We have once discussed a related questions of how to get rid of tons of expired pages and the only conclusion we have arrived at is that there is nothing easy in that question.
A recent WebmasterWorld thread is discussing a similar but even more complex question: "How to get rid of user-generated pages that expire daily."
It is quite clear why this problem desperately needs a solution:
- Google crawls on a budget: hundreds of low-quality pages will take its time preventing it from looking for other (more important) pages;
- Too many pages with almost no content and outdated data will result in wasted link juice;
- Users taken to those pages will see outdated information which will result in bad user experience.
Still, those pages are not useless at all as users link to them (when for example announcing the upcoming event on their own sites).
So what’s the solution?
Using 301 redirect
This is the most obvious solution as it saves the link juice. But redirect where?
- Setting up a separate page that would say something like "That page you attempted to enter has expired so keep looking" seems to be against user experience.
- Redirecting to some dynamic page (search results) that might be similar to what that expired page was about may end up in those dynamic pages getting indexed which may seem strange and even spammy to Google.
Note that Google has made it clear that they don’t want to see search results indexed in their search results – so I would not suggest going in that direction for your expired content. Offering a lot of urls that are only dynamically generated search results based on the referer could result in penalties after a while.
Using 404 Page
Here’s another solution offered at the thread: let hose pages return 404 response code and et Google figure the situation by itself:
…it’s very likely that the backlinks you are concerned about will begin to lose power quite quickly, even if the webmaster leaves them online after the expiration date. So "squeezing too hard" on the potential link juice is probably not a worthwhile prospect.
So what would be your take?