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1.Most of these 98% indexed (supplemental) pages are product pages which will look different and have some new content, but the old product descriptions etc will still be used. What is the best solution? Use a 301 redirect (for about 400 pages), use a 410 gone, or just a 404?
One of my worries is that if Google can’t find the old pages and does not index my new pages quickly enough (if at all) then a lot of internal links to the homepage would “get lost”, possibly harming the ranking of the homepage.
2. Should I use a 301 redirect for those 2% that are in the regular index and deliver some traffic from Google? In most cases it would be a redirect to a page with the same title and description, but the content would actually be different (i.e. before a list of products with links to these products, now pages with links to different product (sub-) pages).
3. If I should use a 301 that leads me to another question: I had a number of pages like this: one page for widgets up to £100 and one for widgets over £100.
Should I now redirect BOTH to the same product page?
4. How important is it that I keep the link texts & alt tags to the homepage in my internal links? They were quite varied in my old site but this would now be difficult for me to achieve. Should I rather change them to something like “Home” or should I choose a keyword/phrase that will be used throughout the site? Could Google regard the latter as spamming and penalize my homepage?
Thanks very much!
And I don't understand why you're concerned about losing all those links from your 98% of supplimental pages - those pages don't have any authority.
FWIW I'm doing the same thing right now and am not concerned because our site only ranks for branded company terms so having all internal pages change URLs shouldn't affect search engine referrals a whole lot because everyone enters from the homepage.
yes it is harmful as the SE's could index hundreds of these pages duplicate content and maybe be just enough dup to throw a filter and case the site much harm.
Is there anyway on this page you can have added a meta to not index as it will be just one page and should be able to add this in the meta tags this will keep the page from getting indexed and won't case any issues.