soft 404 is a term
They both exist as terms and have understandable and recognised explanations on what they mean.
If "they" say the zero delay meta refresh is treated the same as a 301 redirect, can't Google say a 200 return code is like a 404 if the content implies so?
A meta refresh is functionally a Redirect, not simply one in name only. The only question then becomes which of the 300 series codes best describes it.
On the other hand, a response code in the 100, 200, 300 or 500 series is not functionally a Client Error, which is what a 404 is.
Isn't a meta refresh a reload or location change not a redirect? It's part of html and not an http header status so in a completely different protocol. In many ways it is not functionally the same as a 301 redirect. The only important thing is how Google decides to deal with it. I've still not been provided any evidence that Google treats it in the same way as a 301 redirect. Not that I don't think it's treated in that way, but so far it's all based on hearsay AFAIK.
A meta refresh is not "like" a redirect, it is a redirect, but one several possible client side redirects.
As for how it's treated by Google and other SEs, it is only a fast meta refresh that is treated as a 301.
<meta http-equiv=refresh content="0; url=http://example.com/newurl" />
See Google and Yahoo accept undelayed meta refreshs as 301 redirects. Note that the statement re. Google's treatment of the fast meta refresh came from Google's own Adam Lasnik.
You have a comment from a Googler that "metarefresh with 0" for a soft 301, while Google's own public documentation explains a soft 404.
Let's try this again.
Redirects can be effected by many different means, both server side and client side. Regardless of the mechanism used, all perform the same function.
With respect to a fast meta refresh, Google does not "call it" a 301; rather, it simply treats it as being a permanent redirect rather than a temporary one.
As for the so-called "soft 404," an HTTP 200 does not serve the same function as does a 404.
That's the difference between a fast meta refresh and Google's "soft 404."An HTTP 200 whose content looks like a 404 page does serve the same function as a 404, with respect to how Google does things
The former has the same functional meaning for everyone; the latter, for Google only.
That's why I say that their calling it a 404 doesn't make it one. It's just Googlespeak.
To be precise, while there is Google's "soft 404," there is no such thing as a "soft" 404. Note the location of the double-quotes.
Last edited by deepsand; 01-27-2012 at 03:57 AM.