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How do search engines see empty pages?

Is it a good thing or a bad thing for a website to have pages with no content?

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Empty pages, which are accessible with the status code 200, crawlable and indexable for robots, have very negative influence on the quality of the whole website.

Search engine bots come, read the whole HTML document and realize that there is no meaningful content. Google qualifies such pages as soft-404 - it means empty pages give just erroneously the status code 200, but should answer rather with 404. Growing amount of soft-404 crawling problems in the search console is a sign of empty page indexation.

Negative ranking influence comes as punishment for dissipation of search engine bot's crawling power and other machine efforts search engines run to crawl, process, evaluate and index page data. Try to imagine just how many electricity goes lost for fetching of empty pages every day measured by the world's web just to realize they are empty?

Empty pages, like search result pages of the internal website search with zero search results, should be better from the initial website publishing on be disallowed for crawling and have no internal incoming links.

If crawling for some reason can't be disallowed, empty pages should have meta robots as noindex. In case of erroneous origin of empty pages, they should answer with 404 status code.

  • What happens if I add a noindex, nofollow to them? It shouldn't affect negativly anymore I guess – Borjante Nov 6 '18 at 18:30
  • Better is not to have such pages at all. If you have them, so it is better to prevent their crawling through robots.txt, not on the file meta level. If this doesn't go too, or are those pages already indexed - so yes, the only remaining thing is to add noindex,nofollow as meta robots – Evgeniy Nov 6 '18 at 18:58
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    What if you need a "middle" page, such as "/something/actual-content" and that something doesn't need separate content since you ll never be linked there directly? And all the content is structured in the subpages /something/actual-content and /something/other-content etc. Is this a bad approach? Or should you have a redirect to 1st child page? What's the best approach here? – trainoasis Jun 24 at 11:32

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