Planet13 - 6:44 pm on Aug 10, 2013 (gmt 0)
Hi there, ichthyous:
I know this isn't the exact question you asked, but I would like to make a suggestion or two:
Overall I would agree with Robert Charlton's suggestions above. But there are a few things that possibly need mentioning:
"I did some checking and Google has the tag pages indexed, but they don't bring in a lot of traffic as entry pages so the pages don't rank well."
OK, they don't rank well in google's eyes, but are they popular with your users?
Do you find that your users tend to navigate through your site via:
- An internal search tool?
- Static category Links?
- Your tag cloud?
And assuming that you SELL things, which type of navigation do your BUYERS prefer?
"The module that creates the pages is still active though. So all the pages that have been indexed are still there, but there are no longer any links pointing to them from any page...they are orphaned."
I don't think that is an ideal situation.
I would NOINDEX those individual pages. Google already knows about those pages, and just because you don't link to them doesn't mean that google is going to forget about them.
One thought I have is that you could / should:
1) Use the NOINDEX meta tag on all the individual keyword-based pages to get them out of the search index.
2) Create a SINGLE page with your tag cloud on it.
3) Create a SINGLE link with the text "Find By Keyword" or some other helpful text. This should link to the SINGLE page with the tag cloud on it. This link could be sitewide in the navigation bar or navigation column or in the footer. Just don't link to that tag cloud page multiple times from the same page.
"Having too many 404 errors though will also potentially drag down the site."
No. This has been denied by John Mueller (and I am guessing Matt Cutts said this at some point to).
Create a USEFUL 404 page. In fact, you should use your tag cloud and other navigation on that 404 page. Make sure it sends a correct 404 header, and (since I am always fearful), I would include the meta noindex tag on it as well, too.
On the other hand, having a bunch of 301 redirects that are NOT user friendly could hurt your site.
I hope this helps.