Bruin - 6:44 pm on May 26, 2011 (gmt 0)
Hi Planet 13,
Thank you for your response.
I’m not sure we are still being penalized for the original forum content as we did recover our search engine positioning after we removed all of that content. I’m not certain why we originally lost positioning, but my best theory is that either our main site’s content was diminished because the forum content changed the purpose of our site in Google’s eyes (diminished the legitimate keywords) or that we got into some kind of premature link farm trouble (because that forum was filled with spammers and equated to 10x more documents than the main site), although if that’s the case it never went so far that we lost page rank.
We’re now in a second dip into page rank loss (see explanation above) and it seems a step detached from the original actual content of the forum. Of course I’m always happy to hear other perspectives.
As for 410 errors, we have considered that. I’d be curious to know how Google’s handling of 410 errors differs from its handling of 404 errors. It seems logical to process them more definitively as they would be deliberate by definition. The forum-wide flagging of 410 errors would be easy enough as well. We’d just have to display the 410 error page using mod_rewrite and use it to send the proper 410 header.