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We deleted a large number of detail pages from a site (deleted pages from here on) and used 301 redirects to send visitors to the most relevant page (target pages from here on). From there, the visitor can now get to details through links to external sites.

Now there are all these redirects from deleted pages pointing to a single target page. The number of 301s to a target page varies from one to hundreds, and is typically about a dozen. To make sure that onsite visitors have a good experience, these are needed at least for a while. Visitor experience comes first.

I am concerned that: Target pages already exist and have better page ranks than deleted pages and I could lose page rank. Search engines will continue to show the deleted page titles and info. An algorithm may find something unusual and drop page rank for perceived wrongdoing.

QUESTION: Should I change robots.txt? Is there something I should tell search engines?

More detail: I have been searching for a similar situation for a long time, and I can't find one. Unlike many others, this is not a matter of totally changing content or sending 301s to a home page. Target pages are related to deleted pages. To provide a sense of this, there are some 50,000 deleted pages and about 8,000 targets. The redirects are in .htaccess files in subdirectories that are no longer being used for current content. Load times do not concern me. All or most pages, deleted and target, are already indexed, with target pages currently rated much higher. No pages are dynamic. Changes are permanent.

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1 Answer 1

Your concern shouldn't be a problem. Redirecting to a page doesn't affect its page rank negatively. And as soon as search engines pick up the redirect, they should update their search results with the target page.

The only problem might be if you redirect to a completely different page with different words on it. In this case, a search for the keywords you ranked for previously will not show the old page (because it's gone) nor will show the new page (because it's not relevant).

It sounds like that isn't happening in your case. If it was, then a better solution (for user experience if nothing else) might be to return a 404 and list some links that the user "may be interested in".

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Thank you! I am learning so much from this site. –  Dave T Jan 3 '13 at 17:53

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