Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 34.229.194.198

Forum Moderators: Robert Charlton & goodroi

To 404 or not to 404, that is the question

     
12:41 am on Jan 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

New User

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Jan 8, 2019
posts: 27
votes: 0


I'm cleaning up an old attorney directory site.

I'm finding in many cases two city pages that:

A) Compete with each other by targeting related queries that 1 landing page can rank for. Example "orange county lawyers" and "orange county attorneys"

B) Have no backlinks or internal links.

C) Get no traffic and don't rank.

I'm thinking I should get rid of one of the duplicates, if you will, and optimize the remaining page.

Should I 404 the page I'm getting rid of, or 301 it to the page I keep?

PS in some cases, I might want to get rid of both of the two pages, because the city they're optimized for has zero search volume. Would I 404 in that case?

Thanks!
3:09 am on Jan 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

Administrator

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

joined:Aug 10, 2004
posts:11566
votes: 182


301 if you are keeping one of the competing pages.
otherwise 410 if you are getting rid of them.
3:13 am on Jan 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

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

joined:Nov 29, 2005
posts:9038
votes: 752


If you get rid of something the appropriate response is 410.

If you are dealing with duplicate content, pick one and go forward, 410 the one abandoned. If you DO 301, keep it in place FOREVER. 404 is a rubbish bin that never resolves and keeps the SEs hitting you to see if you changed your mind.
3:46 am on Jan 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 9, 2011
posts:15444
votes: 739


Would I 404 in that case?
It is rarely necessary to return a 404 explicitly. If the content isn't there, the server will return a 404 with no help from you. Your choices are 301 and 410.
7:33 am on Jan 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

Full Member from GB 

5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 26, 2013
posts:269
votes: 36


410. In the old days we used to 301 but these days, like tangor says, the pages remain in the index for a very long time. Last time we did this was on a football ticket site. Kept the good page, 410 the competing page and a few weeks later saw decent ranking movements on those pages.
10:56 am on Jan 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 7, 2006
posts: 1051
votes: 102


If they have no backlinks, no traffic, and don't rank there is no point in a 301: why bother to redirect links (or traffic) that don't exist.

If one or more SEs have indexed them then it's worth giving a 410, but otherwise just delete them.
5:16 pm on Jan 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

New User

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Jan 8, 2019
posts: 27
votes: 0


Thank you all! Will 410 where there's no backlinks, traffic, or ranking. If a page has all those I'll 301.
7:13 pm on Jan 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

New User

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Jan 8, 2019
posts: 27
votes: 0


PS

I'm finding in many cases two different pages optimized for the same keyword (sometimes with the same H2).

I'm assuming I should 410 the one with less traffic because having two pages cannibalizing is bad correct?

What about when two pages are going for keywords that are very related but not exact match, and for which my competitors are ranking with just one single landing page, i.e. "vegas attorney" and "vegas lawyers"?

Thanks!
12:47 pm on Feb 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 29, 2007
posts:1855
votes: 113


No, if they both have traffic then 301 is the proper method. Letting a visitor land on a 404/410 is probably the worst experience you can give them. I would limit your use of 410 to pages that receive no traffic or to pages where you can alter the path they are using to get there and point it to your better page, ie an internal link.

You will definitely want to consolidate pages that were built for search engines instead of people, ie: vegas attorney and vegas lawyer mean the same thing to most people. You don't need an individual page for each, a single page for Vegas Lawyers and Attorneys is sufficient.

Look at it this way, you've got a garden bed of similar but mostly dead plants. You'll want to pull the dead ones(pages) and nurture whatever is still living(getting traffic) as best you can. Now would be a good time to fully plan out your content in advance, including internal link structure, and avoid having to make repeated changes.

Stand back and look at it more from a human perspective too, you need to offer a good user experience or it will all be for not.

Good luck
6:29 pm on Feb 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 9, 2011
posts:15444
votes: 739


You'll want to pull the dead ones (pages) and nurture whatever is still living (getting traffic) as best you can.
Pulling up dead plants should be a no-brainer. The part that's difficult, and requires both judgement and willpower, is pulling up the plants that have never done well in this location, leaving more resources for the thriving plants. And then you have to decide whether those pulled-up plants go straight into the compost pile or whether they should be given a shot in a different part of the garden. But that's another thread.
 

Join The Conversation

Moderators and Top Contributors

Hot Threads This Week

Featured Threads

Free SEO Tools

Hire Expert Members