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Does a high percentage of "noindex" pages hurt your rankings?
londrum




msg:4603837
 2:49 pm on Aug 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

I've got a site with an events section on it, and two months after the event passes i put a "noindex" on it so it drops out of google's index.
i also allow people to search by date, and i always "noindex" those date pages once they pass too.

i always thought this was the best way of doing it, because having a load of old events in the index is pretty pointless. but my site has been going for a number of years now, and the number of "noindex" pages is huge.

the alternative is to just delete these pages altogether, but i dont really want to do that in case i lose a load of backlinks.

do you think that google takes into account the percentage of a site that is "no indexed", when it tries to rank it? because you're basically telling google that you don't want people to see these things. if the majority of your site is out of bounds, then maybe they'll take a dim view of it

there is one other alternative, of course... and that is to just allow google to index the whole lot, even though they are old. it might even bring in a bit of extra traffic.

 

Planet13




msg:4603848
 3:35 pm on Aug 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

there is one other alternative, of course... and that is to just allow google to index the whole lot, even though they are old. it might even bring in a bit of extra traffic.


Yes, but if a user clicks on the link in the google SERPS to your old page, suddenly realizes it is old, and immediately hits the back button to see results from OTHER sites in the google SERPs, you might have a problem.

realmaverick




msg:4604153
 3:26 pm on Aug 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Some pages are a necessity but not really pages you want index, member profiles for example are often largely empty, thin pages. I noindex these without a second thought.

netmeg




msg:4604160
 4:17 pm on Aug 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

I run event sites (everyone knows what kind by now) and what I do with expired events depends on whether or not they are likely to recur.

I use living URLs from year to year, so after a recurring event expires, it disappears from all active navigation and taxonomy pages of the site, and a notice appears on the event page that the event has expired and we're awaiting the next update. But I do not noindex it. This is also what I do with recurring events where, say, this year's was cancelled.

If it's a one-time event, I just go in every now and then and delete 'em and let them 404.

Any location taxonomy pages are programmed to add a noindex tag (and remove the ads) if there are no active events on them.

So far that's worked out pretty well for me.

Pjman




msg:4604280
 2:58 am on Aug 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have a one year old site that has about 1/2 of the files (PDFs) no indexed. I just started shooting up the ranking about a month ago as people really strarted to talk and link to the site.

I haven't had a problem at all with it. Ranks keep going up.

No index was a real concern for me, but so far so good.

reseller




msg:4604414
 1:51 pm on Aug 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

@netmeg

I run event sites (everyone knows what kind by now) ...


Not sure, but I recall you mentioned once that you run event sites related to Cat Adoption Events. Right?

netmeg




msg:4604442
 3:43 pm on Aug 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Nope.

jimbeetle




msg:4604451
 4:51 pm on Aug 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

I use living URLs from year to year, so after a recurring event expires, it disappears from all active navigation and taxonomy pages of the site, and a notice appears on the event page that the event has expired and we're awaiting the next update. But I do not noindex it. This is also what I do with recurring events where, say, this year's was cancelled.

I do exactly the same thing for an event site. One benefit is that I have 16-year-old internal pages still attracting a handful of links each year.

Sand




msg:4604479
 7:38 pm on Aug 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

I don't think so.

I have a site with tons of 'product' pages with very short shelf lives. To give you an idea, think about eBay or any classifieds site. All those individual things people put up for sale, and then they'll never be there again. On my site I noindex those, and the count is in the millions. I haven't seen any ill effects.

londrum




msg:4604487
 8:02 pm on Aug 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

what about the other way... do you think it would do any harm to "index" them? that is what i'm thinking now. if it won't do any harm, then why not just let google index the whole lot? they probably won't bring in much traffic, but every little helps.

the pages all have proper content on them, they are not thin -- they are just out of date (the date of the event will still be shown on the page).

Planet13




msg:4604526
 10:05 pm on Aug 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

"...the pages all have proper content on them, they are not thin -- they are just out of date (the date of the event will still be shown on the page)."


Would a person be HAPPY to find it in the google SERPs, or would they be bummed?

Is the date of the event in the title so they would know BEFORE CLICKING ON IT that it was for a past / expired event?

For the past events that you do have still in the index, what is the bounce rate like? Are the coming to the page and then leaving? Or are they checking out other pages on your site?

Sand




msg:4604665
 1:14 pm on Aug 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

I don't think so.

I have a site with tons of 'product' pages with very short shelf lives. To give you an idea, think about eBay or any classifieds site. All those individual things people put up for sale, and then they'll never be there again. On my site I noindex those, and the count is in the millions. I haven't seen any ill effects.

Planet13




msg:4604697
 3:59 pm on Aug 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ Sand

On my site I noindex those, and the count is in the millions. I haven't seen any ill effects.


Out of curiosity, why do you prefer to keep them live but noindexed instead of deleting them?

Robert Charlton




msg:4604885
 5:41 am on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Here's a discussion we had in mid-2011, in which an unusual approach was discussed of archiving expired pages indefinitely, returning 410 header responses for those pages, while having the pages remain available to visitors via outside links. Internal navigation and contact information would be removed dynamically from the expired pages....

