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301 redirect, did I make the right choice?

     
3:45 am on Apr 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Not long before Panda, I started to take a long hard look at my website. Which on the surface looked great and worked well.

But the more I dig, the more issues I find. One issue I found, was that each new user that registers, about 10 pages were created, as holders for the users content. Google followed the links via activity feeds and such.

This has resulted in hundreds of thousands of INDEXED blank pages. Even worse, if a user fails to verify, these pages are all deleted, resulting in tons and tons of 404's.

I've taken the step to noindex these user pages. But what about the tens of thousands of 404's that now exist, for users who failed to verify? Well I have 301 redirected them all to the homepage. It seemed the logical thing to do.

But did I make the right move? I cannot think of another solution, other than to allow the 404's to exist, but I think Google needs to know they're not coming back.

Hmm wotcha think?
6:55 am on Apr 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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That would not be my choice, although I know many people use that approach. What value is there to preserve about those bogus pages? Unless there is backlink value, direct traffic, something like that. I'd just 410 the bunch of them.

Among other reasons, after googlebot verifies a 410 a few times, the crawling slows WAY down. But a 301 needs to be verified essentially forever - that's a waste of crawl budget. And then there's the technical meaning of a permanent redirect. It says "the content you requested hase been moved to a new address" - but that is not the case.

As I said, I know many people do not think as I do on this issue. All I can say to them is that it works well for the sites I deal with.
8:14 am on Apr 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Using the 404 or 410 is the better solution. Customise the error message to explain what has happened, in detail.

Use the 301 when content has moved to a new location. That isn't the case here.
9:24 am on Apr 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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404 was used and the urls are still there from late 2009-2010. Flooding WMT and still in the index.

Maybe 410 would be of more success. I think I'll likely switch to 410. 301 is making me feel too anxious.
11:55 am on Apr 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I think they will continue to show up in WMT if you have links to those pages somewhere on your site.

If you remove links to those pages, I think they eventually fall off WMT reports.

Of course it can take a long time as Google.
1:10 pm on Apr 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I am also in similar situation. Last week I decided to get rid from pagination to overcome the content duplication and 301 redirected all 1,2,3... pages to root page.

However, after couple of days of change I am observing that googlebot is slow down on those pages.

I have significantly improved the quality of my pages, now how can I get attention of Google on those pages?
1:23 pm on Apr 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The most important thing is that they go straight to the content right from google. One click, done they got what they searched for.
2:00 pm on Apr 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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If you suddenly redirect a ton of URLs to a single URL, like your home page, wouldn't you think that would trip some flag somewhere? If I can't go 1-1 on redirects, or maybe 3-1 at most, I just 404 or 410 it. I can't imagine these types of pages are valuable enough to give any juice back to the single page they're redirected to, and it always struck me as a potentially bad signal to redirect them all to one URL.

(Genuinely curious about the strategy here)
3:25 pm on Apr 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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404 failed miserably. We are indexed heavily, new pages appear what seems like instantly and we're an authority in our niche.

There are no links to these pages, yet they will not go away. Google keeps trying to find them. It's seriously starting to piss me off.

I will try a 410 and see how that goes.