I am managing an e-store site created by another colleague, that was badly created from the start. Because of the structure, pagination and user browser capabilities combined with lack of meta robots directives to "noindex" certain pages it ended up with over 20k pages indexed in Google.
I am working on a website restructure, to follow all the seo meta robots directives correctly as well as eliminate a lot of browsing capabilities to eliminate tons of duplicated and useless pages.
However, doing bulk 301 redirects of the eliminated urls might(most probably will) cause 404 errors according to google's webmaster's guidelines. Also, if I remove the pages from the website's internal linking, I will have to manually deindex pages one by one in webmaster's tools as the crawler will not have access to it so that it can read the noindex directives and update it in time.
As an example :
www.example.com/products- this contains a list of products, paginated until page 2000+
www.example.com/products/a- this contains a list of products starting with the letter A, paginated to about 30+ pages
www.example.com/products/b- you get the point.
www.example.com/products/most-viewed- a list of most viewed products ( the same products - paginated to 2000+
www.example.com/products/top-rated- the same products, paginated to 2000+
As you can see there lots and lots of duplicated content.
I am trying to fix it. So I am implementing rel=next and prev for the pagination, but I also want to remove some useless pages for example the browse product alphabetically. In order to deindex the
a. Eliminate it from internal linking completely and then manually request an url removal for each link from webmasters tools ?
b. Keep it on the website and use meta robots to noindex these pages? I will have to leave it here untill the crawler gets around and updates all the pages accordingly.
c. Remove it from website's internal linking but add the meta robots noindex/follow, but instead of manually de-indexing them I should add them to the url sitemap and submit it to google so that the crawler still knows them and crawls them to read the noindex directive... even though they are no longer linked from the website.
d. 301 redirect to either the products page or home page. But some many bulk directs to a single page or homepage will cause problems and Google can treat them as 404 actually. More info here https://moz.com/blog/save-your-website-with-redirects If I were to redirect each one to another page that would be something, but I am trying to remove lots and lots of pages.
What would be the logical approach?