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  • Writer's pictureBrent Payne

Contains possible soft 404 phrases

The URL provided has returned an HTTP 200 status, however, the content present suggests it might be an error page (soft 404).

Why is this important?

A soft 404 occurs when a page displays an error message such as 'Page not found' to the user but actually sends a 200 HTTP status code. Although it seems like a 404, it doesn't officially signal an error to search engines or monitoring tools.

These pages can occur due to several backend or frontend issues, including:

  • An absent include file on the server.

  • A disrupted link to the database.

  • A search result page without content.

  • A JavaScript file that failed to load.

This discrepancy can severely degrade user experience and complicate error monitoring.

What does the Optimization check?

The Optimization scans for any URL that includes specific phrases in its content which suggest a 404 error, despite receiving a 200 HTTP response.

Examples that trigger this Optimization:

The following is an illustration of a URL that would activate this Optimization due to containing a potential 404 phrase:

<!doctype html><html lang="en">  <head>      ...  </head>  <body>      ...      <p>Can't locate that page</p>      ...  </body></html>

Why is this Optimization marked 'Potential Issue'?

The Optimization is given a 'Potential Issue' status because it's uncertain whether the URLs are true soft 404s. Some pages may simply mention a known trigger phrase without being an error page, hence why they require closer inspection.

How do you resolve this issue?

Investigate each flagged page to see if they are truly erroneous and should return a 404. Correcting the implementation or updating internal links to point away from these pages may require developer assistance.

In some cases, these might be false alarms. In such situations, verify with tools like Google Search Console to see if Google interprets these as soft 404s, possibly because of scant content or the presence of a phrase.

You can resolve true soft 404s by inspecting them in Google Search Console. Moreover, it's possible to customize the phrases that act as triggers for this Optimization within Sitebulb's settings to reduce false positives.

Further Reading

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