One SEO professional was concerned about backlinks to their sub-category pages causing 404 errors or soft 404s. On these types of pages, content comes and goes.
What happens is there’s usually a bunch of 404s from these backlinks due to this issue.
Their question was: are they seeing a lot of 404s from said backlinks because they are linking to sub-categories that no longer exist?
Also, they asked if it was okay to redirect these links to the parent category.
And, if so, is it okay to use a temporary redirect?
John explained that if Google sees it happening on a larger scale where you’re redirecting to the parent level, then they would see it as a soft 404. And they would see that soft 404 as a 404.
If it ends up being a canonicalization question, then it would come down to the specific URL they would actually show in the search results.
It comes down to the question: why would Google crawl the page anymore if there is little added value because of no content being there?
John also said, in these cases, in addition to canonicals, make sure that the sitemap along with internal linking are all very clear.
This discussion happens at approximately the 13:11 mark in the video.