How to make search engines disregard old site pages?

I just launched a brand new version of our website and none of the old pages are relevant anymore. It went from an old static HTML site to a new CMS based site, and new shopping cart. How can I get the search engines to ignore everything from the old site? It’s the same domain name.

For Google, you can remove URLs a couple of different ways. Did you read http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=164734
You’ll need to sign up for Webmaster Tools if you want to actually key in the exact URL to have removed.

If the names have just changed, you could do permanent redirects in htaccess. There’s lots of info out there on how to code these statements.

See these posts that I made on this very topic yesterday:

The only pages I want to redirect are ones that I have advertised in magazines, youtube videos, etc. That’s easy enough. But the entire structure of the site has changed. For example, in the previous shopping cart, I had multiple products in a category all one one pages, with checkboxes to select them to add to the cart. On the new shopping cart, I have individual product pages so a redirect wouldn’t make sense. That’s what I mean when I say the entire structure has changed. It’s essentially a whole new site, with the same domain (name, not host) The new site was built on the new web host while the old site remained functional. When it was time for the new site to go live, all I did was edit the DNS record so that www. pointed to the new host instead of the old.

What I would do is, in the first instance, to redirect all pages that do have an equivalent page in the new structure. You can than decide either:

  • redirect all other pages to the best match, which might just be the start page of the shopping process, or
  • do nothing more for the moment, but watch your logs carefully to see if you get any 404 errors from people requesting the old pages. If there are none, no need to worry about redirection. If people are still trying to hit the old pages then you really should put some kind of redirection in.

Are the redirects even necessary?:

[I]http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=164734

Why do you want to remove content from search results?
The page has changed and I want the outdated information removed

If the content of the page (whether the content itself, or the page title or other information) has changed, the changes will be reflected in Google’s index the next time we crawl your site and refresh our index.[/I]

Google says on that page that the changes will be reflected the next time it crawls the site. Why redirect an old page to a new one if Google is going to find and index the new one?

That refers to when the contents on a page has changed, not when the page has moved.

Yes, if you simply take the old page offline and put the new one up at a different URL, Google will find the new one, but it will start off by competing the old page against the new one, and it will take a while for the old page to eventually be removed from the index, and in the meantime you are likely to see a temporary drop in rankings while Google sorts itself out.

By redirecting the page, you ensure that the ranking is transferred more or less immediately, so you will maintain your position in the SERPs without the temporary drop, and you ensure that people won’t be directed to the old page, and end up looking at (a) out of date information, or (b) a 404 error … whether they’ve followed a link from a search engine or any other page.

As far as possible, you should always put a redirect on any pages that have moved to a different URL.

I’d like to re-enforce redirecting as suggested by Stevie D.

Without redirecting your leaving search engines, linking websites and users out in the dust. You will lose traffic and annoy people.

  • Users will see 404 pages.
  • Search Engines will just drop your pages
  • Referencing websites will drop their links

A very important point is that Google states you should do 301 redirects when you upgrade your website (Refer to Google Webmaster Tools, Site Configuration, Change of Address). Doing that means Google will transfer its indexing and most of an old pages reputation/rank onto the new page. Otherwise you new website will have to start of from nothing as google slowly decides to index it anew.

If you have trouble finding matching redirects try and find the closest page that relates. Every redirect can add a little ranking to one of your new pages and ensures visitors get something close to what they expected.