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We're launching new website with new url structure and new content. Domain is the same. Many old pages are indexed by google. Should I use 404 or 301 and redirect to '/' for these old resources? I also want to remove these pages from google index.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Dec 13 '11 at 13:11

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Use HTTP 410 (Gone) for pages you'd like to stop from being indexed.

For changed URLs with the same content use HTTP 301 (Moved Permanently).

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It's impossible to redirect exactly to new url, all redirects need to point main site. 410 returns default browser error page I would like to redirect user to new location (based on 'location' header) – mm1 Dec 13 '11 at 12:26
Since the question is tagged google-index, I assumed it was about Google indexing your page... There's no "default browser error page" on Google. Maybe you'll need to base your HTTP response codes on the User-Agents? – Linus Kleen Dec 13 '11 at 12:29
giving different HTTP response codes to different User-Agents is a bad idea and opens you to Google thinking you look spammy. – joshuahedlund Dec 13 '11 at 17:37

If the content has moved permanently, then a 301 response is the correct thing to do (and point it to the new location, not a generic point); If the content has gone forever, you should use the 410 response which means "Gone". Of course, where there is an alternate, you can use a 303 response (along with the URL to the alternate) which can be worthwhile when there isn't an exact match.

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