Website tidying decisions

March 30, 2011 | Filed under: business

When my site got hacked recently (bah…) I had to go through a lot of html checking it over. As I did this, I began to realise just how much of my site is effectively useless. I’ve been running it sicne 1997, so there is some crap there, like this early game or a whole bunch of ultra-low selling affiliate links. The affiliates sell very little, and I’ve handed over my ideas for an indie games website to showmethegames now, so they are redundant.

My first thought is to junk almost all of it, keepingĀ  just the sites for GSB, Kudos 1 & 2, Democracy 1 & 2 and Rock legend, maybe Starship Tycoon and planetary defence. I can just delete the rest, and have a tidy site.

My second thought is that this might be bad, from a search-engine optimisation POV. suddenly googlebot will see a whole bunch of dead links, will this affect my page rank? Should I do some clever htaccess crap? or is it just fine to junk it all and let my normal 404 to the homepage redirect handle it?

Does anyone have experience of tidying up a really old site? is it worth doing?

9 Responses to “Website tidying decisions”

  1. Ben Hymers says:

    I’d personally set up redirects to vaguely relevant pages. I’ve just transitioned from having a WordPress blog containing posts and some content pages, to separate websites for my blog, portfolio, and game. The old blog used to be at http://www.citiesinthesky.co.uk, which is where the game’s site is now at. I set up handlers for all the old urls pointing at that site, to redirect to either equivalent pages in the new blog, my portfolio, or relevant sections on the game website. I’ve not got any data to show that it was a good move, but from what I’ve read (and intuitively), it’s a good thing for SEO to have permanent and sensible 301 redirects in place rather than having dangling links or a generic homepage redirect.

  2. Scott says:

    I’d leave the pages in place so as not to break inbound links but remove the internal links from each one. Possibly you could add a note that the games are no longer supported and the pages have been disabled. I would not rely on 404 and would avoid 301 just because it’s annoying in case you get real visitors (not bots).

    FWIW Asteroid Miner/Star Miner is one of my all time favorite games, I’d leave that page in place… or maybe convert it into a flash advergame (hint hint) ;).

  3. Anthony says:

    Is there any need to junk the extra content? could you strip out most of the html but leave the basic content in tact?

  4. Meepmeepmeep says:

    You know, maybe you should ask the guy who runs textfiles about this. He has an active twitter account.

    (He’ll probably rip your head off verbally for even THINKING about committing a mini Geocities.)

  5. Polyergic says:

    When a page is removed, a subsequent request for that page should return 410 (Gone) not 404 (Not Found);

    Since old games are things someone might want to see, my inclination would be to make an archive section and keep them there, with minimal trappings, and 301 the original paths.

  6. CountVlad says:

    I personally can’t see the point of cleaning up your site, unless webspace is an issue for you. However, I do agree that you should take out the internal links and add a note saying that the game is no-longer supported.

  7. danimal says:

    Maybe check the traffic google sends to a page before deleting it. I’ve changed page urls before and hurt traffic from search engines bad even with a redirect.

  8. Chris McLaren says:

    You can either create a 301 that informs search engines/bots/browsers the page has been relocated, OR you can create a 404 that informs the user that the page has been relocated. But there’s no easy way to do both. With a custom 404 you could have a search function that allows the user to at least search what they have entered the site for.

    As danimal said it’s best to check the traffic on that page. If there is little traffic then just a simple redirect.

  9. D. Moonfire says:

    I’m guilty of changing website links and I’m pretty sure that I get dinged for it. I would consider changing your old games to a redirect to a game graveyard site (these games are no longer supported…). Google and other bots are used to using redirects to maintain old sites, I don’t think you’ll be dinged for those.

    You could also start filtering out the old ones by setting up your robots.txt file to skip the links you want to get rid of, watching incoming links of course, and then phase it out when the links are no longer used. You’ll still miss a few people following a decade old link, but hopefully those would be limited.