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Some 301 Redirects Now Just Soft 404's


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#1 jonbey

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 01:55 PM

OK, ran a Linkresearchtools report for pages which are 404 now but have links (link juice recovery tool).

 

When you hit the "create htaccess code" button it warns

 

"Attention: As of May 2013 Google will count those redirects as Soft-404."

 

Because I built my site in rather an unplanned and haphazard way I have done a lot of redirects over the years (I am now happy with site structure though, phew!).

 

Is there anything I can do to recover lost "link juice"?

 

Or did I misinterpret this warning?



#2 Black_Knight

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 02:06 PM

There's several sides to this that deserve a mention.  The first is to understand what a 301 redirect means in the first place.

 

301 - Permanently Moved.  Update your links/index to use the new URL instead as the old one you used is no longer valid and never again will be.

 

It means that anyone linking to the old URL is supposed to update and use the new one.  It is therefore perfectly valid thinking to assume any link that doesn't update appropriately is a 'dead' page, abandoned, not maintained, and thus not worthy of counting as a currently relevant link.  Google used to believe, despite what the protocol always said, that old links were still worth counting.  Now they don't.

 

I still see a much wider problem, even today, of sites built where they serve a 302 redirect to a 404 page ...

 

302 - Temporarily Moved.  Please do not change the address for your links/bookmarks/index as this move is only temporary and this URL will become valid again.  The URL you used, that redirected, is the preferred and proper one, and this redirect is just a temporary thing to ignore.

 

This one means that the link used, despite the redirect currently there, is the right and proper and preferred URL.  Keep it in the index, and don't bother adding the page we redirected you to, as its just a temporary re-route.

 

Sites that serve 302 redirects to an error page are the easiest soft-target for negative SEO.  Just build links to hundreds of nonsense URLs that should go to a 404 on their site, and their unthinking 302 response says they are all valid, but then serve identical duplicate content (the 404 page without the actual 404 header response it is named for).  Can bowl a site out of the SERPs in a week.



#3 iamlost

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 06:20 PM

Plus check that your 404s are returning a 404 http(s) header and not a 200.



#4 jonbey

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 04:18 AM

My 404s do have the correct header. 

 

So, the 301 redirect becoming a soft 404 simply is not true? I am confused.



#5 Black_Knight

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 07:06 AM

No, it means the bit about 301s applies.

 

301 always meant "We changed that URL buddy, its no longer valid, update your links". 

 

Google used to believe that even stale, unmaintained, links going to wrong old addresses should still get a vote.  Now they don't.  The link is as wrong as a 404 - its only a 301 because your server has been taught to catch that particular error and redirect it.

 

If the 301s are coming from your own site links, this was never, ever, good practice.  If this is old links from elsewhere noone is updating, Google don't want to count them.



#6 jonbey

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 04:28 PM

Blimey.

 

So if a website totally changed its structure today, all links would be lost?

 

That is crazy isn't it? 

 

So I need to contact all those who linked to the old URLs and request that they change to the new? That might then help me recover?


Edited by jonbey, 28 July 2013 - 04:28 PM.


#7 Black_Knight

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 06:21 PM

Its pretty rare that a website needs to completely change its structure, and even if it did add some terribad CMS that added a new folder right after the domain, all links to the root domain - the homepage, should still be valid.  (Though I've seen some awful CMS's that broke even that).  If not, well, those suckers deserve to lose some rankings for a while until they are sorted and earn new links. ;)

 

But I don't believe that Google ever sorted PageRank calculations to the extent of being instant or even near-instant.  I believe Google calculate PageRank in segments and have an advanced 'gesstimation' system that is more flexible.  A change in links can take weeks or even months to completely ripple through.

 

Yes, you need to contact who you can to inform them that URLs (and thus their links) have changed. 

 

All ties in with the big trend of the 'now' culture, where what is hot, cool, or a big noise right now matters, and the track-record of decades can be completely outweighed in people's minds by the flavour of the month, or one small error.


Edited by Black_Knight, 28 July 2013 - 06:24 PM.


#8 jonbey

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 03:43 AM

My oldest pages have gone through a journey along these lines:

 

static html files in root.

same files in an articles directory

basic php template system with change in URL

replacing articles directory with Blogger FTP

adding alternative Blogger FTP directories for new section (similar to the current WP categories).

Replacing all Blogger FTP directories with Wordpress installations when Google closed Blogger FTP.

Merging all Wordpress directories into one root installation. Which is where I am today.

 

I was never a web developer, just a hobbyist writing in the easiest way for me at the time! 

 

Just need new links ..... Hmmmm. Gi' us a link mate.





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