What is Soft 404?

Html pages lacking relevant information or empty.

Soft 404

A soft 404 error is not an official response sent to the web browser but merely a label Google applies to a page in its index.

Google as you may know, devotes Crawling Budget to each site it scans and to safeguard it decreases crawl frequency on empty pages, pages with duplicate content or low value.

In other cases, some servers are misconfigured and return a 200 code even for missing pages instead of a correct 404.

To address this problem, Google analyzes the characteristics of pages and in some returns the soft value 404.

Pages that have Soft 404 can be generated by the web server, your website’s content management system, or the user’s browser.

The following are some examples:

  • Lack of a server-side inclusion file.
  • Disruption of database connection.
  • Internal page of empty search results.
  • JavaScript file not loaded or missing.

In addition to the interpretation of the Search Engine that will not consider them for indexing because they are of low value, this scenario will worsen the experience of the pages for the end user who will not find what they were looking for finding themselves in a condition of uncertainty. This condition will lead to worse ranking resulting in organic loss in Serp if the error is widespread on the website.

The most critical case involves situations where Soft 404 pages have been tagged for you with valuable content. In this scenario, the advice is to check page rendering and check that Googlebot can actually see the content and there are no problems reaching all the elements that make up the page. With Screaming Frog it will be enough to configure from “Crawl Config” the rendering to Javascript and check the differences with raw Html. In addition to this I recommend that you change the User Agent to “Googlebot.” I recommend you take a look at this guide devoted toanalyzing sites in javascript.

You can find the list of Soft 404 errors by analyzing Google Search Console reports or by using Screaming Frog.

Finding Soft 404 with Seo Spider

To analyze the Soft 404 error, all you need to do is scan with the Screaming Frog and view the URLs with this problem in the ‘Content’ tab using the‘Soft 404 Pages‘ filter.

Once identified you can simply export them using the “Export” button.

To view the URLs that are linked to Soft 404 Pages you can use the tab at the bottom of the “InLinks” console and bulk export them via “Bulk Export” > Content > “Soft 404.”

For even more granular analysis Screaming Frog allows you to customize which “content” triggers a “warning” of the presence of potential “soft 404s” such as “page not found” or “no results found.”

The Seo Spider already has a list of the most frequent phrases that can be found; to configure this function, you will only need to follow the following path:

“Configuration > Spider > Preferences.”

Seo Spider Tab