We have a website with about 5000 pages.
1000 of them have high quality content. The other part is pretty bad : it's basically just category listing pages, with basic "generated" content. We have about 20 different descriptions (150 words, with a few variables), so their similarities are very high.
We created these pages in 2013-2014, thinking that it may help us get long tail. It kinda worked, as those pages attract about 20% of our users today.
But we realize that these pages might be the reason the website doesn't rank as much as it should on the "high quality" pages : compared to our competitors, we have good metrics in the "technical" seo aspects. We also have good internal linking (no more than 4 level deep), and very good, high-authority backlinks. But we're stuck on page 2, or the bottom of page 1 for at best.
So we're thinking about removing these pages, but we're not sure on how we should do it :
- Go hardcore, and remove all the pages. 404 everywhere. Or even 410 for those that we don't want to create content in the future ?
- Remove only the pages that drive less than x visits a month, with 404/410.
- Remove only the pages that googlebot visits less than x times a month. 404/410.
- We could 301 redirect all these pages to their "parent" category. Either all of them, or only those that doesn't rank, or only those that googlebot doesnt visit often.
- Keep all the pages, but with "noindex" (but that would still use crawl budget ?)
- Kill the pages gradually : instead of removing 80% of our pages at once, we could remove x% every week for a few month ?
Do you think removing the pages will help ? If so, what do you think is the best way ?