Msg#: 3722752 posted 10:29 pm on Aug 17, 2008 (gmt 0)
If the pages have been moved/renamed, a 301 redirect is best. It will let SE's know the page, as it was, is no longer called what it was.
If the page has been deleted, a custom 404 error page is best. I usually put some text on it stating to the effect "Due to our redesign, the page or directory you are looking for has been moved, renamed or no longer exists. Please use the links below to continue your visit. You patience and understanding is greatly appreciated. Thank you, The Web Site's Name"
Then I basically put a human site map below the text. I find it works like a charm.
Msg#: 3722752 posted 1:57 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)
sandyk20 said: I have also read that, adding links to internal pages from a 404 page devalues those human links
Users appreciate seeing an intelligible page (rather than the generic Apache error-message page), and having links to major sections of one's site allow the user to quickly get back on track. And the existence of such a custom-designed page would appear to show care, not spamminess. It would seem to be a fairly stupid search-company that "penalized" a site that sensibly assisted its users.
If I may venture to suggest: For those who have some sort of "search" utility on your site, it might be helpful to include the "search" box on your 404 page.