I have a domain which I bought in 2013 and stopped working on it in 2015. I recently started to work on it again. The website had around 150 articles which I deleted a long time ago.

While none of the old pages are indexed in Google (or other search engines) a lot of websites and forums have linked back to my articles previously which now returns 404 when someone visits using those backlinks link. The website had a good backlink profile and still has some.

So, I wanted to know if redirecting those 404 pages to homepage using 301 permanent redirect is a good idea or not?

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1 Answer 1


It is a bad idea to 301 deleted article links to your home page, both from UX and SEO perspectives. A 301 redirect says "the content you are looking for is here", so if you redirect to your homepage where the original content is not actually there, you are breaking the semantics of the 301 status code.

Not only does it break HTTP semantics, but it also creates a worse user experience. A user clicking through to a nonexistant article will just get your home page and be confused instead of being notified that what they were looking for no longer exists. This confusion is compounded if the user opens the link in a new tab to view a couple minutes later - they will open the tab, wonder why they are on the home page of some random site, and then close the tab.

Finally from the search engine perspective, they will immediately pick up that you are misusing the 301 status code due to all articles being redirected to the same URL with the same content (the home page). This throws a wrench in the link-juice transfer, because the search engine notices that the article's redirect target is one-size-fits-all instead of tailored for every individual article like a 301 setup semantically requires.

The best course of action at this point is to develop a rich 404 page (or 410 if you wanna go needlessly hardcore) that notifies the user that the content is gone, but also suggests other relevant content for the user right on the 404 page itself.

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