Imaster - 5:43 am on Aug 12, 2013 (gmt 0)
Thanks a lot everyone for all your help and inputs on this issue. Done the changes. Namely removed the 301 redirects and sending a 404 header with a custom 404 page that displays links to those pages where it was getting 301 redirected earlier. Perhaps, We will directly show those pages (content where it was getting 301 redirected to) too in the custom 404 in future.
Now waiting to see how this affects the position in Google.
aakk9999 >> However - one exception - if one of such pages to be removed has very good external links, then on some cases I may decide to leave this page returning 200 OK and add a disclaimer to that page along the lines that this info does not exist any more, please go to city URL to see the full list of currently available services.
Thanks, I will note that!
netmeg >> I never do any redirects on this stuff. I only redirect for replacements.
And yea, sometimes I have a lot of 404s when I clean out a bunch of old events, but I just have to trust that Google knows how to deal with it. At any rate, traffic on these sites has grown every year since 1999, so it's been okay so far. I'm reasonably sure if you have other quality signals that this one won't hurt you.
If you wait till you're totally sure, you'll be waiting forever. There are no "totally sure"s with Google. But personally, I think a bunch of real 404s are probably better than a bunch of soft ones.
This makes a lot of sense. I have decided to do a 404 with most probably displaying related results on the error page or retrieving the contents of the redirected page on the 404. But I will get it done asap.
lucy24 >> The rules that apply to the Very, Very Big Names don't necessarily apply to ordinary humans. So unless your name is Amazon, don't assume you can do whatever the competition is doing.
Point noted! Thanks a lot.
JD_Toims >> Eventually they will, but if the URL is noindexed when they receive a 404 they drop it nearly immediately. (I guess it's possible they've changed something since I've tested it, but a 404 + noindex has worked well for me to get pages dropped sooner in the past.)
Thanks for this insight!
phranque >> take a look at what google has said to webmasters recently about soft 404s.
Thanks! Thats all very very helpful!