Why Are Webpages Being Removed?
One of the most typical reasons for wishing to delete a webpage is outdated material. That makes sense when updating or rewriting a page isn’t worth the effort.
You may wish to delete a webpage if it is no longer relevant. Other times, you may need to delete a complete area of your website, such as if you no longer supply the service discussed on the pages.
Of course, some website owners may need to delete harmful information from their site. But that’s another story.
The SEO Effects of Removing Webpages from Your Site
When you publish a webpage, you may gradually increase its SEO worth.
If it receives links and other ranking signals and then ranks and attracts visitors, removing that page may result in a drop in rankings and traffic.
If a visitor follows a link to your website from another site and the page is no longer available, they will receive a “404 not found” warning.
This can have an effect on the user experience. Unless you manage the 404 correctly, the user will most likely click away from your site (resulting in further lost traffic). More on it in a moment.
As a result, you must use caution while dealing with webpage deletions. Fortunately, there are simple methods to keep the value of those pages so that your website and users continue to benefit.
How Do You Delete a Webpage?
You have four alternatives for removing an outdated webpage from your website:
Option 1: Update the Material Okay, so altering the content does not result in its removal. However, updating content is frequently the greatest remedy to old content.
Indeed, renewing outdated information is an SEO excellent practise, and keeping online content current may increase relevancy and ranks. (You’ve probably heard me mention the need of content management in a strong SEO programme.)
So, before you delete a webpage, see if you can refresh the content at that URL to bring it up to date.
You’ll want to make sure the information is still “on topic” for today. So, in other words, don’t alter the page to a new topic, but modify the text as needed.
For instance, if a website republishes a fresh study report each year, the page has the same focus but with updated data. The website’s information at that same URL should simply be updated with this year’s report and highlights.
Certain themes can also be renewed to make them more evergreen. This might include updating data, current trends, and the viewpoint to bring it up to date.
Maintain in mind that Google favors websites that keep their material up to date.
Option 2: Implement a 301 Redirect.
Before you delete a page, see if there is a better page on your site to redirect it to. If this is the case, you can do a 301 redirect.
A 301 redirect redirects the user from Page A (the page you wish to remove) to Page B. (the new location).
A 301 redirect also causes the search engine to index the new page (Page B) while deindexing the old page (Page A). Furthermore, it transfers Page A’s inbound link authority to Page B in the process.
Overall, it’s a win-win situation for SEO.
One caveat: Make certain that the website to which you are redirecting is topically related to the original webpage. Otherwise, consumers and search engines may be perplexed as to why they are being sent to a page that is unrelated to what they were anticipating.
If you are unable to redirect to an appropriate webpage, you may divert to a related category page on the website.
As a last option, the homepage is redirected, however this is done on a case-by-case basis.
Option 3: Remove the webpage from the internet (and Create a Custom 404 Page)
When all other alternatives, such as altering the page’s content or 301 redirecting the page, have been exhausted, the only option left is to remove the page.
In these circumstances, your server should deliver a 404 “not found” error message to anyone who visits that page via a link from someplace else
It’s unfortunate for user experience, but it does give a unique chance to assist visitors in discovering new material. That is, by developing a personalized 404 page.
When a user receives a 404 error, a custom 404 page is served. This page should include information on what the user should do next. Instead, you might include connections to other information on your website.
This might help you retain some of the visitors you would have lost if you didn’t have an appealing 404 page.
Pages that are deleted and serve a 404 error are normally removed from the Google index when the site is scanned again. Usually, it is exactly what you want after removing a webpage. However, bear in mind that unless you have another, superior page on the same topic, you will no longer rank for those keywords.
However, I propose producing a report on 404s on a regular basis and then checking if any of them can be replaced with a 301 redirect. A nice place to start is Google Search Console.
In any case, a custom 404 page will be useful for redirecting people to a fresh resource.
Option 4: Make use of a 410 Status Code
A 410 status code informs search engines that the page has been permanently removed.
Google processes 404s and 410s in the same way. And Google has explained this on several occasions (for additional information on Google’s perspective, read this Search Engine Journal article and this Search Engine Land post).
For not-found pages, most websites use 404 errors. The Salesforce Commerce Cloud e-commerce platform is one exception, and there may be more. So, if you employ 410 status codes on your site, keep in mind that you’ll also need a custom 410 error page for users, similar to your custom 404 page.
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