Here is my issue. I have a rewrite rule in my htaccess like this:
RewriteRule ^(news|review|feature|editorial|podcast)/([0-9]+)/(.*)$ /article.php?id=$2 [L]
Basically what it does is take in a URL like this:
And bring the user to this page:
However, within the last year or so Google seemed to decide it doesn't like this anymore, and will return soft 404 errors when it crawls any of those original URLs. ("The target URL doesn't exist, but your server is not returning a 404 (file not found) error.")
Whether because of this or something else, a lot of my content is no longer indexed on Google, which led to a massive drop in hits for my site.
While reading up on this, I read something that said 301 redirects would solve this. So I switched the line to this in htaccess:
RewriteRule ^(news|review|feature|editorial|podcast)/([0-9]+)/(.*)$ /article.php?id=$2 [L,R=301]
Should that solve the issue, or is there more that I have to do?! I'm a little worried because when I do "fetch as Google" it just says "redirected".
I guess my other question would be, would this explain why this stuff isn't being indexed anymore, or is there probably some other issue I should be looking into?