has used the internet is likely to have come across the 404: Page not found
error. When a page loads on a web browser, it has a response code in the
header. Typically response codes 400-499 are reserved for pages that did not
load for some reason.
What is a
404 is a
response code that means the page is no longer available, and wont be. That
said, imagine what it can do to your website. There are chances of misuse with
it, warn a WordPress development company in Hyderabad.
are caused by either a link that takes the user to a page that no longer
exists, or a faulty link that takes the user to a page that is not even there.
What are soft 404s?
are responses that the page is not found, but the message is not sent by the
server. Instead, it is sent by Google. The engine adds this 404 page not found
to its index.
Now that is
something we definitely must pay attention to!
happens is, Google is this giant spider crawling, indexing and saving it for
searches, right? When it comes across missing pages, or pages that load poorly,
or are configured badly, in order to optimise resources, it flags and indexes
it as 404.
the page may not actually be a 404 but is classified as one by google. This
could potentially affect SERPs (Search engine result pages) because engines
will continue to index these web-pages till they are fixed.
Difference between (Hard) 404 and Soft 404
lies in identification and classification by search engines. A hard 404 is what
everyone sees – the page is not displayed or does not exist for both the user
and the search engine.
On the other hand, a soft 404 is what only the user sees. The search
engine looks at it as a 200 OK error, meaning it is ok to crawl and index the
How do Soft 404 Errors Impact Site Ranking?
Yes. They do
affect and impact your website’s SERP. To understand why, let us look into how
a search engine actually works. Consider Google. Like explained earlier, the
giant spider crawls all over the big world wide web, and uses something called
a ‘crawl budget’ which is essentially a number that tells google of how popular
your site is, how many requests it gets etc. What it then does is assign an
index – a score on how the page must show up when a user searches for it. Now,
here is where it gets slightly tricky. If out of ten pages there are 3 pages
with soft 404 errors, Google will assign a lower crawl budget to your website,
thus bringing down your SERP.
Another major problem with soft 404 errors is a diminished user experience,
which is pretty obvious. So if there are a lot of soft 404 URLs, users would
end up seeing non-existent web-pages. This increases your website bounce rate
and can effect traffic, and in turn performance.
Effect on website
performance: Though soft 404
error pages are non-existent and don’t take up space as they do not have
content, they do take up bandwidth. SO you would be wasting bandwidth on pages
that do not add any value to your website or business performance.
fixing soft 404s:
It is easy
to miss soft 404s as a website owner. But it is also easy finding and fixing
them! One tool widely used in finding these is the Google search console. All
you have to do is do a basic check on it here
Once you verify site
ownership and follow the process through, 404 errors if any will show up. Soft
404s turn up as errors on the console. Most content management systems manage
these. Even otherwise it is a simple process, says a leading web development company in Hyderabad
. Target these 404s first. Now we get to fixing them.
If the cause of
the soft 404 is due to a linking error, you just have to fix the links. Use a
tool to find any broken or missing links and set them right. Some popular tools
to find broken links are ahrefs
and broken link checker
Page That No Longer Exists:
This one is
obvious. If the url is directing to a page that no longer exists and that is
the cause of the 404, you could either re-direct it to the new page, or retore
that page if necessary. This can be found by sifting through and finding all
linking errors on the website. You could use specific tools to identify and fix
these. Backlink research tools like Moz or Open Site Explorer can
help. These give you a list of backlinks reported to your site. You can go
through them and look for any links that need fixing.
you can identify potential and existing soft 404 based on the individual cause,
you can also deploy a crawling tool and detect soft 404 before the search
engine finds them. The crawling tool crawls the entire website, behaves like an
actual search engine would and classifies 404 errors accordingly.
The detection is the most important part, because once detected these
issues are usually easy fixes.
Google treats soft 404 errors and hard 404 errors the same way. Since this
effects website authority, and search engine ranking page SERP rankings, you must
pay close attention to them and fix them.