I Want To Delete My Discussion Forum: Should I 404 It?

Jun 20, 2013 • 8:58 am | comments (35) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization

forumIn December 2005, about 7.5 years ago, I started a forum on this site. Truth is, today, I barely spend time there. I make it incredibly hard to sign up, I barely ever respond to posts and very few pieces of content there is useful or new.

It is a pain to maintain and I want to get rid of it.

If I'd follow my own advice on 404ing vs 301ing, I should 404 the whole forum and get rid of it that way. Of course, there are those who say you can get some link passing benefit if you 301 the whole thing to your home page or page explaining why the forum is no longer.

What do you think I should do? I have some options:

(1) 404 the whole thing and forget it (leaning towards this)
(2) 301 it to the home page, i.e. www.seroundtable.com
(3) 301 it to a page with resources on other forums, which an explanation of why the forum is no longer
(4) Just leave it there to be abused by spammers.

Which would you do? Please comment below.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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Sachin B

06/20/2013 01:05 pm

You should put 301 redirect, and write a message about forums or You can write a message about status of forum in same url

Praveen Sharma

06/20/2013 01:06 pm

Going for 301 to homepage is not a good option according to me, as you will not only redirect link benefits but also spam backlinks and some low quality UGC issues related to that forum (if they are there). I would recommend, go for 404 or 301 to a specific page - 3rd option. :)


06/20/2013 01:19 pm

You are the walking encyclopedia Barry Schwartz, you know it better anyways. You have over 500 domains linking to your forum. Do you want to kill them all?


06/20/2013 01:22 pm

You are the walking encyclopedia Barry Schwartz, you know it better anyways. You have over 500 domains linking to your forum. Do you want to kill them all??

Andy Kinsey

06/20/2013 01:28 pm

301 to a landing page / subdomain - check what the results are in 3/6 months and then choose your path from that point. Alternatively check pages with good links only and 301 those to relevant content, 404 others

Sunny Kumar Ujjawal

06/20/2013 01:28 pm

Keep it live..just disable all new posts, registrations or comments on it.

Michael Martinez

06/20/2013 01:36 pm

Forget the link-passing benefit. Do anyone who follows those links a favor and redirect the forum to a page that explains what happened.


06/20/2013 01:36 pm

410: gone

Barry Schwartz

06/20/2013 01:37 pm

Like I said, do I take my own advice. :)


06/20/2013 01:39 pm

1 or 3 - 2 isn't worthwhile

Michael Martinez

06/20/2013 01:40 pm

I have always felt that if you delete significant content from a Website you should tell visitors what happened to it. If you feel that so many redirects are risky in SEO then use 302 status codes (technically, you could do a 404 status code on a redirect if you wished -- I don't know what a search engine would make of that).


06/20/2013 01:41 pm

3 imho

Martin Oxby

06/20/2013 01:41 pm

Take your own advice and redirect it to explain, I wouldn't want to lose traffic regardless of ranking value and a 404 would lose you traffic.


06/20/2013 01:47 pm

I would say 3, but 1 at a push. Definitely not either of the others. Leaving a list of resources and an explanation would be much more beneficial, especially to regular users. At a push, you could just enact the highest post count posters as moderators and leave them to do the dirty work for you. That way, 4 becomes feasible but without the spam abuse.


06/20/2013 01:49 pm

404 the thing to be safe about it. It isn't something you use or want, so just get rid of the thing in my opinion. Maybe make the 404 page cute/funny and leave it at that.


06/20/2013 01:49 pm

301 it to your Facebook page.

Federico Sasso

06/20/2013 02:27 pm

option 2 (301 to HP) would be interpreted by G as a soft 404, according to a recent statement by JohnMu. I would go the 1 route, or 3 if keen to work more.


06/20/2013 02:27 pm


Stephen Slater

06/20/2013 02:33 pm

Option 3. I think this is the most user friendly option.The page you create could also have a link to social media discussions that you monitor.


06/20/2013 02:36 pm

option 3, but google anyway can find a way how to penalize any website. It like stalin repressions.


06/20/2013 02:39 pm

In case if you have got good visits on your forum then keep your forum as it is just remove login functionality so that you can get rid of headache of maintaining your forum. OR if visitors are less then just make your entire forum 410... why should any one worry about worthless piece of website?


06/20/2013 02:40 pm

None of the above. 404 and make a specific 404 explaining you no longer have a forum, put a link to the home and suggest some other forums for the reader. And if any of post is REALLY useful, create a blog post of it and 301.


06/20/2013 04:47 pm

Having a forum would give you an extra point. You have something that your competitors may not have it. This forum might be the reason you're doing this good at this point of time. In my opinion, the best is to keep the forum and just disable additional comments or posts. So, people still would have access to the available resources and it would be a nice archive in a sense.

Josh Zehtabchi

06/20/2013 05:35 pm

Agreed 100%.


06/20/2013 06:40 pm

I'd go for 3

Puneet Sharma

06/20/2013 07:15 pm

I'll go for 3rd option which seems best according to me...:)


06/20/2013 07:21 pm

404 is sorta like blowing the damn thing up and then leaving a crater where it once was so people can trip into it. Putting a sign in the crater is useless.... Now if you bulldoze it and tell people no one wanted to live there and you didn't really care for it. That's probably better. So....number 3


06/20/2013 07:29 pm

So basically, do you want a be a a lazy webmaster or a responsible webmaster?

Bruce Brownlee

06/20/2013 08:50 pm

Use #3 and then build a campaign on your shutdown. Put up 10 reasons you closed it on List.ly, write a fun-bait blog post on "the mysterious missing forum" with words like "ghost town" and related pictures that Digg and Stumble will like, and build out your resources page with a CTA for signups or a Paypal contribution to the Rusty Brick retirement fund. Then you build a "Best of" with 20 of the most entertaining discussion threads and monetize that piece as well. With as much stuff as you have, you could probably put out one a month for a year.

Michael Cropper

06/20/2013 09:22 pm

Depending on the current traffic levels and traffic sources, I would either 301 it to to the homepage, or the new page if there is non-search traffic arriving on the current pages. 301s all the time :-)

Nick Pateman

06/21/2013 06:04 am

None of the above; I'd archive the whole thing and orphan the section from the site while including navigation for users to easily explore SER. - A 301 will pass rank in the short term, but it will just drop off completely after a few months. - A 404 will have no benefit whatsoever (again, pages will drop off from G in a few months). - Recreating posts as blog pages on the site and 301ing is a very good idea, but not particularly realistic on a large scale; especially given that forum posts would need rewriting to some extent.

Brijesh Bhalodia

06/21/2013 06:39 am

Don't do anything from above. Please find some aspirant marketer and SEOs and make them admin to moderate the content. Forums is great sources of experience. Look how popular Moz's QA. I want you to let forum run. I am sure there are so many people who want and be able to help you.

Rob Abdul

06/21/2013 11:30 am

(5) Remove the ability to add new comments and let is exist. The forum has a nostalgic value to it.


06/21/2013 12:44 pm

My answer sucks, this answer is better.

Spook SEO

01/24/2014 08:17 am

Yup it is difficult to go to your forum and comment it on regular basis. It is very hard to maintain it. Barry there are numerous ways to get rid of it but I recommend you to hire a moderator. The moderator will comment on your behalf so your issue is totally finished going to your forum.

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