Dealing with error pages that might keep Googlebot wondering what to do (and wasting Googlebot’s time is never a good idea for your site Google crawl rate) is a too often-discussed issue. That’s why we return to it again and again and again trying to share some tips and clarifications.
The problem is, we can’t do without them because error pages always pop up during the life of any website – it’s like some sort of an illness: all people get ill from time to time. And Google is often not very quick to figure the problem for the clear reason:
Google can never be sure you are serious about removing the page. Thus it will be trying to crawl it again and again in a hope you change your mind and get it back. This will take its time and probably will make it check fewer pages of your site.
There’s good news actually: you can make it easier for Google to understand you really want it to drop the page out and never waste time on it. Google’s John Mueller made a post on Google’s Help forum saying that in order to make the page drop faster and more permanent you can use 410 status code instead of 404:
we are now treating the 410 HTTP result code as a bit “more permanent” than a 404. So if you’re absolutely sure that a page no longer exists and will never exist again, using a 410 would likely be a good thing…
Hat tip to SERoundtable.com