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404'd old pages to relaunch from scratch. Will it work?

11:35 pm on Mar 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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

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We have acquired a 10 year old thin affiliate site, which ranks moderately well on semi competitive phrases, poorly optimized, which is being re-launched. It has no internal links. Improvements are in UI/UX - responsive design , improved on page and meta, new useful content [ small percentage versus scripted pages/semi useful ] and url structures, plus lightening fast load and rendering.

It has a legacy of some reciprocal links [ our pages taken down - also 404'd ] which have not been disavowed, as they are the only links into the site at this stage.

A while ago there was a good thread about the dangers of doing mass 301 redirects to the home page. [webmasterworld.com...] . So ....

Does anyone have any experience in relaunching old sites from scratch using 404's on old url's. What are the expectancies with re ranking / indexing time ?
12:00 am on Mar 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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

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A while ago I removed a site from www because it just wasn't performing as expected. At a later date I relaunched the site with some improvements, new content and fresh design. It had retained some links, so my situation was similar to yours.

It took a while but rankings did return, I think Google saw it as a fresh site with IBL's to be honest. I think when the site was gone the link juce just vanished. I don't think the existing links caused any issues when the site was down, they may actually have done more harm to the pages doing the linking.

I should emphasize that this was around 2 years ago, hopefully it will give you some ideas.

5:06 pm on Mar 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It has no internal links.

Perhaps you mean external links? Because if the site has at least main nav, it would have internal links.

From what I am understanding, you are asking what should you do with these (once) reciprocal links that now go to pages that are 404.

Redirecting to Home Page is a bad idea. The best would be to create new content on the old URLs, and the new content would be very relevant to link(s).

If you cannot, then redirecting to a page that has a similar content could be a solution.

If you do not have a similar content, the page should really go 404.
6:14 pm on Mar 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

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

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The fact that the pages 404'd are still being "found" is a minor blessing. As noted above 301 those links to new pages with comparable but updated/new content. Go from there. Do NOT enmass redirect to the home page (soft 404) as none of the SEs like that.

On the other hand, if that(however many) 404 page will not be in the new site, 410 it to keep things lite and swift. And all that said, there's not an SE out there that ever forgets a URL it has found. 10 years from now it will ask for that page again. This, of course, is a PITA.

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