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301 or 404 for outdated but popular post?
raymondcc




msg:4535491
 2:29 pm on Jan 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Having a tech blog website, we tend to have outdated posts that can no longer be updated. One example is when an online service we reviewed is shut down and there's no other alternative.

If that outdated post is thin and can no longer be rewritten but for some reason Google is still sending a lot of visitors, should I delete it (which Matt Cutts suggests in one of his early videos about Panda) or do a permanent redirect to the homepage (to pass the link juice)?

 

Robert Charlton




msg:4535788
 12:56 am on Jan 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

...should I delete it (which Matt Cutts suggests in one of his early videos about Panda) or do a permanent redirect to the homepage (to pass the link juice)?

You definitely should not redirect to the home page, unless the home page would be relevant (and it doesn't sound from your comments that it would be).

Possibly, you could redirect to a relevant category page, but again, if the traffic that has been coming is seeking a discontinued service for which there is no equivalent, then a relevant and satisfactory category page is likely to be hard to find.

IMO, if you're not going to rewrite the page, it's better to have it turn into a 404 (perhaps with a welcoming custom 404 error page) than to have disappointed searchers come to your site and back out.

If your site has a lot of churn like this, though, you should consider ways of rewriting the outdated posts to give visitors choices... ie, additional text description and links to other pages on your site that might apply.

If, eg, this service that you reviewed has been shut down with no alternative, that in itself might be useful information to searchers... particularly if you can find somewhere useful to send them, so searchers aren't simply backing out and searching again.

lucy24




msg:4535808
 3:37 am on Jan 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

Having a tech blog website, we tend to have outdated posts that can no longer be updated. One example is when an online service we reviewed is shut down and there's no other alternative.

You can still update it. Only now the "update" consists of a leading blurb that says something like "This article is about a product or service that is no longer available. We have kept the article for historical interest". And, of course, delete any no-longer-working links within the article. The introductory bit goes in a visual format that makes it clearly distinct from the original content.

The 301, if any, would be to a newly created /archives/ or /history/ directory that contains only this type of material.

I once dealt with the same thing on a micro-scale when I realized that one of my games pages dated from 1998 and showed it. And I don't just mean the html. In fact most of the visits were from people searching for some long-defunct programming language. So why not let them see a page that says unequivocally "such-and-such is no longer being made, and the domain that used to carry their support pages has expired". At least now they know they didn't just imagine that there used to be something called {name}.

TheMadScientist




msg:4535809
 3:37 am on Jan 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

What Robert in his last two paragraphs...
And what lucy24 said in her first statement... We were posting at the same time.

C.) None of the above.

Find a way to 'engage them' in something else, either before or even possibly after letting them read about the service that is no longer available with something like 'although this specific service is no longer available and there's not a direct alternative we've found, you may be able to combine [blah], [site] and [service] to work for you or you can continue looking for something else that fits your specific needs on our page [here] if those don't meet your personal requirements ... If you know of a direct alternative, please feel free to <link>contact us</link> with the info and let us know, thanks!'

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