I bought a domain which has several subdomains that don`t exist anymore but are indexed in Google.

Is it dangerous from the SEO perspective to do 301 redirect to my homepage from all kind of subdomains that I don't use/not exist? And does it help with the Google's index?

  • You're not going to fool Google, etc into thinking those old subdomains are still useful resources so definitely 410 them and get them out of the search indexes. – Chaoley Feb 21 '14 at 3:02

Is it dangerous from the SEO perspective to do 301 redirect to my homepage from all kind of subdomains that I don't use/not exist?

If they don't exist, the more appropriate status code for your server to return for these subdomains is a 410 Gone, which:

Indicates that the resource requested is no longer available and will not be available again. This should be used when a resource has been intentionally removed and the resource should be purged. Upon receiving a 410 status code, the client should not request the resource again in the future. Clients such as search engines should remove the resource from their indices.

And does it help with the Google's index?

If you 301 redirect the subdomains to the URL of your home page, you'll just be telling search engines that they permanently moved to that URL and to continue indexing it, so it won't really help anything.

You're best option is to use a 410 to cut-down on user confusion and bounce rate, which Google may use a metric signal, and also to eventually reduce the load on your server due to the crawling of these non-existent links.

  • 2
    +1 Although if the subdomains aren't set up to begin with then they won't even resolve - is this as good as (or better) than a 410? It's certainly easier. Trying to capitalise on the SEO by redirecting all of these to the home page is just a bad idea. Google will soon twig that this is what you're doing and the original content will be unrelated to the new content = bad experience for users and Google is likely to drop the result from the SERPs. – MrWhite Feb 15 '14 at 19:49
  • True, it's unclear since the OP asked in regards to using a 301 redirect, and DNS records can remain intact during domain transfers, if the same nameservers are used, and other situations... Agree on the rest in regards 301 redirecting to the home page. – dan Feb 16 '14 at 2:32

I don't think so. However, I would 404 each subdomain since that is a more accurate snapshot of what the situation is. It is likely less risky. If the content has been moved to www.example.com from something.example.com then I assume that there would be less work since in my mind, a 301 would be best matched from page to page to avoid any confusion that may result in loss of any individual page rank if it matters. Either way, you would have to create each subdomain for a period to make work.

If you do have important page rank on the subdomains that you want to preserve, then a page to page 301 redirect may be the only way to preserve the rank.

Personally, I feel it is sometimes best to cut bait and fish or as a Harvard Business School friend of mine likes to say, know when to cut your losses and just redo your site and wait the 60 days for things to settle out. That is what I would do. Depending on the amount of work, trivial in my case, I would recreate each subdomain and do a blanket 404 for each.

  • 2
    Not sure if you saw, but the OP bought the domain with subdomains already indexed for it that aren't being used. Therefore they likely wouldn't have matching content, and a 404 would be inappropriate (as well as resulting in continual requests) since that tells search engines and users: The requested resource could not be found but may be available again in the future. Subsequent requests by the client are permissible. – dan Feb 15 '14 at 17:43
  • You are absolutely right. It did not occur to me that a 404 was anything other than resource not found. Error 410 is closer to what I was thinking but given your point, I would use a 301. My apologies. – closetnoc Feb 16 '14 at 5:47
  • Sure thing, we're all here to learn from each other :-) – dan Feb 17 '14 at 5:11

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