Like any wingman worth his salt, Google wants your SEO buttoned up. As Google crawls your site, it looks for 404 errors and lets you know when it finds something fishy. Sometimes, a page’s content looks like an error message, but there’s really no error. When the content doesn’t match up with the HTTP response, the infamous soft 404 swoops in.
The fine crew here at Red Clay Interactive sees these soft 404 errors in Modern Tribe’s “The Events Calendar” plugin for WordPress. Webmaster Tools will push a soft 404 at you for dates that do not have any events scheduled. The content on the page shows “0 events listed for April 27, 2017. Please try another day.” Is this an error? Nope. Does the content make the page look like an error? Yep. Google is giving you a heads up — strange things are afoot.
By instinct, you prepare for the apocalypse at the mere mention of a 404 error. Fear not — you can let out a sigh of relief. There’s no real SEO penalty to these errors. The trouble lies in your crawl coverage. Google will only crawl a certain amount of unique pages on your site at once. Eating up that “crawl budget” with soft 404 pages slows down the rate at which your site is indexed.
The long and the short of it is that soft 404’s are not the end of the world. They don’t hurt your SEO like a real 404 error will. It’s in your best interest to make sure the content on your site’s pages matches up with the URL’s, but sometimes that is unavoidable. At the end of the day, Google has your back and gives you a heads up so you can keep being awesome.
We won’t leave you out to dry —Here’s some articles to put your mind at ease.