Thursday, July 18, 2024

Google Cautions on Soft 404 Errors and SEO Implications

Staying ahead of potential pitfalls is crucial in SEO. Lately Gary Illyes from Google highlighted the soft 404 errors issue. The soft 404 errors is considered as a minor issue by many, but it is not correct. The issue can have significant consequences for web crawling and SEO efforts.

Soft 404 error occurs when a web server returns a “200 OK” HTTP status code for a non-existing page or for a page that contains an error message. However, it is misleading for web crawlers while interpreting status codes and determine whether a page fetch was successful. Web crawlers usually experience waste of resources by visiting such pages repeatedly.

Illyes said that it is not just about wasting crawler resources. The pages are unlikely to appear in search result too. The pages are filtered out during the indexing process. Hence, opportunities to attract visitors through search engines are lost. It is recommended to serve the appropriate HTTP status code when an error occurs. This will allow crawlers to understand the situation and thereafter allocate the resources accordingly and more efficiently.

Illyes further warned against using text-based instructions like “TOO MANY REQUESTS SLOW DOWN”. Crawlers fail to interpret such messages and thereafter lead to further inefficiencies. Proper error handling and communication with web crawlers are important. This will maintain good SEO health.

Hence, it can be rightly said that soft 404 errors is not just a minor issue. It can in fact impact the SEO performance of a website to a great extent. It is important to ensure that the servers return the correct HTTP status codes. Website owners can improve the efficiency and visibility of a site by implementing the suggestions of Gary Illyes.


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