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I added a forum on my website which I had high hopes for, however, it is clear that those hopes are unfortunately not going to develop.

I received 100'000+ visitors last month (humblebrag) with only a couple of forum posts from those visitors, so don't really think it is worth keeping the forum going, since it takes a lot of effort in monitoring it, and at the moment I actually think it might be impacting my SEO negatively since there are a number of pages with very limited content.

My Problem

I would like to remove this forum, however, due to a BUG in my theme I have run into trouble regarding 404 errors recently with google messaging me with the dreaded 404 UI experience message:

Googlebot for smartphones identified a significant increase in the number of URLs on http://www.example.com/ that return a 404 (not found) error. If these pages exist on your desktop site, showing an error for mobile users can be a bad user experience. This misconfiguration can also prevent Google from showing the correct page in mobile search results. If these URLs don't exist, no action is necessary.

Solution??

What will be the best way to remove the forum and its content without running into 404 problems. Keep in mind I want to completely avoid 404 problems if in anyway possible?

Note: The forum is a wordpress plugin which can easily be uninstalled, however I'm sure I would need to configure something in my htaccess or similar, to minimize 404 problems

Thanks for reading.

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If the pages of the forum no longer exist, then you may do either of the following:-

  1. Block your forum with robots.txt and then manually submit the URLs in Google Search Console for removal.

  2. Ignore these warnings and they will eventually go away. Google has those pages in its index and so when they're coming back to re-crawl they're getting the 404 error and logging them. After a few repeated 404 errors, Google will likely drop those pages from their index anyway.

The warning message is intended to notify you of any mis-configuration that might have led to 404 being returned on otherwise valid (200) pages. If the pages really do not exist anymore, then follow what Google has mentioned in the last line

If these URLs don't exist, no action is necessary.

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