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Delete a page from your website it should be a decision made with some caution. Do you really need to make it disappear completely? There are other ways to get rid of content without necessarily having to trash your resource. However, if you really must, make sure to delete the page in accordance with SEO.
In this article I will help you understand if your page should really be deleted and, if so, how to do it without risk for SEO.
Do I have to clear the page?
If you want delete a page from your site in respect of SEO, you will first need to decide whether it is necessary to permanently delete it or whether other systems may be sufficient.
Do you have a problem with duplicate content and don’t want to incur penalties? It may be more appropriate to use canonical URLs. Instead of completely deleting your page, you can safely use the rel = “canonical” attribute of the tag in the section of your page.
In this tag, you will specify the URL of the page you want to indicate as canonical, that is, as the only one to be taken into consideration for that duplicate content, using the href attribute. Example:
Consequently, only the canonical page will be taken into consideration by the search engines, which will no longer detect the presence of duplicate content.
If you want delete content because it talks about topics that no longer have any value, or that have become obsolete, you could update the text leaving the same URL.
You can also completely change the text within your page but, if the URL remains the same, there is no problem for Google and your page will always keep the score acquired over time.
Alternatively, you can keep your page published, but add the meta tag to the head robots = “noindex”. This way, you don’t risk making any mistakes, but at the same time Google will know that it doesn’t have to keep that page in its index.
As you can see, depending on the case there may be different solutions. If you are not sure you have to delete your page, but you don’t know which is the best way to remove it from the Google index, you can contact our SEO Consulting service. We will be able to find the right solution for your case and help you put it into practice.
Delete a page in respect of SEO
If you really need to trash your page, you must proceed so as not to generate errors. In fact, it will be inevitable to cause 404 errors and break links. And if your page had inbound links from external sites besides yours, you cannot know how many links will break.
Google does not like “page not found” errors, so you need to provide them with the correct instructions to go to another destination, and for this they will be used to redirect 301.
Here’s how to proceed, step by step.
First, log in to the Google Search Console and go to the URL removal tool.
This tool allows you to remove a specific page from the Google index only temporarily, to be exact 90 days. But by starting to hide your URL, you will have plenty of time to proceed with the proper removal of your content.
From the URL removal tool, click on the button Temporarily hide and enter the URL of the page, then go to Keep on. At this point you will have to specify your request better: choose the item “Clear URL from cache and temporarily remove from search”.
Now you can safely delete the page in accordance with SEO, setting redirects to ensure that no errors are generated.
Set up a 301 redirect
Before definitively trashing your page, check what are the contents similar to it to which you could direct the traffic that would have instead reached the page to be deleted. Search for pages that address the same topic, or belong to the same category.
If nothing like this really exists, you could fall back into a 301 redirect towards your personalized 404 page, or create new content just for the occasion.
To manage redirects, I recommend the Redirection plugin, very simple to use. Just enter the URL of the page to be deleted, the URL of the page on which to drive traffic and you’re done.
Use error 410
Another system may be to take advantage of another type of error, the 410. The code 404 means that the page was not found, the URL does not lead to anything, “not found”.
Instead the code 410 specifically indicates that the resource is no longer available and will never be available again, it is “gone”, gone. Google will understand that that asset will need to be completely removed from the index.
To manage the 410 code, you can use the plugin 404page, which also has a function dedicated to this type of error.
Only use this system if you are super certain that you will never use that URL again in the future for your new content.
However, if you want to feel comfortable, taking advantage of the 301 redirect is fine in any case.
Now that you’ve seen how delete your page in respect of SEO, be aware that once the 90 days of temporary removal will expire, Google will scan your URL and find that the asset has been permanently removed.
There will be no errors in your Search Console and there will be no penalties of any kind.
What steps have you taken to delete your content without creating SEO errors?
Did you have any problems?
Tell us your experience in the comments.