Retiring many pages, method

[FONT=&quot]Re-purposing a large site, more than 70% of the pages need to dissolve away. Some sooner than others.

Don’t want to do meta noindex on too many. Or even redirect 301 where applicable on too many. Fear this could be too drastic a change all at once.

My question is: what if I merely make links to the unwanted pages, buried level(s) deeper in the site. Clearly with associated links pulled from the main index and only accessible through the other index’s. Then gradually do away with them from here.

How might G view this? Also, what if on a crawl, they can’t find pages that were previously in their index?
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If the pages are contained within a directory you can always disallow the directory in your .htaccess file.

If you are getting rid of those pages, then ideally you should redirect each page to the nearest match in the new structure. If there are pages that don’t have an equivalent at all, you could create a no-index page that says “Sorry, that page is no longer here. Our site now focuses on (this, that and the other). Please have a look at the home page to find other pages of interest” or something along those lines.

Could probably redirect some, although were still talking at least 50% drop off.

Concerns me from what I’ve heard about making too drastic change to a site in too short a time period.

If the pages are contained within a directory you can always disallow the directory in your .htaccess file.
But how would Google treat this practice?

Many times sites will accidentally get their admin or development environment pages indexed so by redirecting that entire directory in the .htaccess file you can redirect everything within that directory to a single page.

If the existing pages have some link juice then you should do as Stevie D says and redirect them individually so you pass along their value to the appropriate page rather then all of them going to a single page.

You can also block a directory in the robots.txt file, but this is probably not the best approach.

The .htaccess redirects should not have any negative impacts from Google other then removing them from their index.

What if there are many pages of the same topic by city/state – where the city/states are being dropped off?

What really needs to be done are 301’s from 10+ (actually about 25 city/state pages) that each direct to a single page.

ex: italian restaurants in twenty-five different cities –> all having 301’s to a single page about italian cuisine

But doing this across 5-6 main ‘cuisines’

Might there be a penalty for having too many 301’s going to the same pages?

I guess there is always some risk to having too many 301s, but I have never seen it.

I once worked on a site that had drill downs from state to county to city, but we removed all of the county pages and redirected them to the corresponding state pages. Some of the state pages ended up with a lot of redirects to them, but we never noticed a negative impact.

There may have been less redirects then what you are going to have, but we had no problems doing it.

I’ve never heard of such a penalty being applied to legitimate use of redirects. Assuming that there is an obvious content connection between the old pages and the new ones (which there should be, if they’re about the same cuisine), search engines should figure out that you’ve re-org’d your website. You might lose some rankings for location-specific search terms, especially if the new pages make no mention of the range of locations, but that is only what you would expect from changing the content.