I'm about to delete 40+ pages that have quality link juice (I'm deleting them for copy write issues). I'd prefer not to do a 404 header on all of them, because I want to preserve inbound links to those pages for SEO. Can I do a 301 redirect to the homepage for all of the deleted pages? I'm concerned because the homepage isn't similar content (It states that a 301 redirect should only be done if the page being redirected to is similar content).

If 301 redirects for the deleted pages is the wrong approach, then what should I do?

  • If the topic is the same yes.... Cars to Bikes would be offtopic. Cars to Vehicles would be on topic. etc etc. Dec 24, 2013 at 19:32

4 Answers 4


301 Redirecting is generally a bad idea when the pages are not relevant. It is believed that Google now determine relevant keywords on the page of links to that of the linked page. Too many non-relevant links you run the risk of being slapped by Google.

Also it's considered bad user experience for users to be greeted with a page they didn't expect (redirecting is absolutely fine when the content is relevant). Sometimes its just better and safer to use a 410 gone.


Redirects to the home page show up in Google Webmaster Tools as "soft 404 errors" in the error reports. Google will not pass Pagerank to what it considers to be "errors."

If you want to preserve Pagerank, you will need to find a more related replacement than just the home page.


What I do is I create a "Content Removed" page with the administrator email and add a rel="noindex" tag in the header. This removes 404 errors from the Webmaster Tools, but I don't know if it preserves link juice or not. Anyway, a simple redirect to home page is not something I recommend.


I once had a site with 6k daily google organic search traffic. I decided to overhaul the entire website and put up a new platform. I 301 redirected all of the previous pages back to the homepage and put the new platform in a separate directory. Google quickly ranked all of the new pages in the new directory and my daily organic search traffic went from 6k a day to 35k a day under the new platform and the 301 redirect.

With my experience in that project, the 301 redirect to the home page does work. The 301 redirect to the home page was done in late 2016 and the 35k traffic began happening in early 2017.

I did find that the inbound links to the previously ranked pages did effect the traffic to the new platform. For instance, if my site was previously about "cupcakes" and my site was now mostly about "strawberries" and most of the old links came from "cupcake" websites, after the 301 redirect to the homepage, Google sent more traffic to "cupcake" pages on the new platform than they did to the "strawberry" pages on the new platform. Even though I was clearly internally linking to the "strawberry" pages much more.

If you do a custom 404 not found page with a single link to your homepage through your logo it should pass some link juice to your home page. Google will likely deindex and derank the 404 page which will diminish your link juice.

The best method is to create relevant content on that 404/deleted page in relation to the links that are linking to it and its previous history and keywords in the URL. By keeping a great page up on the deleted page, it will retain its ranking and your link juice and Google trust will be much higher.

My recommendation is to first try to create valuable content on the deleted pages with a link to your homepage in the logo. If you can't do that, then do a 301 redirect. And if you can't do that, do a 404. Though frankly, I'm not sure if a 404 or a 301 is better. I can only talk from my own recent experience in doing the 301. The 301 worked.

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