A website owner or a web developer may have several reasons why their page is no longer required on their website. For instance, a page that has a service that is no longer provided, or to a product that is no longer supplied or others, such as a page that may specify information that is no longer accurate, or the website owner may wish to change the optimization and purpose of the page. This will surely and drastically alter the URL structure, as well as essential Meta data. Therefore, you’d better consider some factors below before simply removing the page.
Things that we should consider are whether the page still adds value and serves purpose for your visitors or not. You may think that a page is no longer required, but your users may still need it. If you are not sure whether the page still has a good contribution to your site, you can use analytics to do a research on a range of data such as visits, entrances, time on site and bounce rate to help you make the right decision.
Figure out if the page currently produces a significant volume of traffic that brings relevant visitors to your website. For those who have Google Analytics built for your website, you can easily discover the volume of traffic that the page in question is generating by viewing behavior area of the pool.
High quality inbound links that come from sites pointing towards it are good for your sites. To check the volume and quality of inbound links pointing to a specific page, you can use many free and paid tools, such as open site explorer and ahrefs that are the most popular among others.
If your page has any internal links directed to it, your page will likely to get ‘broken’ if the page is removed. Therefore, you need to ensure that your page is removed from the website in the correct manner.
Removing Web Pages and Status Codes
Regarding the accessibility status of any given page on a website, you may need status code to provide messages to both search engine bots.
404 (Not found)
Your page may need to return a 404 (Not found) status code in response to requests to access the page in question. The 404 page means that the page in question can’t be located on the server. If your content isn’t moving to another location, then this is the correct status to return. In fact, Google has considered 404 (Not found) status code as a normal situation that any websites will experience as pages are removed from websites all the time.
Keep in mind that you need to ensure that the search engines know the page is no longer a part of the website by ensuring that the correct 404 status is returned. This will reinforce that your site is no longer a part of the website. Moreover, bear in mind that providing well designed 404 will help you maintain a good user experience.
301 (Moved Permanently)
If you wish to notify that a page on your website has permanently moved to a new location, then 301 page is the right option for you. This is because 301 page ensure that your visitors accessing the old URL are redirected to the appropriate new location, and that value of any links pointing toward the old URL are retained and passed on to the new version.
Mostly, people use 301 redirect pages to change the content and optimization focus of a particular page, as often when doing so you will want to alter essential features of the page such as the URL structure to refine the target keywords. You can also use this page if you have a product or service on your website that has been discontinued. Generally, a 301 redirect page can be used to ensure that visitors are passed on to the next most useful page on your website that relates to that product.
In conclusion, you should always remember that your decision to remove a page from website will always affect visitors. Therefore, you need to think carefully about why the page may no longer be required, and ensure that your decision provides the best solution for both you and your visitors.