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We are launching a new network and want to focus/funnel users to our top sites. We have hundreds of domains, but most of them don't really merit their own development (many were bought for brand protection), and would ideally redirect to one of the top sites, which there are only a handful of (20ish)

For example, we have a food category. Our main site in this category is something like FoodSite.com. We have dozens of smaller subcategories that fit into the food category. Like BakingSite.com, PastrySite.com, SnackFoodSite.com and so forth.

If we 301 redirect PastrySite.com, BakingSite.com, and dozens of other ones to the main portal, FoodSite.com, are we making a terrible SEO mistake? We know people who go to PastrySite.com will be interested in FoodSite.com (and have relevant, quality content there for them), but PastrySite.com does not merit its own page at this time.

What would be the best approach to this in regards to SEO? Everything i'm reading tells me 301 redirect, but I've never seen the topic discussed at such a large scaled (hundreds of sub-categories pointing to 20ish strong umbrella sites with quality content).

Any points would be greatly appreciated!

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If you had content on those domains then you definitely want to do a 301 redirect as it will allow both search engines and users to find the new location for that content. For search engines that includes carrying over any links the pages on those domains had before the content was moved. Just keep in mind some link value will be lost by doing the redirect but the amount is small and usually worth the gains of consolidating the content.

If there was no content on those domains and you are pointing them to a new website then you still want to do a 301 redirect to ensure you don't have duplicate content issues. You could use canonical URLs but that can be confusing to users if they see different URLs for the same content.

The quantity of the domains and/or pages isn't really an issue. It won't cause red flags to be raised or anything like that. Just keep in mind if the domains being redirected are currently active you will take a hit in the search results until Google and the other search engines get everything all sorted out.

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Thank you, John! It seems we'll go ahead with the 301 Redirects then! – James Alex Jun 7 '11 at 19:49

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