The latest question is in regards to removing a large number of pages that will never return to the website, and whether a 404 or a 410 response is better.
I have a large site and removed lots of irrelevant pages for good. Should I return 404 or 410? What’s better for my “crawl budget”? (more from the depths of my inbox)
It is an interesting question since the majority of webmasters tend to simply remove the pages completely, and let the server go the 404 route, or route it to a custom 404 page to help lead customers to another piece of content on the site. But with technical SEO becoming more popular, questions about server response codes have been coming up more frequently.
Here is Mueller’s response (typos corrected) on when webmasters should use them, how it affects Googlebot’s crawl rate and what happens to those pages in the future, even with a 404 or a 410.
The 410 (“Gone”) HTTP result code is a clearer sign that these pages are gone for good, and generally Google will drop those pages from the index a tiny bit faster. However, 404 vs 410 doesn’t affect the recrawl rate: we’ll still occasionally check to see if these pages are still gone, especially when we spot a new link to them.
In practice, I doubt you’ll see a noticeable difference at all between 404 and 410, so while it’s great to use 410 in situations where you’re sure, with regards to Google search, it’s not worth spending too much time on that decision or on its implementation.
So this is another case where many are probably over thinking the choice, so if you don’t have the need to be technically perfect, either will work in the eyes of Google.
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