We have identified a large number of pages on our e-commerce site which we are sure will be considered thin content. These pages are categories of products which have "0 products" in them. The issue we have is that these categories are populated by users listing their own products meaning a category can be full of good listings (and content) one week and completely empty the next.
We have a couple of ideas and would really appreciate any advice on the best solution from an SEO/UX perspective. Our current plan is:
- 404 any categories which have not had any listings for X amount of time (remove them permanently from the site)
- Hide categories from nav on the site when they have no listings present and noindex these pages to avoid any thin content being crawled.
- Users would still be able to add content to these categories when they add new products.
- Remove the noindex tag when an empty category has new listings added.
Questions we have on this are:
- Can a large scale 404 (to the scope of ~3000 pages) cause SEO issues?
- Can a noindex tag being switched on and off repeatedly cause SEO issues?
Any help would be much appreciated especially as I am a bit of a newbie on webmasters stack exchange.