Hello! I have been reading through this forum and I haven't come across the answer to my dilema, but I apologize in advance if it has been answered already.
The company I work for had a website and an online shop as two different subdirectories of the same domain. I've combined everything into one because the previous set up had TWO pages for each product line creating a duplicate content nightmare. It's been fixed for a while now and I had set up manual redirects for as many pages as possible, but now my webmaster tools account is showing around 800 not found errors. Some of these are for urls so old they actually predate this recent restructuring. (The entire site has maybe 1,000-1,500 pages total).
As I work with the new site going forward, pages get moved, renamed and deleted. I'm not sure how to keep track of making sure the redirects are going to the correct and live pages. I can do it manually, but it will take lots of time. I don't mind doing that if it's worth it. It seems to me that if we have that many pages changing maybe I should just let them return a 404 and let them drop out of google (and you know those other search engines on their own. But how long does it take before google sees a 404 and realizes this page is gone? Like, for good? I have all these ancient pages sitting there in google returning a 404 error and I don't know if I should create 301 redirects to current pages.
We never had very high organic rankings on most pages. There are a few pages that rank well and I think the logical thing to do would be to 301 redirect those ones and main category pages. Also, we've never done any link building so there are not a whole lot of inbound links to the site. The ones I've seen in webmaster tools are from weird directories that I doubt would do us any good anyway because they are not in our industry. I'd rather them not link to us at all.
Does anyone have any thoughts regarding this? Much appreciated!