Did you know that returning a “results not found” page can lead to a Google search by keeping the page soft 404 and then removing it from the search results? We know that Google has recently changed the way configures soft 404 pages, but this tidbit is not a new change.

In both a Google Webmaster Help wire and a Twitter thread, there are examples of Google’s popularity for displaying soft 404 pages on pages with, for example, messages – no results found or a similar language was used on that page. When you clear this message, the soft 404 response disappears.

John Mueller said Twitter that those answers “can certainly throw us away.” John added, “This is less obvious here, but a similar case we’ve seen is when a page is offered a noindex, and client-side JavaScript removes it.”

Here is a tweet that shows a soft 404 peak:

John is then asked if this could be:

And then by making a change on the site to reduce soft 404 disks and improve indexing:

This is a similar story Google Webmaster Help.

Anyway, just keep this in mind and it makes sense, of course. But detecting this can be difficult for a webmaster.

Forum discussion Google Webmaster Help and Twitter.


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