Google and 'Soft 404' notices when using Redirect

  • I've been using SPQR's excellent Redirect extension for a long time, and it's always performed without issue. Google search on the other hand, doesn't seem happy with the way it's working. As a longtime user of Google's Search Console, I've just started getting Coverage notices after a recent site change. Essntially it is showing coverage errors with the following explanation... "Submitted URL seems to be a Soft 404".

    A summary of my changes, then more detrails...

    I've been using Bixies Portfolio extension as a presentation of for-sale items, where the individual listings give a summary description, photo gallery, links to the 'Buy Now' pages, etcetera. Since the extension doesn't offer any true pagination, it can be a really brutal resource hog for browsers when there's lots of listings on a single page when it contains both the available items, and the sold items I'd wanted to leave up for various reasons.

    I recently set up Driven's Listings extension to use as a 'Sold Items' archive, which just presents the sold-for price, a single 'hero' photo, and a brief summary of the item's description. The idea was to keep the Portofolio item listings trimmed down to only what's currently available for sale, and make it more responsive with far fewer items. Once an item is sold, I create a new Listings entry and disable the portfolio page for that same item, to remove it from view. It's still there, but not publicly available anymore as it's own page.

    Google's Search Console view...

    Getting the offending URL detailed in Search Console, and opening that page in Firefox Dev Edition - with dev tools open to 'Network - I can clearly see that Redirect is doing what it's supposed to do, with the very first webcall coming back as "301" (that's what it's set for in Redirect's config), and it does in fact redirect it to the preset 'Not Found' page without hesitation. To me, it looks like everything is working, so I have no idea why Google can't come to the same conclusion that there's a standard redirection from one resource to another, and pages do change.

    I'm at a loss on what I can do to satisfy Google's bot that there is no longer a valid page that can be used for current or future indexing if it refuses to see the 301 response code. The not-found page it gets redirected to has links to the home page, the newly active "Sold Items' page, and obviously all the regular menu and widget items - and it seems pointless to try to do any other redirections to show whatever details there now are on one single Listings archive page, rather than the old individual listing page from Portfolio.

    For reference:

    One of the pages that Google references as a coverage issue (this will get redirected to, /not-found) :…eiss-jena-tessar-50mm-f35

    The 'For Sale' Portfolio page, and the "Sold Items" page are referenced on the site menu and on not-found.

    Anyone have any ideas or insights on what solutions I could try?