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Google Won't Index My Site (Soft 404)

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Google Seach Console informed me that I have a Soft 404 and it has stopped indexing my website.

As a graphic artist, I'm a fish out of water with this sort of thing. It looks like it's my homepage setting off, potentially triggered by a mobile robot? Because this is a big source of discovery and how I make a living, ANY help to better understand what's going on would be GREATLY appreciated. 

I have a few custom coded elements on this page and I read that background videos could be a trigger here too...

I screenshotted a bunch of the learnings from GSC to hopefully help provide context.

 

Thank you so much!

Jordan

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Posted (edited)

Hi - @smilebeard
I'm happy to help you. Based on my analysis it seems the issue you are facing with a Soft 404 error in Google Search Console is likely due to one of the following reasons:

  • Your homepage is returning a 200 OK status code, but the content on the page is not substantial enough or is misleading Google to think the page does not exist. This can happen if you have custom coded elements or a background video that is not properly implemented.
  • You may have pages on your website, such as empty search result pages, product category pages, or blog category pages, that have little to no content. Google may be interpreting these as soft 404 pages since they expect these types of pages to return a 404 Not Found status code.
  • There could be issues with how your server is handling missing pages, where it is returning a 200 OK status code instead of a proper 404 Not Found. This can confuse Google and cause it to label the page as a soft 404.

To resolve this issue, I would recommend the following steps:

Review the content and structure of your homepage to ensure it has sufficient, unique and relevant content.

  1. Check your custom coded elements and background video implementation to make sure they are not causing issues with how the page is rendered for Google's crawlers.
    1. Your home page haven’t h1 tag. Make sure you place your keyword on h1 your home page.
      1. Check out this video: How to Optimize H1s for SEO on Squarespace.
        image.thumb.png.b7b10b09a213c1f5918dd0fb8ffdbafd.png
    1. Ensure your meta description is 150-160 characters long and include the main keyword you want to rank for.
      1. Check out this video: How to Edit and Optimize Meta Description
    2. Ensure your SEO titles are 50-60 characters long - this is optimal for displaying on search engines.
      1. Check out this video: How to Edit and Optimize SEO Titles in Squarespace
  2. Examine any other pages on your site that may have little to no content, such as search result pages or category pages, and either add more content to them or return a proper 404 Not Found status code for those pages.
  3. Ensure your server is configured to return the correct 404 Not Found status code for missing pages, rather than a 200 OK. This will help Google properly identify and handle those pages.

By addressing these potential issues, you should be able to resolve the Soft 404 error in Google Search Console and have your website properly indexed again. If you've any further question, feel free to ask.

Thanks,
Sadul Sifat

 

Edited by Sifat_SEOSpace

SEOSpace Team

SEOSpace - The SEO Plugin for Squarespace.

Get a Free Squarespace SEO Audit: https://www.seospace.co.uk/squarespace-seo-audit-score

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@Sifat_SEOSpace Wow, thank you for taking the time to break this down for me. I am thinking that it is the custom code that may be affecting Google crawlers but, as someone who doesn't really know anything about coding, I wouldn't really know what to look for here.

 

Is there any chance you have an idea what that could be? I could screengrab the codes I've added.

 

Thanks so much,

Jordan

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Hi @smilebeard Regarding the soft 404, before jumping through too many hoops, check to see if the video is uploaded to Squarespace. If so, try another approach. See this other post for more details, note we've also seen it happen with video blocks not just background videos: 

 

Have SEO questions? Chances are we've written about it! Try a quick Google search to find our advice. Or for personalized support, see our consulting and training sessions.  Official Squarespace Experts since 2014 

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Hey @Collaborada Thanks for jumping in!

When you say "check to see if the video is uploaded to Squarespace" what do you mean exactly? It's a background video to that section so I assume it's uploaded to squarespace right? OR do i need to upload it a specific way (like in the website tools / code injection spot)?

I also have gifs playing in each of the image blocks when you hover over them...

 

Thanks so much!

Jordan

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Hi @smilebeard This Squarespace page explains hosting video on Squarespace vs embedding from YouTube or other platform: https://support.squarespace.com/hc/en-us/articles/206542397-Adding-videos-to-your-site

When we've seen it happen, a YouTube link fixed it. Alternatively backgrounds can also be images. Good luck! 

Have SEO questions? Chances are we've written about it! Try a quick Google search to find our advice. Or for personalized support, see our consulting and training sessions.  Official Squarespace Experts since 2014 

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