I've deindexed 90% of site, all user profiles. Will this hurt the site’s ranking?

We are running a quizzes, stories, polls, questions website. The website has a total nearly 1M pages. Most of them (930K) are user profile pages, and related pages for the users (“About Me”, “Stuff”, “Followers”, “Activity”).

Only ~70K pages of the website contains quizzes, stories, polls, questions. These pages have much higher quality and more content comparing to the user profile pages.

The user profiles and related pages have a relative “thin” content, and while reading a lot of forums & discussions, I decided to follow the “global advice” and I’ve “noindex, follow” them, to avoid potential penalty from Google and to increase my overall website and remaining pages ranking

Just after doing this, 3 months ago, I observed a ~20% traffic drop from Google organic, that persisted even now. The 20% drop, is caused mainly, according to the Google Analytics, by the quiz, stories, questions page, which I consider strange

My questions:

  1. Do you think that I’ve done correctly? From this huge “noidex, follow” action I do not see any benefit till now, just the ~20% traffic drop. Also, I am afraid to remove the “noindex, follow” tag added to the user profiles, because of possible google penalties for thin content.

  2. Do you think the Google will recalculate the overall ranking of my website better in future, because of this, and the organic traffic will raise recover?

Thank you in advance.

I suspect that the answer is yes. I do think it will.

I don’t think that Google will penalize you for indexing user’s profile pages except if you have loads of spammers (and with the amount of user you got, you’ll probably have quite a few)

I do find weird that, as you say, that 20% drop comes from the quizzes.

In terms of quality, I think that you did well. One advantages of not indexing user’s profile is that bots will not consume bandwidth and server resources reading all those pages. And it looks like in your case, that’s a huge saving.

Regarding if you will recover your rank… well, that depends on the content that’s added: quality and frequency

User profile pages are of little value so de-indexing them shouldn’t do any harm in the long term. Look at it through Google’s eyes - there are millions of user profile pages from forums, member sites and so on, and as you say these pages are usually “thin” on content, and often duplicated across sites (where Joe Bloggs belongs to several sites, he probably uses the same profile info).

Another thing to bear in mind - how many people spend their time using Google to search for profile pages? - not many I bet. I’d suggest the vast majority of traffic to profile pages is made up of bots.

There’s an old adage:

One good quality page is worth 100 bad ones

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