Search engines are not fans of change. They’re like grandparents that were raised in the ‘50s. Removing a web page is one such change (like buying that grandparent a new cell phone) but sometimes it’s inevitable. Website content can become outdated or irrelevant, and many low quality pages can exist without you even knowing.
Low quality pages are ones that aren’t visited often, have thin content, or don’t get any real user engagement. Just think of all those search results pages that are generated from unique user queries. All those results pages get indexed. When search engines have indexed all the low quality pages on your website, it is called an index bloat and it can hurt your SEO ranking.
You’ve got three options to improve the situation: restructure, redirect, or remove.
3 Options to remove non-performing pages
If there’s an opportunity to save a page, try to save it. Some pages might have content that you would really like to be seen but don’t get the traffic they deserve. Try promoting the content internally, or tweak your navigation to guide users toward the bad-performing pages that they should be seeing. People like easy, so you could consider consolidating a few low-quality pages into one page that holds most of that information.
A .301 redirect will redirect users and search engines from one URL to a different one of your choosing. Instead of telling users and search engines that the webpage they were after no longer exists, you can redirect them to a similar alternative. The value in a .301 redirect is that the page equity from the original (low quality) page is passed onto the new page, so your ranking doesn’t take a hit.
3.1 Remove .410
A .410 will permanently remove the page and tell the search engine that it no longer exists, subsequently, the search engine will remove the page from its index. You’ll want to ensure there aren’t internal links to the page before using a .410. Search engines love good manners, so if you have to change your website, by telling them that a page is gone they can move on instead of crawling for it and punishing you in the end.
3.2 Remove – 404
A .404 should not be your first option, as it pops up and tells the user that the page no longer exists. This can lead to a less-than-pleasant user experience and lost conversions. The .404 is likely to occur from time to time due to broken links, so try customising your .404 page so save the bad experience. Add a link to your homepage, or a search bar to conveniently continue the query, provide links to alternative pages, or use humour to appeal directly to the user.
Wanting to know more about SEO and how to reach that number one search ranking spot? Let’s get you there with the SEO & Web Analytics Course from DSM. The right Marketing Course is waiting for you right here!
You might also like
- Will Older And Outdated Articles Hurt My SEO? Read more.
- Will blogging help SEO?
- Why You Should Be Using Search Console In Digital Marketing
- Why you should understand your analytics
- Why You Should Power Up Your SEO With Audience Understanding
- Why you should not choose broad match keyword targeting on Google Ads