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I am working on a site redesign which is moving from one CMS system to another, with thousands of old pages being moved to a new structure. Some pages have a 1-to-1 mapping from old to new, but thousands of other pages have no exact equivalent, just a general topic landing page.

I'm being asked to massively redirect groups of old pages to three new landing pages (1300 redirects, 500 redirects, and 300 respectively), and then everything else (1200 more redirects) to the home page, but something about this doesn't feel quite right. I know Google specifically says not to redirect old pages to the home page, but I'm having trouble finding any information about landing pages.

To give an example, let's say I sell computers and have 1300 pages with various content such as marketing information about specific components, others talking about manufacturer rebates, some showing comparisons between different parts, some talking about current sales, etc. In other words, a wide variety of pages on the topic. There are no equivalent pages in the redesigned site, but there is a new landing page for computers like http://example.com/computers.html with a little bit of content.

Is 301 redirecting all 1300 old pages to this new landing page the right thing to do? What's the best practice for SEO in this case? Do you have any authoritative sources that talk about this scenario?

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Google considers mass redirects to be "soft 404" and treats them the same as if the pages were 404 not found status when it can detect them.

Google automatically assumes that any redirect to the home page is a soft 404. Your mass redirects to landing pages probably won't be identified by Google as soft 404 errors and you could probably get away with it.

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Redirecting pages to the homepage is the last resort as it can lower the SEO value of your homepage which is what you don't want to happen. You need to try and redirect to the next best page. Think about if you are a user and get to the original page then are redirected to the homepage and think "what happened? Why am I here and why didn't I get the page I requested?"

Check out Moz's resource article for this specific case: https://moz.com/blog/save-your-website-with-redirects

As for a solution, you do have other options besides just redirecting. For example, if these pages do not hold too many backlinks or SEO value, then you don't have much to worry about and can just 404 for them and include a custom 404 page indicating they are no longer available and steer users in the right direction. More on that here: https://moz.com/blog/how-should-you-handle-expired-content

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Redirecting pages to the most-relevant pages is best, but make sure you don't end up with a large chain of redirects. This means, don't make it where when a user acceses one page, they are redirected to another URL which in turn redirects to another URL after that. That will increase overall loading time for the user by at least 300 milliseconds per redirect page and this will be highly visible when tested in webpagetest.org.

Also, google page-speed insights will notice when you have a chain of redirects and it will lower your page-speed score when it finds them.

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