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How-to 7 min read August 8, 2019

How to remove empty pages on the site

If you found empty pages that are not effective anymore, you need to remove them. Why? Because your site is not a storage for useless data that is not helpful neither for search engine nor for users.
An empty page is the one that has no content. If your website contains many such pages, you may lose your rank position.

There are a few reasons that lead to empty pages. The most common example is the following: the content was removed but someone forgot to delete a page at the same time. Also, plugins generate numerous pages, and in some complex cases, they may create empty ones.

How to find empty pages?

To find empty pages, go to Serpstat Site Audit and launch scanning.
Site audit on Serpstat
After it is finished, go to "Low word count" section.
Empty pages on the site
To remove the detected page, you have several options. Let's get a detailed look at each one.
#1

Remove from Admin Dashboard (Error 404)

Many CMS dashboards allow you to remove empty pages. Once you press "Remove" button in one of them, the system adds a special error code to the server response.

Whenever a user opens this page, let's say from Bookmarks, he gets Error 404. Take a look at the page shown below:
Error 404 page example
When a search bot tries to scan this URL, it won't finish the task and will get Error 404 too. In a few days, if the page still returns the same code, it will be removed from indexation. So, this process is very easy; only a few clicks are enough. However, it requires some time to lose the traces among search results.

If you want to remove 404 pages from search results quickly, use a special Google tool. It allows removing pages immediately from Google search. You may find the detailed steps about how to use it in the official help guide.
#2

301-Redirect

This method redirects a user to the working page once he visits an empty one.

This task is rather complicated one. The webmaster needs to know the algorithm for a certain CMS. As an example, here are the steps that allow 301-Redirect adjusting for WordPress sites. First, get to the root of the site and find .htaccess file. Then, add one of the following codes:
1
The simplest and easy-to-use option:

Redirect 301 /your-page-1/ http://site.ca/your-page-2/
2
More extended version:

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} ^/your-page-1/$
RewriteRule ^.*$ http://site.ca/ your-page-2/? [R=301,L]
Thanks to 301-Redirect, you can show another page to the users. It is better to redirect visitors to the home page or the page in the same category. The biggest advantage is that the page will be re-indexed faster then when you use Error 404. Once a bot sees the changes, they will be applied.

If there is 301-Redirect, all users who had this URL added to tabs will go to the final page, while the link juice of the page is taken into account too. A bot will go to the redirected page and will perceive it as the previous one.
#3

Manual deletion

You can remove a page with the help of Google Search Console tool. However, this method allows you to delete a page from search results but not to remove it completely. So, you may combine this method with the first or second option described above.

Google Search Console

Go to the old version of Search Console, choose your website and choose Google Index section. Click Remove URLs:
Remove URLs in Google Search Console
Click "Temporarily hide button" in the window that will be opened and enter the page URL you need to remove:
How to remove URL from Google index using Search Console
This method was mentioned above. It helps to fix Errors 404 that appear when you delete a page using CMS dashboard. However, you can use this option as your step number one as well.

What you should take into account

  • Changing a webpage address procedure.

Each page has a unique address — URL. That is why if you change the page's name, you will change a URL too. But this method is not the best one to choose. It won't help you removing trash pages but will lead to the new ones.

  • Many 404-code server-side response pages is the bad grade.

If you have a lot of empty pages, do not delete them using Error 404 only. Search engines do not like sites with numerous 404 pages. It may influence your rank, and it may be hard to go back to your previous positions.

As a bottom line: it is better not to delete an empty page but adjust 301-Redirect and lead users to the home page.

Conclusion

Pages without content reduce your search positions. There are a few reasons that lead to empty pages:

  • content is removed, but the page is not;
  • the URL has changed;
  • link to file is broken (the file name has changed);
  • the native plugin generates links automatically.

How to find empty pages?

Go to Site Audit in Serpstat and scan your website. You will get the needed info in "Low word count" section. Once you get the list of empty pages, carve out time to remove them all.

There are a few methods that may help you:

  • use the dashboard for manual removal;
  • adjust 301-Redirect;
  • remove the empty pages with the help of Google Search Console.

The best option for the following website ranking procedures is to use 301-Redirect. Your search ranking positions will be saved. Please, also note that consoles do not remove a page! They just allow you to hide it from the search bots.

If you need to remove a lot of empty pages, Error 404 method will be an irrational way to solve the problem because the website rank position could take a hit.

This article is a part of Serpstat's Checklist tool
Checklist at Serpstat
Checklist is a ready-to-do list that helps to keep reporting of the work progress on a specific project. The tool contains templates with an extensive list of project development parameters where you can also add your own items and plans.
Try Checklist now

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