Recently a number of pages that we didn't want crawled were removed. Specifically they were 403'ed (pages were inactivated in drupal which auto-results in a 403 and I confirmed this with a header test).
Now I know normally, when you want to ax pages...you should 404...but I want to keep these pages as an internal reference, so that's why I just de-activitated them which resulted in 403's instead of 404's.
My question is this a bad thing for SEO?
I recently received a warning in WMT that:
"Google detected a significant increase in the number of URLs we were blocked from crawling due to authorization permission errors."
And these are all the pages I just 403'ed. Is this a cause for concern? Do I HAVE to switch these to 404's to avoid trouble?