Unless you have advanced programming skills or a programmer standing by,
- Do not delete blog posts.
- Do not rename blog posts.
- Do not re-categorized blog posts.
Google and the other search engines have already indexed the post. It is possible that the blog post will appear in the search engine results pages (SERP) and that people will click on the link. They will be met with a 404 Not Found error page.
When visitors see the 404 Not Found page, they experience disappointment and a sense of failure because they did not find what they had expected, and they often internalize that to “I set the wrong expectations (I failed)”. The negative experience gets associated with your quality of work, and they think that they will have the same disappointing experience with you.
404 Not Found error pages make Google, Bing, and AOL cranky, and can affect your overall rank in their SERP. They, too, have expectations. They expect your post to be at a certain web address, and, once a post is removed, renamed, or re-categorized, the web address changes, nothing is found, generating a 404 Not Found.
How to Delete Blog Posts, How to Rename Blog Posts, How to Re-Categorize Blog Posts
If you must delete, rename, or re-categorize a blog post, do it with the cooperation of your programmer. Ask the programmer to write a 301 Redirect statement and give the programmer the new web address of the post. What’s a 301 Redirect statement? A 301 Redirect statement is a line of code that gets added to a system file. The line of code tells the browser that the post no longer exists in the original location and it redirects it to the new address.
Now, if you delete the blog post, there is no “new” address, so, you want to redirect to the most logically related post or page. If you re-categorize the blog post, the programmer (or you, if you have advanced programming skills) would redirect the address of the post when displaying by category, not the post’s web address. If you rename the post, no special thought or effort needs to be given, just use the new web address.
There are other ways to let browsers know that pages have moved or been removed, however, the 301 redirect method is recommended because it is universally understood.
If you are blogging using WordPress, this information is applicable to pages as well.