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This question already has an answer here:

I want to redirect using 301 status some selected "purged" files which could be jpg/pdf/zip etc files to keep backlink juice when linked from external sites.

For a web page I redirect them using 301 to another "page-deleted.htm" page.

But what about the files? Should I redirect using 301 to another image/file or the same "page-deleted.htm" page?

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marked as duplicate by Zistoloen, John Conde Sep 24 '13 at 11:20

This question was marked as an exact duplicate of an existing question.

It's completely different though related. – AgA Sep 24 '13 at 11:16
No, it's not different. For your expired files, you must use a 410 HTTP status and not a 301 redirect. – Zistoloen Sep 24 '13 at 11:38
You ought to be using a 404 or 410 as indicated in your previous question here. – dan Sep 25 '13 at 7:26
@Zistoloen not necessarily documents, text documents and PDFs can perfectly refer to another document, think about guidelines for a site my.example.com that after a year refers to the guidelines at www.example.com – I.G. Pascual Sep 25 '13 at 7:30

A 404 page explaining the reason why the image could not be found seems like a good solution. 301 redirecting old images doesn't make sense (imagine someone finding a cached image of your site in Google Images, and when clicking finds that the image is a different one!). So redirecting to the new images for this purpose won't be helpful.

Google, at least, takes this problems into account giving the option to visit the page where the image was found, so if you're already redirecting this page, you're fine with SERPs.

Think about image sites, they rarely redirect images, the don't give a redirection for old images, only an image with an error text.

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What about any useful but expired pdf document? – AgA Sep 24 '13 at 11:19
When you say 'expired', do you mean that the file is no longer in the server, or the file is no longer useful? – I.G. Pascual Sep 24 '13 at 11:27
For example an job ad details in pdf are not available after job expiry. – AgA Sep 24 '13 at 11:32
Usually, those files can't be found after the page has expired, unless you have the cache of the page or a direct link. Google stores that cached page until it crawls the page again. So keep the link for a period of time, if you're concerned about those 404s (I would). After a week or so, you can delete those files – I.G. Pascual Sep 24 '13 at 11:37

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