Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from

Message Too Old, No Replies

Removing obsolete pages vs reusing the url



3:20 am on Nov 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have two scenarios.

1. We recently removed a large number of pages (15% of the site) from the site for a product line we no longer carry. We did a .htaccess 410 which seems to be behaving correctly. Google is dropping them from the index quickly. However I read somewhere that doing that may reduce the Google trust factor. Concerns? If so, what are my options since we used 410's? One of these days I will research first and act second.

2. We constantly remove pages due to products becoming unavailable. We have been letting them run the 404 course. Should we be concerned that the content will change radically if we reuse those pages (i.e. from green widgets to yellow cars)? What are the concerns if we use 301's to a submenu page (i.e. 301 a green widget product page to a widgets menu page).

Thanks for your feeback,


4:40 am on Nov 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

You already took this step - so don't look back now, I'd say. 301 says the content has moved -- but your content went away forever. I would not advise a 301 in that case.


11:53 am on Nov 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I don't think it will lower trust, rather it won't let your long time pages increase it further.

It's not a problem, but you're cutting yourself off of a gain... in my opinion.

What i don't get is that... are you the maker of these products?
Or are you just selling them ( perhaps even as affiliates )?

Okay, IF you're the manufacturer, or perhaps a long time and trusted seller, here's what i'd do... ;)

I'd keep the pages, only have them linked to in a different link hierarchy, ie. not the product index, but something like the "product archives" or "product history" or whatever. Keeping the URLs the same, but of course adding something like "we no longer carry this product" to the page, removing links to payment or perhaps even say "We don't have this anymore but maybe you'd be interested in this"... i mean if you have similar things... why would it hurt to tell people about it. ( Sorry there's just way too little info on what you do on that site :P )

IF it was unique that is.
If it can be found just about anywhere on the net, then this isn't a good idea. Make that... don't do it then.

But in case it was unique, or offered some unique information, comparison, whatnot... i'd say keeping it under such a category would not harm you. If their PR would drop because of the new category, they'd become supplemental at most. They'd still be there, and showing valuable historic data both to visitors, and google ( about your site ). The history of URLs does play a role in trust i think...
( must have read it somewhere :P )

So if it wasn't just an affiliate feed, but unique info people might still find interesting... i'd say keep it, just in a user friendly way. And add a vote button, or counter to see if enough people are curious about such products for the company to carry them once again :)


If it can be found elsewhere or has no additional value other than the "buy now button" delete it NOW >:)

Gah... i keep envisioning a normal business with a website. My fantasies are blurring my vision... ( gotta keep remembering this is a webmaster forum... people here rarely are the manufacturers themselves )


4:18 pm on Nov 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

We are a retailer so products become discontinued and new products are added.

We don't use data feeds. We are not an affiliate, however other sites offer the same or similar products. We don't have an exclusive internet presence with our suppliers. Our individual product pages are indexed (not supplemental).

One part of the situation we hadn't thought much about is the link issues.

If we remove the link to a discontinued product from our product indexes and change that page with links to similar products, it becomes a doorway page. We wouldn't want to link to a discontinued page from our product indexes so to avoid a doorway page, we would have to create a "discontinued product index". Would this help both users (who got to the page directly) and help the site from Google's point of view?

Keeping those products that don't have any similar product(s)could be pointed to our "trusted" competitors that have similar products.

Alternative? What happens if you 301 an obsolete page to a page that has "similar" content? Are there concerns about content on a 301? Pass PR and content similar but users don't get a benefit?


5:51 pm on Nov 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

That 301 just wouldn't sound right. :{

I mean even if it's the most minor version of a redirect spam, having a page about something that ranks but doesn't exist, pointing to another...

Mm... that's not good. Although those redirects are mostly 302s.
But the reason to penalize or ban a site with lots of these is the same... i guess.

I'd say either a 404 ( with a unique error page, perhaps serving links to similar products based on what nonexistent URL was requested... i'm not sure if it's even possible )

Or keeping the URLs as i mentioned... but... if the content is not unique... ( although i've seen thousands of pages on Amazon, and other sites with "this product is currently not available" or "alert me when this product becomes available again"... )

BTW did you do any research whether you HAVE any links pointing to these pages at all? I mean from external sites. Most people would not link to a single product, but the domain or category instead.


11:28 pm on Nov 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

If the page has gone, then I would use a custom 404 error page that contains a noindex meta tag, sends a 404 HTTP response, and contains links to related parts of the site to get the surfer to click deeper into your site.

Technically, you could have a different 404 error page for different sections of your site, if you really need to. I would also investigate doing that.

Funnelling multiple "gone" URLs to one place via multiple 301 redirects is not the correct application of the redirect, and is best avoided.


3:52 am on Dec 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Good point on the external links thought. You are right about the individual product pages not having external links. Based upon everything I am hearing, the best (and easiest to maintain) is to let the obsolete product pages die a natural death via the 404 route. We will look into the 404 for each section of the site option. That would be the best for users.

Agreed on the 301 approach. We have used 301's where the page was exactly the same except where the URL itself changed. We have done that to avoid duplicate content between the new page and the old supplemental page (which is physically gone but is still listed as suppplemental).

Some of the sections that we 410'ed had quite a few external links to them. In hind site we should have rewritten those pages with the "sorry no longer available but here are some similar ideas for you". Then check periodically to make sure the links are still there to avoid the doorway issue.

I think we have a plan now.
If the page is obsolete and no external links, let it go 404.
If the page is obsolete and has external links, rewrite with customer options and let it go 404 when those links are gone.

Thanks for your help.


Featured Threads

Hot Threads This Week

Hot Threads This Month