404s are feared by SEOs. And some even go too far to make too much fuss about it.
404 is a return code which tell search engines that page doesn’t exist. The simple rule is that if you delete content from your website you should return 404.
If you don’t know how to do it then better just delete the content and rest should be either taken care by your web host default 404 page or by your CMS.
Problem starts when some 404 experts try to make 404 return to be too fancy by create a 404 page, adding some content or redirecting this page to another page. In this process they might miss to return 404 code. If Google or any other search engine are not able to resolve the return code then it might lead to chaos.
Google Webmaster Central blog has publish a new post – Do 404s hurt my site?
This is really an awesome post which I’ve been always looking for. I knew all of the explanation already so it didn’t give me any new information but helped to understand 404s in better way.