I have a site on which, when a content page gets marked as deleted, a 302 redirect to the homepage is performed.
www.mysite.com/page/3424/my-slug 302 redirects to
www.mysite.com if that page gets removed.
This is how I bought the site. I would like to issue 404s instead of those redirects, as I don't see how that indicates to search engines that the page was removed.
The problem is that most of the site's traffic (around 115k visitors/day) is from search engines, so I don't want to break anything by doing this. What is the expected SE behavior if I do 404s instead of 302s, from your experience?
Note that a lot of pages will get affected, there is content being removed and added daily.