A lot of landing pages expire every day when outdated information becomes obsolete, products are sold out, services are discontinued and entire communities sunset. How that expiring content is being handled from an SEO perspective can greatly impact the organic search rankings of websites. If its handling is floundered, SEO landing pages with expired content have the potential to kill the organic rankings of the website overall.
PageRank vs. user signals
A frequently mentioned argument made by website owners for maintaining landing pages with expired content, especially sold-out products, is to preserve incoming external PageRank to the website. It is a false assumption that a landing page must be maintained as indexable and by returning a 200 OK status code, even when a product or service isn’t available to users any longer in order to keep whatever authority or PageRank that same landing page has accumulated over time. Doing so effectively means creating a soft 404 landing page. A soft 404 is an error page with no relevant content which continuously returns a 200 OK status code instead of a 404 or 410 status code.
For a number of reasons, that strategy is a recipe for disaster. Firstly, the conversion rate rather than presumed PageRank accumulation ought to be the primary goal of a commercial website. After all, no publisher cares for their PageRank value, high or low, as long as conversions meet or exceed expectations. Secondly, PageRank can not be gauged by any degree...
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