Google Explains Why Soft 404s Are Bad

Jul 1, 2024 - 7:41 am 3 by

Soft Google Logo

Gary Illyes from Google explained two reasons why soft 404 errors are bad. Soft 404s are when a page returns a 200 status okay, but Google thinks that page should return a 404 page not found error. According to Gary, soft 404s are bad because they (1) limit crawl budget and (2) the pages won't likely show up in Google Search.

Gary wrote on LinkedIn wrote, "Crawlers have lots of resources, they can afford to waste some, your site likely doesn't. Soft errors are bad because:"

  • The limited "crawl budget" spent on them could've been spent on real pages.
  • The pages will unlikely to show up in search because during indexing they're filtered out, basically no ROI on the resources you've spent on serving them.

Gary called soft 404s and other soft/crypto errors ("Crypto here means "hidden", not what the bros are trying to convince you to invest in," Gary explained.), "the banes of my existence and all other robots'."

He wrote:

You go to your favorite coffee shop after consulting their online menu and you order your favorite corn spice latte with yak milk. They're all out even though the menu claimed they had it. You order a half espresso. They're all out. Fine, you order a matcha latte with water chestnut milk. They're all out. Frustrating. Is this a coffee shop or Wendy's?!

While for users it might not matter much that your error page came back with a HTTP 200 (OK) status code, crawlers use the status codes to interpret whether a fetch was successful, even if the contents of the page is basically just an error message. They might happily go back to the same page again and again wasting your resources, and if there are many such pages, exponentially more resources. All while they could spend the time and resources on fetching real pages, with actual helpful content.

Forum discussion at LinkedIn.


Popular Categories

The Pulse of the search community


Search Video Recaps

Google Volatility, Indexing Bugs, Google Ads Broad Match Default & YouTube SEO Tips - YouTube
Video Details More Videos Subscribe to Videos

Most Recent Articles

Search Forum Recap

Daily Search Forum Recap: July 12, 2024

Jul 12, 2024 - 10:00 am
Search Video Recaps

Search News Buzz Video Recap: Google Volatility, Indexing Bugs, Google Ads Broad Match Default & YouTube SEO Tips

Jul 12, 2024 - 8:01 am
Google Maps

Remove Thumbtack Book Links In Google Business Profiles

Jul 12, 2024 - 7:51 am
Google Search Engine Optimization

New: Google Search Console Let's You Add Your Shipping & Return Information

Jul 12, 2024 - 7:41 am

Google Search Tests Autoplaying Video Thumbnails In Results?

Jul 12, 2024 - 7:31 am
Bing Search

Bing Search Tests Voting On Search Results

Jul 12, 2024 - 7:21 am
Previous Story: Google Posts Reviews Troubleshooting & FAQs For Missing and Remove Reviews