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If it's an SE or other bot give it a 404 or 410 (Gone).
If it's a human give it a redirect to a relevant page (home if there isn't one). That way you keep the customer on your site.
I have two options:
- redirect the url to the homepage.
- redirect the url to the 404 error page.
Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content or URLs to users and search engines. Serving up different results based on user-agent may cause your site to be perceived as deceptive and removed from the Google index.
Some examples of cloaking include:
Serving a page of HTML text to search engines, while showing a page of images or Flash to users.
Serving different content to search engines than to users.
There is no such thing as white hat cloaking...
If this means serving a different response depending on who requested the page, then this is not a good idea.
You could argue that you're doing this every time you serve up a custom error page. The robot merely records the fact of the 4xx. The human sees the content of the error page.