| 7:13 pm on Jun 1, 2012 (gmt 0)|
If a page can't be found, it's a 404. Nothing to do with google.
Mass-redirecting to your home page is rarely a good idea, regardless of what animal Google is attacking you with.
:: memo to self: bring camera to library ... again ::
| 7:36 pm on Jun 1, 2012 (gmt 0)|
The 301 or 404 status is sent by your server.
Google won't see that response until the next time they request that URL, and that could be weeks or months in the future.
| 11:59 pm on Jun 1, 2012 (gmt 0)|
Google treats 301 redirects to the home page as if they were 404 errors anyway. Google calls them "soft 404s" and they appear in webmaster tools as such.
| 6:38 am on Jun 4, 2012 (gmt 0)|
So what should I do?
I had some pages that ranked very well but were penalized by Penguin, should I:
A. Go back to .htaccess and cancel the redirects 301 to my index page
B. Leave it as is build, don't remove redirect and build new pages
C. Cancel the redirect 301, rebuild the page with better content and create new quality backlinks to it
Any advice much appreciatedd! ;)
| 7:05 am on Jun 4, 2012 (gmt 0)|
Immediately - A.
In the long term - C.
| 7:11 am on Jun 4, 2012 (gmt 0)|
Please take myb "tough love" response here as something intended to help you, although I appreciate it may sound harsh. You see something about your question does not pass my radar. You are talking about your website's pages - the content of your online business - in a very casual way. It's not the way a business owner normally looks at their business at all.
You are willing to just delete content because it stops getting traffic. You are treating the issue as something that just needs a technical fix. That sounds to me as though you DID build pages only to rank, rather than to be the content of a business that serves its visitors first and foremost.
In short, that sounds to me like what Google calls webspam, exactly what Penguin is targeting.
A 301 redirect should point to content that essentially covers what the original URL covered - really a new location for that subject matter. Other than that, delete the URL and serve a true 404 response. You can serve a custom 404 that offers a way to explore the website in addition to a notice that the original URL is no longer available, and that exploration help could even be a copy of your home page.
But I don't think that's going to fix your Penguin troubles. I suspect you need to re-think this particular web business from the ground up.
| 3:30 pm on Jun 4, 2012 (gmt 0)|
Put this in the context of what @tedster just said...
I recently deleted a lot of pages, not because of SEO, but because I my site's niche has changed over the years, and some of the content no longer seems relevant. I could tell from my analytics that visitors were going along, enjoying page after page until they hit one of these pages. So I deleted about 250 pages.
Maybe 5 of those pages were similar enough to another page that I redirected the traffic with a 301. The rest, I just 404d.
I went through my Analytics after all this and found something interesting. The pages I deleted were also not doing well with Google, so what I did for visitors will probably help SEO too.