One SEO professional asked John Mueller about soft 404 errors in Google Search Console and where they may be coming from.
They explained that in their GSC backend, there are some sudden increasing soft 404s in the errors section of the coverage report.
They took some sample URLs to test in the mobile friendly test tool. And the page is returning as mobile-friendly. However, the version of the title and description in the tool appears to be one from a long, long time ago.
They couldn’t use the live URL inspection in GSC, so they use the extension to monitor the user agent of Google in order to check the source code of the sample pages.
All looks good to them. Even the title is new, and so is the description. In this case, they could not find the reason for these increasing soft 404s.
They were wondering if John Mueller had any advice to solve the problem.
John explained that sometimes, the soft 404s are things like products that are out of stock or not available anymore. And these types of things can also be picked up as soft 404s.
It’s also possible that the page is empty or that there’s some other error that’s in the DOM (Document Object Model) of the page.
All of these types of errors could be seen as a sign of soft 404 errors.
If you’re seeing a rise in the number of soft 404 errors, John’s guess is that something in the classifiers (within GSC) for the soft 404 errors were slightly updated. And Google is picking up slightly different patterns on the website.
Sometimes using the inspection tools can help you to figure out what may be happening there.
This happens at approximately the 18:09 mark in the video.