I have a few hundred soft 404 errors reported in Google Search Console. Almost all of them are for CSV files containing data. For example here is the HTTP response for one of them:
HTTP/1.1 200 Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="fewer-bank-failures.csv" Content-Length: 116 Content-Type: text/csv; name="fewer-bank-failures.csv";charset=UTF-8 Date: Thu, 01 Feb 2018 11:32:56 GMT Server: Apache Connection: keep-alive "",Bank Failures 2000,2 2001,4 2002,11 2003,3 2004,4 2005,0 2006,0 2007,3 2008,25 2009,140 2010,157 2011,92 2012,51
Why is Google reporting that this is a soft 404? I've usually seen soft 404 because:
- You have a "200 OK" status but say "not found" in the page
- You redirect to the home page
- The page is blank
I can't figure out why Google would think that this CSV file would indicate a not found error.
I do understand other reasons that Google might not want to index this content:
- It is a download attachment rather then a page
- CSV wouldn't be the best landing page experience
- The content is duplicate -- we have the an HTML page with the same data including a graph.
I would expect Google to choose not to index the page for one of those reasons, but I am completely surprised that they call it a "soft 404".
What can I do to tell Google that the page is real? Would using a
Link: <https://example.com/fewer-bank-failures.html>; rel="canonical" HTTP header help?