404-Like Content In Google Webmaster Tools: Soft 404s

Jun 7, 2010 • 1:20 pm | comments (13) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google is now showing soft-404 pages in the page not found error report in Google Webmaster Tools. Google just confirmed this on the Google Webmaster Central blog, and it was first noted in a WebmasterWorld thread early this morning.

I personally tried to verify this, but did not see them in my reports. But Google did post a screen shot:

google soft 404s

A soft 404 is a page not found page that returns a 200 status code, instead of a 404 status code. Often, webmasters create custom 404 pages, but neglect to show a 404 header status code. This can cause issues for search engines and users.

So this report is to help webmasters discover this error and fix it.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Bob Gladstein

06/07/2010 06:05 pm

I tend to see this sort of error management on IIS servers. In fact, it's one of the reasons I give people for recommending that they not host on IIS. I've also seen IIS issue a 302-redirect to a 404 page, which then issues a 200. But it's good to see that Google can figure out the 404-like message they're receiving from servers that aren't set up to issue a proper 404 response.

Sangeeta Mittal

06/07/2010 07:30 pm

Hi, I always looks for such changes update, and seroundtable is one of the best places for it. Thanks for sharing this news..

Sangeeta Mittal

06/07/2010 07:33 pm

Its worth noting!! Thanks for the same...

Nigel Burke

06/08/2010 04:32 am

I noticed this in my Webmaster tools yesterday and wondering what it was. Thanks for explaining it.

Tom Nolan

06/08/2010 08:04 am

Thanks seroundtable for this! I'm still new to webmaster tools so any heads up are welcome...keep up the good work!


06/08/2010 06:22 pm

I just found 7 of these is my webmaster tools for my blog. The blog is WordPress and all of the soft 404s are on non-existing trackbacks. Also, dropped 1 PR on June 4th when Google updated the public numbers. Since Google dislikes soft 404s I am wondering if that is the reason behind my PR drop.


09/30/2010 11:17 am

Thanks for the great info... I got the soft 404 error on some of my web pages. This information really helped me to understand what the 404 error message means.

No Name

11/02/2010 12:12 am

It's happen to me. But the fact is I don't use IIS server but Apache. Several page were indicated 404-like in webmastertools.

Robb Leece

12/22/2010 05:47 am

I think I'm getting this error because of a slow server reponse.

Alex Murphy

03/17/2011 07:30 pm

Looks to me like this is related to having a duplicate page. We have a contact form where there are url parameters passed to the contact page making it look like distinct pages to the googlebot, but the content of the actual page is the exact same.

Toan Duong

04/11/2011 01:08 am

I have a site that redirected these soft 404 pages to an existing page, but they still shows as soft 404 errors. How can i fix this?


08/23/2011 06:51 am

my site has the same problem, so what can I do?


01/11/2012 07:47 am

my site has the same problem, so what can I do?

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