You may wonder if a no more present article in your blog, may be because trashed, should result in a 404 page or in a 301 to another page (may be the home page).
The answer is a 404 page. Or better a 404 HTTP response with, eventually, an alternative content.
404 means: no more present.
301 means: wrong address the new one is…
Once upon a time there was a technique to rank a site very high creating a lot of low rank pages. Then, suddenly, respond for those pages with a 301 to the home page of the same site. The small rank of all those pages summed up and was assigned to the home page which was able to escalate the SERP.
Of course it was a black hat SEO technique which does not work anymore… or probably help Google (and other search engine) in identify scam sites and ban them.
Hence, redirect no more present posts to the home page is not a good idea. Even if there are more than one article stating that.
A search engine needs to classify information, index it and give relevant result. If an article, already analyzed and indexed disappear, there nothing better for a search engine to be informed of that.
This way it can remove it from the index. Search engines hate to give results which do not bring the user to a relevant content.
Responding with 301 on a missing posts we are saying: hey, search engine, the content you already indexed has been moved (for whatever reason). Here is when you’ll find it. The home page.
The home page. The search engine won’t take too much to find out that the new post address does not contain the original content (or at least a similar content)… and it can take other decisions than just ignore the 301.
It’s up on you.
Probably yes. If I remeber well Google requires a 404 or a 410. Usually WordPress uses the 404 so I was referring to that, but with a simple plugin I think the 404 can me changed to a 410.
wouldn’t a 410 “gone” status code be even better than 404?