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Soft 404 Errors

Posted on 2014-01-29
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Last Modified: 2014-02-03
Looking for an answer on this question because even our development team can't help us out on 700+ soft errors on our ecommerce site. Im not too sure what the code is like but I know the site is built in PHP. I have attached the error report out of Google Webmaster Tools and I also did a screencast of what is happening online at Google when you search our site.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/vru89ysye1vw7u1/Search.avi


you can also visit the site to do some headhunting....

http://www.thetoolstore.ca
www-thetoolstore-ca-20140129T183.csv
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Question by:fadercreep
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by:Gary
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Soft means a 404 error was returned but you redirected the page
The only way to debug is go through the pages and see if they really are a 404, maybe you have some bad links - there is not much we can tell you on how to fix it because we do not know your sites code.
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by:Ray Paseur
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This appears to be an ASP site, not a PHP site (based on the file extensions).  I'll add the other Zones.
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by:Gary
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Your site is very unresponsive, waiting a minute for it to respond just for the homepage.
You should move the GA code to just before your closing body tag as a priority. Also move the javascript files to the same place.  These all block loading of your site.
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by:Ray Paseur
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Gary: It came up instantly for me.  Maybe it is on a shared server and you hit the moment of overload?
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by:Gary
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Subsequent loads were faster, still quite slow to load (5+secs).
But if this is happening when Google is crawling and hitting several pages the bot would give up.
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by:fadercreep
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The site loads very fast, how ever I will take your comments on moving the Google code and java script and make those changes. What I am really after here though is why so many soft errors. I have read a lot on what a 404 is, but have no real idea on why they are occurring on this site and what to do about them.

(The dev team is also working on the site from time to time, so this may have been the case when you visited.)


Load time
    2.83s

speedtest.jpg
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by:Ray Paseur
Ray Paseur earned 250 total points
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The "404" error is Resource Not Found.  A Resource can be almost any kind of file.  One way this can happen is if a site has a favicon tag, but does not have a favicon file.  Another way is "link rot" where an external site has an embedded URL that points to a page in your site that has been moved or renamed.

Have you tried sorting the CSV file by date?  It would be interesting to see if there is a recent pattern.
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Gary earned 250 total points
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The site loads very fast - that's subjective..., anything over 1 second for the type of page you have there is slow.

If Googlebot is getting a 200 response header for your pages but then the page is failing to load that is a soft 404, your server says the page exists but Googlebot gave up waiting.

The dev team should be working on their own copy, not on a live site.

I would start by clearing all your errors, some of them are going back years, and monitor it over the next week or so to see if you can identify if there are problem pages.
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Author Closing Comment

by:fadercreep
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I will mark this as closed, make the changes to moving some of the code in the header but ultimately. Soft errors are very hard to clear up.
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by:fadercreep
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You can also read more on where to place Google Analytics Code



The less quick part of that answer is that it WAS bad to put the traditional Google Tracking Code in the head of your webpage in the past, so if you read some book or blog purporting to speed up your website extolling the virtues of putting the Google code at the bottom of the page, then they may have been correct once, but they aren’t anymore. The speed of the internet, and all that jazz.

where-put-google-tracking-code
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by:Gary
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I haven't read up on it, yet, but is that also true for your conversion tracking?
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