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Redirect Issue - What to do

     
1:05 pm on Jun 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

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We have a website where the public and widget dealers advertise their widgets for sale.
When a widget is loaded to our system it creates a widget details page specifically for that widget and that page is indexed by google.
When the widget is sold, the page will disappear, but the page still remains in googles index.
What my web developer did (it isn't live yet) was to create a 301 redirect so when a user clicks a google listing of a dropped widget details page - the page redirects to the general widgets page, so the user doesn't get an error or a blank page.

I'm worried that this will create duplicate content, as it is the wrong way to use a 301 redirect - is that assumption right? If so which is the correct course of action so that we don't mess up our Google indexing/listings etc
Thanks Guys
1:42 pm on June 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The best practice would be to respond with 410 and display a page that explains to the user that the item is no longer available. You can do a 301 in the way you describe and probably not have any problems to speak of, but keep in mind that the search engines will continue to try to crawl that URL as long as the 301 is in place - which means they won't be crawling your existing pages quite as often.
2:41 pm on June 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Rainborick,
I don't want the user to just see a page that says item no longer available, and then click the back button and go to another website.
That was the thinking behind dropping the user into the listing page of all the unsold widgets.
Just because that particular widget is not available doesn't mean we don't have one they would still like to buy.
My issue is clinging on to the user, not losing him (they are precious. The nature of the widgets we advertise is that there are hundreds of different versions of the same models. I suppose it's like iphones for sale on Ebay - just because one particular iphone is sold doesn't mean there isn't a load more for sale :-)
3:12 pm on June 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

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You can serve the user any kind of custom message you want to generate. As long as the 410 STATUS is being served in the http header, you're good to go.

The kind of implementation you are describing may work for you "out of the box", but it's the kind of thing that may be like a time-delayed bomb.
3:30 pm on June 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The kind of implementation you are describing may work for you "out of the box", but it's the kind of thing that may be like a time-delayed bomb.


I would just add to this that I had some "new" pages that saw improvement the SERPS once I REMOVED some 301 redirects to them that were from somewhat unrelated deprecated pages.

Each of those new pages were category level pages, and I had redirected about 6 to 8 deprecated product pages to those category pages.

When I reduced the number or 301s to only about 2 or 3 each, the pages improved their ranking disproportionally higher than other pages on my site were improving.

For those pages that I removed the 301 redirects they currently serve 404 errors. I don't seem to have any problems with google with them, but I can do a much better job of making a more user-friendly for visitors who visit them.
7:41 pm on June 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I have used 301 redirects to a category page with similar products when a specific product is no longer available. I believe that such a redirect is better for users than a "this product no longer exists" message.

The proper HTTP status would actually be a 303 "See Other" redirect. It would be nice if Google were to honor 303 redirects the same as 301 in terms of pagerank passing. Browsers behave the same for various redirects (301, 302, 303, 307).
7:58 am on June 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the feedback guys - It is much appreciated :-)