the Apache2 configuration, but I cannot find the problem.

It's been like this (going down and down in the search ranking and number of pages indexed) since I moved to the new data center last year.

I cannot figure it out.

Let me know if you need to be added to webmaster tools for access, if you are experienced in GWT.

Thanks.
# 4  
I feel a bit guilty because I have noticed a few months ago strange behaviour and yes 404 errors quite often when just wanting to follow old posts and change room, I believed it was due to revamp of the site and so something normal, that is why I mentioned once I was a bit lost... I should have been more explicit and mentioned I also noticed these 404 appearing from time to time, but now I see no more...
Is it possible in Google DB the refs to links are now obsolete and needs a good refresh? This reminds me of when HP restructures ITRC, even now you may fall on pages not found... just like apps that had the server name(physical) or IP hard coded, you migrate and nothing works... though all is the same except for the server name or IP (HP did worse...)
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# 5  
Hi Victor,

Yeah, I feel bad too. I've been developing new features using Vue.js and the main site is having some issues since we moved to the new server.

I have spent around 20 hours on the problem so far, and no joy.

Google has dropped many great links from the index. We really do not have many "expired links".

As mentioned, in GWT, when I click on a link that Google says is a soft 404 error, the page loads fine. But if check with some header checking tools, the HTTP headers show 404 and then 200, which I would attribute to our URL rewriting software, but it was not an issue before changing data centers, and DBSEO says "no way it is our software".

It's like there is some small configuration error in Apache2, but I am lost to find it.
# 6  
@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?

Last edited by hicksd8; 05-01-2019 at 05:57 PM.. Reason: Correct typo
This User Gave Thanks to hicksd8 For This Post:
# 7  
Hey Dennis,

Thanks . That should not make a different, but I will follow up anyway and look deeper to see if any 302 redirect I configured related to that might have some adverse effect or unintended consequence.

I doubt it, but anything is worth a try to fix this problem!
This User Gave Thanks to Neo For This Post:
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