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Soft 404 errors in Google Webmaster Tools


Dan Cole

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I've been watching my Google Webmaster tools recently and have noticed a number of soft 404 errors being reported when there is a link to a none existing product review. A response code of 200 is being generated but I guess with the number of none existing review pages that google is seeing it as a crawl error and treating them as soft 404s. I'm wondering if others are seeing this and what can be done to fix it?

 

Dan

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@@Dan Cole

 

Update and resubmit your sitemap.xml

 

 

Chris

 

As Google crawls the site (on its own) and finds review pages without any real content it is flagging them as soft 404 errors...not sure how our sitemap is going to change that any?

 

Dan

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Soft 404's are being reported much more by google than they used to be. It is important to investigate the errors to see why they are complaining. Many times it is because a product has been deleted, or can't be found, but the site isn't returning a 404. It can also be caused by the server not being ready when the scan is done. If that is the case, unless your server is not ready a lot, the errors will go away with the next scan but only if those pages are scanned. So it is also important to look at the date of the failure. It may be that the problem doesn't exist now and that the error occurred months ago. But if it is due to your review pages not being present, you can install the javascript review button addon (no idea what the real name is). That will prevent the search engines from seeing the review pages, which usually aren't very helpful anyway. Or you could install the addon that moves the reviews to the product pages so the review pages don't exist, thus eliminating the problem. Or some code changes could be made to handle the links as they fail, though I don't think this is the best choice. There may be other review-type addons that suit you better.

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Soft 404's are being reported much more by google than they used to be. It is important to investigate the errors to see why they are complaining. Many times it is because a product has been deleted, or can't be found, but the site isn't returning a 404.

 

Jack I thought that at first too but when I had a closer look I realized that in most cases it was the links to what would be a review page, when there is actually no review, that was causing the soft error.

 

It can also be caused by the server not being ready when the scan is done. If that is the case, unless your server is not ready a lot, the errors will go away with the next scan but only if those pages are scanned. So it is also important to look at the date of the failure. It may be that the problem doesn't exist now and that the error occurred months ago. But if it is due to your review pages not being present, you can install the javascript review button addon (no idea what the real name is). That will prevent the search engines from seeing the review pages, which usually aren't very helpful anyway. Or you could install the addon that moves the reviews to the product pages so the review pages don't exist, thus eliminating the problem. Or some code changes could be made to handle the links as they fail, though I don't think this is the best choice. There may be other review-type addons that suit you better.

 

Your advise is spot on as usual Jack...I'll have a look at the review button routine. Maybe Google is onto something....after all, if there is no review why am I offering the customer a link to what is in effect a non-existing review. Perhaps the best answer simply not to display the review, if there isn't one, or to present an optional button in those circumstances....ie be the first to write a review or something button. Thanks for getting me pointed in the right direction Jack.

 

Dan

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