Does Removing Pages from a Website Improve SEO?

Once you start measuring your website traffic, you can see which pages perform well. That always makes you happy. But you can also see which pages are getting zero hits – meaning no one has clicked on them for one reason or another. Some reasons may be that no one can find that page through Google searches, or it’s not accessible from any page within your website.

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Google executive John Mueller regularly meets with web developers to talk about SEO. A few years ago, he was asked this question:

“Can it help SEO by reducing web pages by marking our product pages no index, which have almost zero impressions in the last 16 months.

Currently 10 to 15% pages are like this and they’re just dead weight on our site.

I was wondering that after no indexing such pages we will submit fewer pages to Google in the sitemap and Google could focus on the rest of our site better.”


His response was this:

“It’s something that I know some sites do.

I think it is not a totally unreasonable approach to say that the pages that nobody cares about I essentially removed from my website.

But it’s something where I wouldn’t just blindly do this.

So if you’re just blindly focusing on the number of impressions that you have for individual products and you drop them from search then it’s very easy to drop things that are actually useful but they’re just not that common.”


Here’s what he is saying in everyday language. It depends on why a page isn’t performing and you need to measure if it’s working. 

So you’ll be left with a few questions: Do I leave that page up? Do I delete it? Or do I rewrite it so it has better search engine optimization (SEO)?

Your decision may improve your rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). In this article, we will delve into the potential impact of removing pages on website SEO.


SEO Golden Rule: Quality over Quantity

The first issue when deciding if you should get rid of pages is the quality of content. Search engines, particularly Google, prioritize content relevance and quality over sheer quantity. If a website has numerous pages that are short, or multiple pages on the site that contain the same words, they’ll rank the site lower overall. So removing them may have a positive impact on SEO. A unique, more focused website can signal to search engines that the remaining content is of higher quality. Google says it ranks websites high that demonstrate “Expertise, Experience, Authority, and Trustworthiness.” That is EEAT. 


John suggested that you really think about why a page isn’t high quality.

“It might be that maybe it’s an archived version of a product or page where people after a certain period of time need to go back there to find instructions for repairing this product or they want to look up historical information about this item.

And that’s not something that happens every day. So if you just purely look at the number of impressions and it’s easy to accidentally include a lot of things that are actually still useful for the web, they’re just not that commonly used.

On the other hand looking at the number of impressions and the types of pages that you have on your website, that can give you a little bit of a better understanding of which types of pages are more important for users.

And that can either guide you to saying, well this type of page is something that maybe I don’t want to provide anymore or perhaps it can guide you into saying, well this type of page is currently not seen as being that useful.”


Better Crawl Budget

Search engines give a crawl budget to each website. LIke a monetary budget, this is how Google and Bing decided how often to spend time looking at and indexing pages. Large websites with an excessive number of pages, especially low-quality ones, are wasting their budget on useless pages. By removing unnecessary pages, a website can make better use of its crawl budget.


According to John, if you are going to remove pages, remove enough to make a difference. He said:

“With regards to just having fewer pages and those fewer pages then ranking higher, I don’t see that happening so much. It can help for a very large website to reduce the number of pages that they provide just purely from a technical point of view and that if we can crawl 1/10th of the pages on a website and it’s a lot easier for us to pick up those 1/10th of those pages a lot faster.

That can in turn help us to figure out well maybe these are the pages that are really important for the website. But if you’re just dropping a handful of pages here and there, I don’t think it changes anything for crawling and probably not much for the website in search overall.”


Better User Experience

People want to find what they need fast on a website. They don’t want to hunt through dozens or hundreds of pages. A streamlined website with fewer pages can contribute to an improved user experience. This is a crucial factor in what search engines look for. They want users to be happy and satisfied. This has a great impact on your business too. A well-organized and user-friendly site can lead to increased engagement, lower bounce rates, and higher user satisfaction – all of which are metrics that search engines consider when ranking pages. They also factor into what websites people buy stuff from.

improving user experience


Improved Sense  of Authority

Removing pages can also improve the authoritative voice of a website. If you hit a smaller number of pages out of the ballpark, Google and Bing will recognize that. So do a bombastic job on fewer pages and you’ll have increased SERP. 


301 Redirects and 404 Errors

Here’s one thing to keep in mind. If you remove a page from your own website, you need to make sure it’s not linked to another page on your site. If it is, and someone clicks on that link, they’ll get a 404 error. Google doesn’t like these. So what you need to do is embed 301 redirects from removed pages to relevant, existing pages. This takes time and some people have trouble doing it on their own. That’s why so many people turn to companies like SEO Design Chicago to handle 301 redirects. Proper redirection ensures that users and search engines are happy.

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Monitoring and Analysis

After removing pages, continuous monitoring and analysis are critical. You want to make sure that changes in organic traffic, rankings, and user behavior are improving, not getting worse. And if you see that things are going in a positive direction, you may want to remove more pages. In order to monitor traffic and behavior and rankings, you need to install Google Analytics 4 onto your website. That can be tricky for non tech people, so we can handle the installation for you at SEO Design Chicago. We can also explain the reports to you until you get the hang of it. 


Another Option: Improving the Content

If a page isn’t ranking, or it’s not getting any hits, you may want to rewrite it, and restructure it. We often do this on our own site. We add better keywords, make sure we’re using header tags, and optimizing images. 


John suggested this too. He said, 

“For informational content it might be useful to see if new techniques, technology, or jargon has changed. Not all informational content is evergreen. If it can be improved then that’s definitely a good thing to consider doing.

Maybe if I significantly improved it, it would be different. And that’s also something where you don’t just go and… blindly look at the number of impressions but rather you have to make a judgment call and look at that and see does it make sense to.. remove this?

Does it make sense to improve it?

And a lot of times it does make sense to improve things on the web.”

Another popular service we offer at SEO Design Chicago is content creation. We provide companies with well structured web pages that include keyword research, hyperlinks and more. 

Rather than deleting pages, you may want to reach out to us to talk about this option. 

Reach out to us as SEO Design Chicago for a free on page SEO analysis. If we decide to dig deeper into your site, we’ll tell you which pages might be good to remove from your site, or if certain pages should be rewritten instead. We can consult you on the right approach.

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