What are Soft 404 Errors and How to Handle them in WordPress
One of the most common error codes is the 404-error code. Values 400 to 499 indicate page loading problems and the 404-error means that the page is permanently gone and therefore unavailable. Usually, these errors can be fixed easily in just a few steps. Down below, you can find out how to fix these yourself with the help of a free WordPress plugin.
Soft 404 errors can be quite annoying or even confusing, and they will result in turning your traffic away from the site.
What happens is that the server sends a 200 OK status report (success) for the sent request, but in return, Google decides to return a 404 error (failure). This can happen if the page content is perceived as an error and or if the page is lacking content.
You may think that pages with soft 404 errors are pages that aren’t supposed to exist, but still do, and you are correct. Unfortunately, as this may be confusing to you, it is the same for search engines as they can get confused and create soft 404 errors. A soft 404 error is a label added by search engines that helps distinguish these pages. If such errors show up in your Google Search Console, you should address these as soon as possible.
After a 404 page returns a 200 OK status report, the page exists and can pop up in a search engine results page if it was crawled and indexed. This should be avoided at all costs. If a search result gets a soft 404 error label, then it won’t show in the index.
This can happen quite often, even in WordPress, which is pretty reliable. Sometimes, a (blank) page will be automatically generated, and having empty pages in WordPress will result in such soft 404 errors.
On occasion, a temporary issue with crawling can occur, which is when Google crawls the page, then, some of the resources such as CSS and or JS can’t be loaded and result in the page showing no content, making Google perceive and report a 404 error.
For example, if you make a new tag in WordPress and leave it empty, as it is by default, and then view it in developer’s tools, you’ll see that the page returns a 200 status report with a so-called “nothing found message”.
This error is mostly known as a 404 Not Found or a Page Not Found error. When a page isn’t found, it returns an HTTP status code of 404 or 410, meaning it can’t be found.
The HTTP response code reports an established connection to the requested server, but the server can’t find the request. Sites can generate a "404 Not Found" if a user tries to open a non-working link (URL). Even though this can happen to many developers, it is a rookie mistake and should be taken care of immediately.
Soft and hard 404 errors will negatively impact your SEO ranking because search engines don’t like indexing and linking permanently gone or moved content. This is a waste of Google’s resources, which in return will negatively impact your ranking. The errors represent the lack of work and care, making your content quality drop. Furthermore, you don’t want Google to remove your URLs even if they result in 404 errors.
Search engines put in a certain (small) amount of time into crawling your site and when Google is crawling, you want them working on your valid content, not the broken one.
So, what are 301 redirects? These are useful tools for managing your site’s content. You can manage articles, sites, backlinks, etc. If your original URL is down, a redirect will send the request to a working URL, instead of showing (soft) 404 errors due to the content being down or moved permanently. This will boost your user experience, while also ensuring stability. When you redirect a page, it is important to update your backlinks to ensure that the request is sent to the new working URL.
If you want to save yourself a lot of time, 301 Redirects – Easy Redirect Manager is the best plugin for quick and simple redirects.
This highly-rated WordPress plugin is free and super easy to use, thanks to its simple installation process and user-friendly interface. Easy Redirect Manager will help you manage your redirects, which will boost your SEO and site traffic. With this plugin, you can safely redirect your content, such as backlinks, posts, archives, etc. when they expire. This will ensure that users get sent to the working URL, instead of being presented with 404 errors.
By redirecting your content, your users won’t suffer from a bad user experience and it will actually boost your traffic numbers. Also, if needed, your whole site can be redirected with this powerful plugin. In order to maximize SER & SEO, redirects are crucial and often required. Why do all the heavy lifting yourself, when this plugin can save you a lot of time? Since the plugin is highly rated, and the reviews speak for themselves, it proves that this is in fact, a quality product. The plugin is compatible with the latest WordPress and PHP versions.
Over time, a lot of content goes through your site’s database and often, some of the content will get broken or will expire. Let’s say you have some old articles on your site, and in them are some backlinks that lead to other sites or content like images. Eventually, these backlinks will expire as the server may be down, or the content has been moved to another location.
If this happens, it is recommended to redirect your links to preserve your SEO & SER. Upon redirecting, you will keep your content visible to your users and they won’t be presented with 404 errors upon loading a page. This can improve your traffic numbers and most importantly, it will ensure the safety of your site’s content.
Thankfully, this does not require any coding skills, and thanks to its simple user interface, it is easy to navigate through the dashboard.
The first step is to upload the eps-301-redirects folder to the WordPress plugins directory.
Moving on to the second step, you need to activate the plugin from the Plugins menu. After completing the second step, redirects can be added in the Settings of the 301 Redirect menu.
The final step is to set up the requested URL and enter the destination URL. To set up the requested URL, you can choose from the menu, or set your own destination URL for the specified redirect.
Additional features, such as exporting your redirect lists and or tracking the redirects and redirected users are available. To use importing and exporting features, you need to know how to use CSV files.
Just in case something goes wrong, you can always use WP Reset to set back your site to a previous state.
Managing your site or its content is quite simple when you have the help of 301 Redirects – Easy Redirect Manager plugin. If you manage and redirect your content well, you will rank higher, improve your site’s SEO and eliminate all 404 errors. Therefore, optimization is important for your website and redirects should be in the center of many SEO professionals. Cut yourself some slack and let this plugin do the work for you.