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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.
sandyk20 said: I have also read that, adding links to internal pages from a 404 page devalues those human links
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.