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Is a penalty applied for bad links to you?
Can a third party cause you to be penalized?

5+ Year Member

Msg#: 3149810 posted 7:43 am on Nov 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you look at the diagnostics section in Wemasters tools you find the section Diagnostic Summary. And in that section there is a status box that shows URLs not found.

That status box apparently shows one how Google saw the web site at one time and not how the web page actually exists on your server. It does not show reality but history as seen by Google.

But apparently it also is the current evaluation of your site by Google.

In response to a query as to why Xenu showed my site with 6 broken links and Webmaster tools over 600 broken links, “Google Employee” on the Wemaster Groups forum said

“The "not found" errors show any URL that we found during crawling and could not access. Some of these may be links on your site, but it's likely that some are from other sites that are linking to pages on your site that do not exist or have been removed. Also, if a page is removed after we have crawled it at least once, it will show up as "not found when we try to re-crawl it.”

So it appears that Google credits you with broken links in a third party site. And by extension, Google credits you with a broken link if the third party site makes a link to a page that never existed on your site.

One webmaster replied to my query

“Are broken third party links to me affecting my position and causing things like the -30 penalty to be applied?”

by charitably saying:

“It doesn't take a brain surgeon to work that one out does it? You have a page that is in the top ten results for a certain search, you remove it, hey presto you've lost the position”

Suppose your competitor sets up pages and generates hundreds of links to your domain but to never having existed pages.

It would appear that Google Employee’s response above says that you would be credited with all these broken links even though you never had these pages in your domain.

Would all these broken links cause you to be classified as a “404” site and be penalized as the webmaster said above?

Would all these broken links cause you to get a –30 penalty?

Does this give your competitors a weapon against you or you a weapon against them?



5+ Year Member

Msg#: 3149810 posted 9:50 am on Nov 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

So you have over 600 pages that google thinks exist because someone else says they do?

Why not give them what they want and put a page there, and thank your competitor for deep linking to your site. You could even just set those pages up as a 301 redirect to a different actual page.

Quickly download those error pages before they dissapear from your webmaster console.


WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 3149810 posted 10:09 am on Nov 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google does have a habit of registering ghost pages; if your site is www.domain.com, and someone (possibly you) have a link to domain.com, then Google may register that page ... hence the supplementary listings.

Google sitemaps data often flags up 'errors' for you to deal with which include old incominglinks to pages you no longer have.

And there's others. But the question is, can these 'pages' pages harm you? Specifically, can a third party harm you?

And in general, it's a clear "no". Those particular links may or may not produce supplementary listings, or upset Google's analytical programs, or lead to 404s. But they they will not have any effect on the rest of your site.

Matt Cutts has said links to your site will never hurt you, unless part of an exchange scheme (words to similar effect).

So, theoretically, if you have been a little careless with your outgoing links, a third party could manufacture incoming links to game Google into seeing a network that is not of your doing.

But the work involved in setting it up would be huge, and you'd have to have made some pretty silly links to provide the foundation. But if you have a dangerously obsessive rival and are generous with links ... it's not impossible.


10+ Year Member

Msg#: 3149810 posted 1:09 pm on Nov 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

you should what out for links into pages that don't exist on your site.
You might find it is Ass Hat webmasters doing this to reduce your rankings


WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 3149810 posted 2:18 pm on Nov 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts has said links to your site will never hurt you, unless part of an exchange scheme (words to similar effect).

I have had sites affected by links from other sites and sent all the data to Google's Spam team over and over and over and never have had a reply.

Maybe I will tackle Matt at WebmasterWorld next week. :-)



5+ Year Member

Msg#: 3149810 posted 2:21 pm on Nov 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

Just wish to offer my bodyguard services to Matt... hehe


5+ Year Member

Msg#: 3149810 posted 9:37 pm on Nov 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm glad I'm not-as-well-spottable as Matt :P

But yeah, Matt's comments still stand. We are acutely aware of the (sometimes brutally) competitive landscape, and design our site assessments to consider and discount "dirty pool" tactics of the sort you're highlighting.

Such tactics are increasingly rare, though, from what we can tell. For some reason, nasty competitors are loathe to accidentally give others MORE PageRank (e.g., they know that dirty tactics can sometimes pretty humorously backfire).

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