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Effects, Causes & Resolves to HARD 404 VS SOFT 404


WHAT’S A HARD 404 ERROR?


A hard 404 error is a quite common occurrence that you must have encountered while browsing the internet. It is actually a message that informs the user of that particular page browsed couldn’t be opened or accessed. This is agitating to readers as it may seem this could negatively affect the optimization of the page and thereby ranking in the results page as well

Remember: A hard 404 error may not always occur because the page does not exist, it could also be the result of an incorrect web address entered by the user!

Some points to remember:


WHAT’S A SOFT 404 ERROR?


A soft 404 error occurs when someone is trying to access a URL provided by you, and cannot reach the page or gets a message saying “Page does not exist”

Remember: It may sound ‘soft’ but actually this is more serious and difficult compared to the hard 404 error

Some points to remember:


Tip: Google suggests the use of tools like Fetch as Google or similar tools to check whether the pages in your URL are using the correct HTTP response code

MISIDENTIFIED AS SOFT 404


There are instances where the pages are not actually missing, however, something triggers Google to identify it as a missing page. These characteristics include:

a) lack of content
b) having too many similar pages on the site

 What are the Reasons for 404 errors:


LINKING ERRORS


If the 404 error is caused by broken links then the most ideal job will be to fix the links. However, finding all the broken links would be a mammoth and time taking task! Also, it becomes even more difficult for sites that have thousands of pages. In such cases, getting in touch with a professional SEO agency comes in handy. With their expertise and systematic approach, you can have these errors not just rectified but also do what is needed all across the site effecting your overall website health and hygiene for better optimization and ranking

A NON-EXISTING PAGE


When a page no longer exists, there are two ways to solve the problem:


USING GOOGLE ANALYTICS TO TRACK ORPHANED PAGES


You can track missing pages using Google Analytics. Usually it does not show missing pages by default. Also, you can:


DO A CHECK!


Searching for a particular site on Google. This will help list all pages of that particular site indexed by Google. You could then take a help of an expert SEO agency in Kolkata, who would assist you by checking individually whether the pages are loading or if they are showing the 404 errors

Also, since all the search engines will give you a subset, running it on other search engines will give you a larger list. Furthermore, this list can be checked all together when exported and run on some advance SEO tools

For backlinks there are tools available that export a list of backlinks that link to your domain, that will give you a list of pages that show 404 errors. But you should also use the manual method to reconfirm if something skipped. Though time taking but, definitely worth investing

FIXING SOFT 404 ERRORS


Usually the crawling tools do not detect a soft 404 error because it does not show as an error in the first place. However, the crawling tools can be used for something else that might, in turn, help in identifying the soft 404 errors


Apart from using crawling tools, you could also take the help of a professional SEO firm to find out the list of pages that show 404s and help you interpret the data for correcting the cases. Once these errors are detected, the next step would be to resolve them. Sometimes the solution may be simple and easy to implement. Like stretching the content and increasing the number of words or making content genuine and original. Apart from these that require common sense to resolve there are many other things that could be considered


WHAT GOOGLE UNDERSTANDS OF THE 404 ERRORS?


According to Google, a soft 404 error is actually not a real 404 error at all, however, Google will deindex these pages if the error is not resolved at the earliest. To avoid such a situation, it is best to crawl the site regularly to see if the 404s occur. Using crawling tools will, thus, be an important SEO practice that should be put to use from time to time

Though soft 404 errors may look like nothing to worry about, they can have a major effect on the customer experience and the search engine ranking. Identifying and fixing such problems so that the right HTTP code is sent can stop it from becoming a major issue

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