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A client's SEO "expert" has recently asked us to redirect hundreds of URLs to the home page but we're not sure if her request is the best way of going about it.

Here's the situation:

The clients site as a page called /knowledgebase.aspx. By default, this page shows the latest 10 articles.

When using the search feature of the site, it goes to the KB and adds the search terms to the querystring eg /knowledgebase.aspx?search=popcorn it will shows a list of articles containing popcorn.

A feature of the site recently removed is that of keywords or tags. Tags, like a blog, could be added to articles and the assigned tags were displayed under the article. Clicking on a tag of fruit, for example, would take you to the KB page with the url /knowledgebase.aspx?keyword=fruit. And, as expected, it would display a list of articles with a tag of fruit.

As this tag functionality no longer exists the site no longer contains pages with links to the KB with keyword in the query string.

Here's the problem:

Apparently, in Google's webmaster tools, these tag URLs ranked well and so the SEO expert wants all URLs containing knowledgebase.aspx?keyword= to be 301'd to the homepage. (Wouldn't this mean lots of URLs with dupe content so google will decide which to use on its results pages?)

We're thinking maybe add some 301s to a category page for closely matching content while using 404s for everything else (with human friendly content obviously).

The SEO expert though has an allergy or something to 404s though, thinking them an "error" and "bad".

What should we do?

Make all URLs with /knowledgebase.aspx?keyword= redirect to the homepage? (as requested)

301 good URLs to relevant other pages and return 404 for the rest? (our current thinking)

We could do nothing which presumably would have a similar effect to 301ing everything in that they will all have different URLs but the same content (in this case the latest articles as opposed to the homepage).

Any advice, pointers & hints would be greatly appreciated :)

  • Well, 404s are bad, and you should avoid them. Would those URLs generate anything useful by redirecting all of the 'keyword=' URLs to 'search=' URLs? – StephenCollins Jul 5 '13 at 14:33
  • Sorry, I disagree on the whole "404s are bad" thing. As for redirecting keyword= to search=, I hadn't thought of that. At least that way they should retain some link equity due to the "new" pages at least being relevant. I'll see what they say. – Jag Jul 9 '13 at 14:52