Maintaining website status when removing or changing pages in the site

I have a website that has great search ratings(comes up on page one for some basic key word searches) and I now need to make some major changes to the site which include eliminating some pages that no longer apply and making some big text changes in others. I am linked to many sites some of which I don’t even know who they are, so I cannot redirect them individually. I do not want to loose my status so wondering if there is special coding I need to put in to redirect these links? Are there other things to do? Not sure how this actually works. I really am a novice. I have also not found dreamhost/wordpress to not be very friendly to novice website makers so even consider changing my host. Does this complicate the above situation even more?
Any advice would be much appreciated.

Also can’t seem to find the page on Dream host where they can tell me what my website traffic history is.

I assume you are primarily talking about moving content to different locations? The idea is that once content is up, you are supposed to support that URI forever. You can change the content, of course, but you shouldn’t change the URI because then the whole concept of the WWW breaks down. If you must move things, the you’ll need to support the old links with 301 redirects to the new location.

I think the larger part of the need in this case is how to redirect for a page that is no longer in existence, as text changes to pages still in existence will be picked up when the site is re-indexed.

301 re-directs would be great if there is applicable content replace the existing. In the case where the information is simply no longer applicable a custom 404 page “Oops, that page isn’t here anymore” followed with either some custom search results displayed on the 404 page, or at the very least a site search box. Make it easy for the user to continue on your site. If you know for a fact that one page or a group of pages are the source of your traffic from re-directs then either replace them with pages that give users the choice of where to go instead, or use 301 re-directs to send those specifics the the most logical destination.

Thanks bobocat and LakeRat!