I have a lot user profiles links indexed on Google, e.g.:


Before I have public for each profile ''followings and followers'' and this Google index


I hide now followers and following from public and now all this links from Google open 404 error page. Can I all this followers and following links redirect to profile so:


redirect to example.com/lol.

This not give me some Google penalty because more page redirect on same?

3 Answers 3


Since these two pages have been deleted (from public view at least) and they have not moved somewhere else - so there is no equivalent page to redirect to - then the appropriate response is a 404 (as you are already doing).

However, this should be a customised 404 with an appropriate link to the parent page (user profile), so users remain engaged on the site. The user now understands that the URL they followed no longer exists, but are guided to the nearest available.

Google sees the 404 and eventually drops the page from the SERPs.

Can I redirect or not?

Redirecting to a "different" page is likely to be seen as a soft-404 by Google - this is likely to be the only "penalty". As with a regular 404, Google is likely to drop the URL from the SERPs. Since the page doesn't exist anyway, you can't really argue with that.

For the user... The user is redirected to a different page to what they were expecting. This could lead to confusion and an increased bounce rate.

There is also another issue with redirecting... how quickly do you want these pages removed from the index? The cached version of the page might still be available. A redirect (soft-404) might take longer than a proper 404 (which is still subject to some delay). A 410 Gone would be even quicker.

In summary... A customised 404 would be preferable. A redirect is unlikely to see an additional "penalty" with search engines, but could potentially result in some confusion.

  • you want to tell redirect will give me maybe some penalty or redirect will not give me penalty ?
    – nikola99
    Oct 11, 2016 at 8:26
  • As mentioned in my answer, you're unlikely to get a specific "penalty" (other than these removed pages getting dropped from the index). However, whether this is the preferred method from a users perspective is another matter.
    – MrWhite
    Oct 11, 2016 at 12:13
  • sir my english is bad and not know what you mean can you please answer ''you probably not get penalty if you redirect'' or ''you will probably get penalty with redirect'' this is what i can understand ? thank you
    – nikola99
    Oct 11, 2016 at 14:17
  • ''you probably not get penalty if you redirect''
    – MrWhite
    Oct 11, 2016 at 14:30

I did not recommended to use 301 redirection, because it is not made for that. I have not seen any penalty for misuse of 301 redirection, but may be other seen it.

Your site structure look's like twitter, and when you search some twitter profile with site operator then you will see Google not showing any profile with /profile/following/ URL, and it is because they have blocked it in their robots.txt. And that is what I want to recommended for your site as well.

Actually this robots.txt helps to twitter in SEO also it's help to prevent spam. For example, if I follow your profile, then my profile will be listed in your followers list, and if you allowed to crawl it, then your profile Pagerank will pass to your all followers, and some little PageRank I will also get it. And Google recently announce that, do not link social media company profile that pass pagerank, otherwise both will get penalty, so I think somehow Google using twitter profile Pagerank as well in their ranking.

  • 1
    The OP has already stated that the /following and /followers pages are now non-public (ie. members only), hence the 404 (for unauthenticated users, eg. Google). The link to the Google blog article seems unrelated - that is essentially about paid-for backlinks. (?)
    – MrWhite
    Oct 10, 2016 at 7:56
  • The article says more than just paid links. His site structure look's like twitter, and hence I describe how twitter doing that for website. If both followers and following list are allowed to crawl then all profiles will get approx same PR. Hence I recommended to use robots.txt. I know he is asking for weather he will get penalty on 301 redirection, so on which I already said, I did not seen any penalty like that.
    – Goyllo
    Oct 10, 2016 at 11:18
  • before i have open lists of followers and following so anyone can not register come on page and for each profile see followers and following, this was each page with each title and description, google indexed all that followers and following pages, i before 1month hide followers and following lists and now my page for all that indexed links return 404, i ask can i all this links e.g. example.com/username/followers redirect to example.com/username ? without i get some google penalty ?
    – nikola99
    Oct 10, 2016 at 13:41
  • e.g. twitter.com/rihanna you see there following and followers page there you need be login for see ? i was have that 2 pages with users followers and following public and google indexed all that pages, i remove that pages, and now i ask if i can all that followers and following pages redirect to user profile page ?
    – nikola99
    Oct 10, 2016 at 13:50
  • I have not seen any 301 redirection penalty in my life, but as you can see twitter prompt user to either login or signup. So why you want to do 301 redirection? If you have problem of indexing that kind of pages, then why just don't use noindex meta tags so google still crawl all the thing in your site, but without indexing that webpages. I did not recommended 301 because it's look like cloaking, you're showing different thing to user and showing different thing to googlebot.
    – Goyllo
    Oct 10, 2016 at 17:56

I think you can redirect all links by a 301-Redirect. That's the official way of google.

  • i think same but need someone who can say for sure what is best to do
    – nikola99
    Oct 9, 2016 at 15:42
  • With 301 you tell google, the adress will change permanet. So you can do it. Oct 9, 2016 at 16:14
  • The OP isn't "changing the address". The OP has essentially removed two URLs, but presumably wishes to preserve ranking (and keep users). Implementing a redirect will redirect the user to a different (possibly unrelated) page - is this good/bad for SEO?
    – MrWhite
    Oct 9, 2016 at 16:23
  • yes @w3dk i remove following and followers list from my user profiles and i now have a lot indexed pages on google example.com/username/followers , my question can i all this followers and following links redirect to user profile example.com/username without i get penalty ?
    – nikola99
    Oct 9, 2016 at 16:39

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