To Redirect, or To NoIndex, that is the question...
October 12, 2015 4:15 PM   Subscribe

I have a Wordpress blog, and I want to get rid of a large number (200+) of old, junky blog posts. They're clogging up my archives and search results, they get virtually no traffic, and they're poorly done and embarrassing. There is no question they need to go. The question is, should I delete and redirect them, or just noindex them?

Do not be fooled by my casual use of "redirect" and "noindex" above--I am moderately blog-savvy but don't have deep SEO or technical knowledge--mostly just a bit gleaned here and there from reading articles.

My original intention was to delete and redirect them. I have already put the 301 redirects in the htaccess file and deleted a few of them, just to make sure it works. (I am just redirecting them back to the blog's home page.) But I got to wondering if it was a problem to have more than 200 redirects in my htaccess file. Is this bad, server- or speed-wise? Any other reasons why this is a terrible idea? I am mostly drawn to this method because a) it will be nice to have the posts completely gone b) I've already done the work of compiling the list of URLs etc and c) it's pretty fast to go back and batch-delete them now.

If I were to NoIndex them, I think I would have to edit each post individually as opposed to doing a batch, so it would be a lot more time consuming. And I'd be doing it through the Yoast plug-in, so there's always a chance that if there is a problem with the plug-in in the future, this issue will not be resolved and I'd have to address it again. I'm also not sure if there are SEO benefits to deleting/redirecting over noindexing, or if it's a wash.

My priority is to do what is best for my site in the long run, with particular concern for any server impact and SEO results. Given these concerns, what would be the best way to take care of these old posts?
posted by Bella Sebastian to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If they're not getting any traffic, then SEO is not affected much, and redirecting would only be for indexers. I would simply unpublish them in WordPress. Indexers will get a 404 (probably -- sometimes WordPress likes to try to figure out where a 404 page is supposed to go and substitute something else), which is the correct message.

Unpublishing means they will still be in your control panel but visible only to you; to test their visibility, you'll have to try to view the URLs in incognito mode or while logged out of WordPress.
posted by Mo Nickels at 4:35 PM on October 12, 2015

I took my blog from over 5000 posts down to about 400 and just didn't worry about the deleted pages. I figured Google would figure it out eventually and take them out of the index.
posted by COD at 5:31 PM on October 12, 2015

Unless you're on a tiny crap shared hosting service and your blog is already intolerably slow, 200 redirects in your .htaccess is nothing.
posted by russm at 6:49 PM on October 12, 2015

Thanks all. Russm, I'm on a great cloud hosting plan, and my site is pretty speedy after a lot of back-end work (which is one reason I'm paranoid about doing anything that might mess with the speed!) so I'm glad to hear that 200 is no big deal.

My understanding from reading SEO articles is that having a large number of 404s on your site is a big negative when it comes to search engine rankings, so just unpublishing/deleting is not appealing to me.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 8:41 PM on October 12, 2015

You don't even need to delete the old posts if you're redirecting - those directives in the .htaccess are parsed during URL resolution before Apache even tries to find the content to serve. So you can leave the old posts present and drop in a .htaccess with all your redirects as a test, and the content should be masked away behind the redirect. If there are any problems just remove the .htaccess and everything will be back as it was.
posted by russm at 9:04 PM on October 12, 2015

[Sorry to threadsit but...] The reason I was planning on deleting is that they're still showing up in search results and category archive pages on my site. When they're clicked on they go to the home page, but I'd rather they not show up in search at all. (Which is why deindexing is the other option I was considering.) Unless there's something I'm missing?
posted by Bella Sebastian at 9:11 PM on October 12, 2015

Ah, yeah, I didn't think of that. I was only considering external (i.e. Google) indexing.
posted by russm at 9:48 PM on October 12, 2015

I would cast a vote for deletion. Save an export of your database (or maybe find a plugin to export them in nice, readable HTML in case you ever want to search or peruse them) and then delete delete delete. You will feel so refreshed.
posted by Zephyrial at 10:32 AM on October 13, 2015

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