I see small business owners from time to time who publish a blog post and decide they don’t want that blog post on their blog and delete it. Are you aware of the perception that is leaving about your blog when you do that? Every time it happens you create a new 404 page. Delete several dozen or a couple hundred blog posts over the course of a year or so and you could have a serious reputation problem.
A 404 error page is the page that is returned when someone clicks a link to a page that no longer exists. The web browser goes looking for that page and since it isn’t there, the browser can’t find it. In lieu of the page, the browser searches for a 404 error page and delivers that instead.
Why would this happen when you delete a blog post? Because the blog post has already been published and when you publish a blog post there are several things that happen. First, your blog platform sends out a ping to several ping services letting them know the blog has been updated. Each of those pings is a link back to your blog. Your RSS feed delivers the blog post to all subscribers. The search engines crawl your blog again and index the web page. Any directory that you have submitted your blog to lists your latest post.
As you can see, the blog post, once published, has been distributed. To delete it now would be like showing up at every subscriber’s house who has subscribed to your print magazine and destroying the print issue right in their hands. How many of those subscribers do you think are going to keep subscribing?
If you make a mistake on a blog post, a better solution is to strike through the error and correct it just like you would with a pencil on a piece of paper. Or, if you don’t want that blog post accessed by anyone any more, use your .htaccess file to redirect that page to another page on your blog. Don’t delete it, just redirect it. You’ll look more professional and have fewer frustrated readers.