Lots of indexed content that expires
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4328900.htm [webmasterworld.com]

It's one of the more intriguing discussions I remember here on expired pages, because it considers a range of possible site types and user needs, and thinking is way outside the traditional box. For me, 410s were counter intuitive, but I could see how, over time, as dropped pages accumulated, 410s might be preferable to noindex.

In the case of the particular discussion, I gather that links in emails were the likely source of visitors coming to the pages after they were expired.
.
PS: Fixed typo.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 9:14 am (utc) on Aug 26, 2013]

Zivush




msg:4604914
 8:43 am on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Follow what news and magazine sites do. They never noindex their old pages.

suzukik




msg:4604917
 9:18 am on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

@londrum

You could use unavailable_after.
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/robots-exclusion-protocol-now-with-even.html [googleblog.blogspot.com]

I know it works.

londrum




msg:4604996
 7:43 pm on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

i think i'm going to try taking all the "noindex" off, and allow google to index the whole lot.

if no one can point to any penalties (other than the normal thin content and duplicate content ones, which i'm confident don't apply), then what is the harm in allowing google to index them?
the pages are all clearly labelled with the dates (in the titles too), so i don't think the clickers would be annoyed

netmeg




msg:4605010
 9:05 pm on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

The harm (in my opinion) is that if your site is teetering on some edge of quality valuation and dumping a bunch of expired event pages into the index tosses you over into the abyss. I've always believed that Google thinks in terms of percentages, and if your percentage of bad starts creeping up on your percentage of good, you could have problems.

lucy24




msg:4605032
 10:52 pm on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Here's a discussion we had in mid-2011

Oi. I can see why I'd blocked that from memory.

Short version, as I now understand it:

If you've got dynamically generated pages, a 404 or 410 response has to be accompanied by including some type of "Can't find it" content, because the server doesn't know you're sending out a 410.* Ordinarily you would simply include your custom 404/410 page. But there's no reason you can't include the identical content that you would have sent out with a 200. Human sees the page; robot sees the 410.


* This is the part I didn't understand in 2011, which is why I come across as utterly clueless in the thread.

simonlondon




msg:4605182
 2:33 pm on Aug 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

the alternative is to just delete these pages altogether, but i dont really want to do that in case i lose a load of backlinks.


noindex the recipient of the backlink is not going to keep the backlinks either.

Robert Charlton




msg:4605378
 9:00 am on Aug 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

i think i'm going to try taking all the "noindex" off, and allow google to index the whole lot.

if no one can point to any penalties (other than the normal thin content and duplicate content ones, which i'm confident don't apply), then what is the harm in allowing google to index them?

The potential harm is that searchers finding an expired page are likely to be upset and back out to Google, which isn't a helpful signal to be sending. And, as netmeg points out, if you're on the edge of a quality devaluation, you don't want to risk that.

On the other hand, noindexed pages actually remain in the index, but they don't appear in the serps. A noindexed page that isn't nofollowed will continue to circulate PageRank to pages it links to, and will pass on the benefits of inbound links the page has received. The meta robots "noindex" tag defaults to "follow".

I see some potential problems, though, with trying to turn meta "noindex" on and off, as, once Google sees that a page is noindexed, it continues checking for the page, but does so less frequently with each subsequent try. (I wish I remember who posted that observation, so I could acknowledge that here). In any event, with Googlebot's return not predictable for noindexed pages, I don't know how you'd time things to get a page back into the serps. Maybe remove the noindex attribute and then use view as Googlebot to get the page re-spidered.

I think outdated pages in SERPs are a major PITA, and I suspect it's a problem that Google knows it needs to solve. Nothing worse for me than checking for a schedule on something that's an annual event and coming up with a page that has no year on it.

Again, netmeg's approach... of removing an expired page for a recurring event from active navigation and taxonomy and posting a notice... sounds like a very good one if it keeps the expired pages out of the serps.

londrum




msg:4605379
 9:15 am on Aug 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

when i'm looking at my competitors pages in the serps, i quite often see expired events. if you look for a concert by Mr Smith, for example, then their two-year old page will be sitting on the first page, ahead of the more recent ones, presumbly because its attracted a lot of back links, and google doesn't understand that its out of date. If you click through to that page, then there's a big box at the top which points the user to the more recent concert (on the same site). so the user is happy, and the site maintains its rankings in the serps.
if you do it like that, then there's no reason why your bounce rate would suffer, i dont think. you've just got to make it very clear to the user that it's old, and have the newer stuff within one easy click.
at the same time... i would remove all internal links to the page, so you cant find it from my site, as per netmeg.

realmaverick




msg:4605393
 10:22 am on Aug 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

The first time I didn't read the post fully, now that I have, Netmegs suggestion makes perfect sense. No point in even having the pages if they're not going to recur. People often avoid 404 like the plague, but there's nothing wrong with a 404 or 410 if the page is truly gone. Deleting pages doesn't go against us.

Simsi




msg:4605476
 4:31 pm on Aug 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google is intelligent enough to understand a niche and treat it accordingly if it decides to. I'd suggest that in the Events niche, noindexing old events - keeping a historical record for users but removing it from Google's index - makes perfect sense. That may not necessarily make sense in other niches.

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