Google Soft 404 Detection Problem Discovered
Recently, people reported an ongoing problem regarding soft 404 response codes, and even some of the top SEO consultants and businesses have experienced losses in traffic. Google’s John Mueller told SEO consultants and webmasters that this problem may be caused by how Google currently detects and handles soft 404s.
Before moving forward, it’s important to know the different types of response codes. A 404 error response is defined as a code that a webpage sends to a web browser or Google, informing them that a certain page they are looking for does not exist anymore.
Meanwhile, the 200 Response Code is a server’s response to a visitor, telling them that the page they are looking for still exists.
As for soft 404s, this response code happens when a web browser or Google receives a 200 Response Code for a page that does not have enough content and should be returning a 404 page. In some situations, a visitor may get redirected from a non-existent page to an existing one. If the existing page that they were redirected to is completely different from the original page that they were looking for, a soft 404 may also occur.
The difference between a 404 Response Code and a soft 404 Page is that the former tells the visitor the webpage they are looking for no longer exists, while the latter refers to a webpage that has problems, leading Google to treat it as non-existent.
One SEO asked Mueller about the matter, stating that they recently noticed a huge problem with one of their projects: soft 404 errors. This means that their daily rankings were decreasing, and they have had no idea what caused the error nor do they have any solutions for it. They also mentioned that other SEOs were experiencing the same problem.
Mueller replied, saying that he was able to track the URLs and have their team analyse the situation more deeply. He then asked the SEO to post their domain name, offering him further help by forwarding it to the Google team. The person, however, declined his help as it was a well-known brand. Mueller then offered more information about what was happening behind the scenes, saying their team has found a few things that may have caused the traffic losses.
The SEO asked a follow-up question, asking if the problem lies with Google’s side or the publisher’s side. Mueller admitted that it was potentially caused by a small change that Google made in their soft 404 detection.
He noted that they’ve had a recent problem that causes Google to drop the desktop rankings of several websites. It could be a Soft 404 Bug, which affects some sites that are not supposed to experience such problems.
Therefore, it is crucial for SEO consultants and website owners to check and monitor their rankings daily, especially during the time that Google’s Soft 404 Bug happened; doing so will help them determine if they are one of the affected websites.
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