Pages That Look Like Error Pages Can Be Considered Soft 404s By Google

Several months ago Google told us that returning a “results not found” type of page can result in Google Search considering that page a soft 404 and thus removing it from the search results. The same is true for “Sorry we don’t deliver to this location” or other negative and error looking pages.

Here is a new case of where Google has dropped out pages from its index that had the text “Sorry we don’t deliver to this location” on those pages. A tweet from Nikhil Raj. R showed how the site’s soft 404 page count spiked, while the traffic and impressions in Google search dropped significantly.

Here are closer looks at those screenshots via Twitter:

Soft 404s increasing:

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Traffic decreasing:

click for full size

John Mueller of Google confirmed it on Twitter saying “Yeah, if you make your pages look like they might be error pages, we might treat them as such. It’s similar to having a noindex on them, and using JavaScript to selectively remove it. Good job finding this!”

So this is just another reminder to be careful with these types of pages, you don’t necessarily want them all to not be in the Google index.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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