Dumb SEO Questions

(Entry was posted by Cassy Richardson on this post in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Thursday, January 17, 2019).

Handling obsolete event-based pages


I have a question concerning maintenance & pruning content with a large site that has a ton of pages that are either expired OR reoccurring.

Firstly, there`s ~ 12, 000 pages on the site. They have large sections of the site that have individual landing pages for time-sensitive content, such as promotions and shows. They have TONS of shows every day, so the # of page to manage keeps exponentially increasing.

Show URLs:
- I`m auditing the show URLs and looking at pages that have backlinks. With those, I am redirecting to the main show pages.
-However, there are significant # of show URLs that are from a few years ago (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) that DON`T get traffic or have any backlinks (or ranking keywords). Can I delete these pages entirely from the site, or should I go through the process of 410-ing them (and then deleting? or ...?)? They are in the XML sitemap right now, so they get crawled, but are essentially useless, and I want to cut off the dead weight, but I`m worried about deleting a large # of pages from the site at once.

Promotional URLs:
- I`m going about the same process for promotions and thankfully, the scale of hte issue is much less. However, same question as above...they have some promotional URLs, like NYE Special Menu landing pages or Lent-Specials, etc, for each of their restaurants. These pages are only valid for a short amount of time each year, and otherwise, are obsolete. I want to reuse the pages each year, though, but don`t want them to just sit there in the XML sitemap. Is there ever an instance where I might want to 302 redirect them, and then remove the 302 for the short amount of time they are valid?

I`m not AS concerned about the recycled promotional URLs. There are much fewer URLs in this category. However, as you can probably tell, this large site has this problem of reoccurring content throughout, and I`d like to get a plan in place to clean it up and then create rules to maintain. Promotional URLs that reoccur are smaller, so if they are orphaned, not the end of the world, but there are thousands of show URLs with this issue, so I really need to determine the best play here.

Any help is MUCH appreciated!

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Selected answers from the Dumb SEO Questions G+ community.

  • Michael Martinez: If there is no historical interest or value in preserving the old data then removing the URLs from the XML sitemap(s) is the prudent first step. Deleting the pages should be fine, although with only 12, 000 URLs you have no reason to be concerned about wasted crawl. Google can easily fetch 12, 000 URLs in a day regardless of how current or useful they are. They would have crawl bandwidth to spare. For pages that are reused, I would prefer to keep them live and simply update the content to show something like, "So-and-so`s next performance is not yet scheduled". The thing is, if you keep telling Google to dump these URLs then you`ll make it harder to get them back into the index when they are needed. You don`t have a "too many URLs" problem. What problem are you actually trying to solve?
  • Michael Stricker: Sounds like this site features a lot of Quality Deserves Freshness content. Shows that have start times... run lengths... stars or hosts... if that is the case, then Google is likely to present the domain’s authority content URLs about these specialized topics for a brief time, during the run-up to broadcast or presentation, and for a week or two after, after which the info will be considered “dated”. Thereafter, if your site maintains authority for those subjects/shows/ episodes/actors, the page may rank for questions about details (think, bar bets) and for that purpose the pages will continue to attract a paper-thin audience from Search. With sufficient number of shows, this “long tail” can actually attract significant traffic, sometimes exceeding that of the most popular pages. At that point, internal linking to fresh programming, or relevance, or especially some form of conversion (subscribe to email news) becomes vital to the health of the site, to put that sparsely distributed traffic to work toward a business goal.

    If the domain is published by the creator or producer, then maintaining those old URLs May aid in perception by Google as the official site for such matter.

    Capitalize on this condition, by:

    Employing program Schema on details. That might earn some Featured Snippets.

    Have good images on those pages resulting from the programming? Then filename, ALT text and captions can help those assets live a second life in Image Search.

    Organize the page assets worth retaining. Titles with show dates, or dated URLs/Directories can help to archive... plus redirects. daily shows can be accumulated on weekly pages, weeklies by monthly pages, etc.

    If content is thin, consider amalgamating it into pages by Season or Year, with redirects from originals until crawled, then delete originals.

    Sometimes, all that is required to maintain “freshness” of dated or newsworthy material is to show community, logged-in individuals or stars leaving comments or quotations with citations. Similarly, fans’ User-Generated Content (fan fiction, accolades, criticism, renderings) can help sustain user and crawler interest and authority with only occasional authentic input.

    Making space for host or actor or director profiles can act as ego-bait and this earn a bit more reach to those agents’ own audiences, potentially links and almost certainly some sharing.

    As for reccurring...
    consider a “content retirement plan”. Maintain a current show page that declares structured data details even if the date is not yet announced. Promote that page and sitemap when significant info is added. Collect comments, photos, reviews for a couple of weeks after, then shift content to a long archive page detailing previous shows. Retain the ‘current show page’ with the basics: title, broad description, a bank of contextual links to past episodes, some ratings, plus the promise that the new episode will be announced there (give a date for the announcement if you can). Come back and add the new structured details to that page, solicit sharing and feedback, offer images or other assets to link. Rinse and repeat.

    Orphaned LPs aren’t doing you much good. Deep-six them, but take a minute to redirect any that have managed to attract links.

    Artist pages are like author profile pages... they can carry links to prior performance pages, brief bios, photos, quotations, links to artists’ social and site resources, accolades from press and public. If some effort is put into these pages, then it may inspire contributions and linking by the artist themselves. Just remember to remind them that you maintain this shrine to their greatness. And then, organize these pages into some kind of directory with its own nav to make it crawlable/accessible.

    Promotions lack any value, ongoing, unless you manage to collect inbound links to those values... then, create a past promotions page and redirect accordingly. You only need to refer to the kinds of promotions offered in the past, not specific deals, and instruct (link) readers to visit the show pages for details of current promotional offers.

    Hope that helps.
  • Jason Dolman: Another option is to add the noindex, follow meta robots tag to remove pages from the index.

    This is especially helpful if the page is useful to visitors (i.e. artist page still available for when the artist returns) but not so useful to Google (i.e. not trying to rank the page).

    We`ve used content pruning a few times with positive results and have even developed a content audit using GA, GSC, and ahrefs data to determine which pages should be optimized, which one should be left as is, which ones should be redirected, which ones should be deleted, and which ones should be removed from the index.

View original question in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Thursday, January 17, 2019).

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