I recently made took over a site that had basic html and converted it into a dynamic php site. One of the features is 'pretty URLs' i.e., city-events.html is now simply events, and I'm curious as to what to do with the old pages.

Right now Google is reporting 19 "soft 404" errors for the non-existing pages.

  • Should I make 301 (Permanant) redirects for each of the old pages?
  • Would it be better to use a 410 response to eliminate the pages (and would this hurt existing page rank?)
  • Or should I leave them as is (redirecting to a user friendly 404 page) and let Google figure it out?

I'm worried about the site's rank because it dropped from 1st to 17th in Google.

2 Answers 2


If you have consolidated information, you will need to redirect (301) from the old pages to the new, consolidated page.

A good rule for redirects is to redirect to the most appropriate alternative page. Never mass-redirect to the homepage.

301 redirects pass on approximately 1/10th of your page rank, which is better than the 0 passed along from 404s.

Your ranking drops could be because the pages went from specific and optimised to more general with less on-page optimisation.


If the page simply moved to new URLs do 301 redirects from the old URL to the new URL. This will tell search engines, and users, where to find those pages. This is useful for any users who have those pages bookmarked as they will be automatically taken to the new location.

This is useful for search engines since not only will it tell them the page has moved and to stop crawling the old URL, but, at least for Google, it will also carry over any ranking factors including PageRank to the new URL. This will preserve your previous rankings.

  • The individual pages are gone but the media from them is combined into one page (per category). Should I still make 301 redirects to the 'generic' or 'master' pages? Aug 27, 2013 at 22:31
  • Probably yes. If each page just had the media and now it's combined into one page that would be an appropriate reason to do a 301 redirect to the new "master" page.
    – John Conde
    Aug 27, 2013 at 22:32

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