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Many pages that have been deleted for a long time are still appearing in Google? When I then click on them, they obviously can't be found. Am I doing something wrong/forgetting something?

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You should designate a 410 HTTP Status Code (GONE).

The requested resource is no longer available at the server and no forwarding address is known. This condition is expected to be considered permanent. Clients with link editing capabilities SHOULD delete references to the Request-URI after user approval.

If the server does not know, or has no facility to determine, whether or not the condition is permanent, the status code 404 Not Found SHOULD be used instead. This response is cacheable unless indicated otherwise.

The 410 response is primarily intended to assist the task of web maintenance by notifying the recipient that the resource is intentionally unavailable and that the server owners desire that remote links to that resource be removed.

Such an event is common for limited-time, promotional services and for resources belonging to individuals no longer working at the server's site. It is not necessary to mark all permanently unavailable resources as "gone" or to keep the mark for any length of time -- that is left to the discretion of the server owner.

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Define "a long time".

Make sure you are sending out a 404 HTTP header as that is what they need to know a page is deleted. If you're doing that they will get around to removing them. If they are deep inner pages they are probably crawled less frequently so it will take a little longer to find they are gone and remove them from their index.

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410 is the most appropriate status code to return in this case –  Bobby Jack May 29 '11 at 22:54
    
How they are handled by the search engines is identical –  John Conde May 29 '11 at 23:35
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