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Is Deleting the target page on your site the same as link removal?
SEOPanda




msg:4568335
 8:41 pm on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

We've been dealing with a bunch of spam over the last year, and even received an unnatural link warning.

The disavow and reconsideration process takes a long time. If we remove the page on our site that had a bunch of spam pointed to it, is this essentially the same as removing all of the backlinks pointing to it?

Since all of that spam will be pointing to a 404, essentially we're removing those links, right?

Thanks for your thoughts.

 

tedster




msg:4568363
 10:32 pm on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Theoretically this sounds right - so much so that others have done it. The problem is that none of them have reported regaining rankings. Possible issues I can see:

1. Once Google has identified bad backlinks they want the webmaster to go through "due diligence" on a clean-up.

2. By deleting a page you might sacrifice the target page for other links that were helping you, or you might be breaking the circulation of PR within your website.

taberstruths




msg:4568368
 10:45 pm on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

I did something similar, by no-indexing the offending pages and moving them to a subdomain and providing a canonical url. So far, I have seen a partial recovery.

aristotle




msg:4568370
 10:49 pm on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Once Google has identified bad backlinks they want the webmaster to go through "due diligence" on a clean-up.

Well I don't understand this at all. What makes Google think they have a right to tell anyone to "clean up" anything? If they want something cleaned up, they can start with their search results.

petehall




msg:4568375
 11:01 pm on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Or 301 that page to someone you don't like? I'm still amazed off site factors have such impact. Totally amazed!

TheOptimizationIdiot




msg:4568377
 11:10 pm on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Once Google has identified bad backlinks they want the webmaster to go through "due diligence" on a clean-up.

Well I don't understand this at all.

LMAO! Me either, but my first thought when I read tedster's post wasn't any where near as "tame" as yours. The first thought I had was: "Well, they can lick my **** if that's what they want people to do."

As far as the question goes, I'd use a custom 410 for that page specifically rather than 404 and I'd also noindex,nofollow it so the inbound weight didn't "go anywhere".

Basically, I'd change that specific page to serve a 410 Gone error, noindex,nofollow it and provide links to other resources for visitors if they happen to land there. (Also make sure you get it totally unlinked internally if you decide to go that direction.)

tedster




msg:4568379
 11:31 pm on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

What makes Google think they have a right to tell anyone to "clean up" anything?

Hey, it's their search results and they have every right to say "this is what it takes to be up there in our results." Just another sign that, today at least, no one can feel that they "deserve" anything at all from Google. That's just the lay of the land, even though it is wildly different than it was just a few years ago.

aristotle




msg:4568383
 11:55 pm on Apr 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

1. Well they act like they own the internet.

2. I don't personally feel that I "deserve" anything from Google, but I do feel that the world deserves something, namely an effort to provide objective and honest search results.

3. They can say whatever they want about their "guidelines", but I'm going to design my sites the way I want to design them, and hell will freeze over before I spend any of my time trying to get backlinks removed.

SEOPanda




msg:4568387
 12:31 am on Apr 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

taberstruths - why would you noindex it and then canonical it, you're giving google the hint that the value should be going to your good URL... doesn't seem to make sense.

tedster - after our spam attack, the page I want to 404 stopped ranking completely... I think 404'ing it would be the best bet, as it's likely only spreading negative seo value around the site.

what are your thoughts on that?

TheOptimizationIdiot




msg:4568392
 1:14 am on Apr 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hey, it's their search results and they have every right to say "this is what it takes to be up there in our results." Just another sign that, today at least, no one can feel that they "deserve" anything at all from Google.

Absolutely!

And, I'd highlight the "today at least" portion, because they keep "pushing the peasants around" and if we look back through history, pushing the peasants too hard usually backfires.

They might not be there yet due to their market share, but they're definitely getting a little bit too pushy imo, and if they go too far, well, history repeats itself.

thms




msg:4568612
 1:23 am on Apr 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

I posted a question similar to this one on march 25th, I have a small website less than 70 pages or so, and I had a page with lots of unnatural links pointing to it. Around march 27th I removed the page and served a 410 header. So far I have not reused the content using a different URL.

On april 06th my site traffic increased by more than 15%. This is the first time I saw a significant increase since this site got hit by panda 2 years ago and lost about 50% of its traffic. But not sure if this traffic gain is because I removed the page...

taberstruths




msg:4568627
 2:59 am on Apr 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

SEO Panda. The theory is that penalties would not flow through a page that is not in the index. How can it be link manipulation when links are pointed to a page that you have removed from their index. Anyways, I am not sure it is a correct theory but it has worked so far.

TheOptimizationIdiot




msg:4568628
 3:05 am on Apr 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

The theory is that penalties would not flow through a page that is not in the index.

Not sure where that theory came from, but it's incorrect.

How can it be link manipulation when links are pointed to a page that you have removed from their index.

Because pages "noindexed" still pass link weight, but pages that are removed from a site (no longer exist) via 404 Not Found or 410 Gone and do not link to other pages do not.

That's why I recommended a custom 410 Gone page with noindex,nofollow and relevant links for visitors who happen to find the page.

taberstruths




msg:4568647
 4:43 am on Apr 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

TOI, after doing some research it seems you are right that a no-index page will pass page rank, but I am not sure it passes a penalty. All I can say is that it worked and within 2 weeks I received a 15% increase maybe 20% in traffic.

taberstruths




msg:4568648
 4:49 am on Apr 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Besides I think the penalty I was suffering from was an anchor text penalty. Now there is just 1 bare link pointing to the new page, plus whatever new links accrue.

TheOptimizationIdiot




msg:4568650
 5:48 am on Apr 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

All I can say is that it worked and within 2 weeks I received a 15% increase maybe 20% in traffic.

Penalties do not seem to pass immediately, but wait a couple/few months and my [educated] guess is if you haven't stopped the links from passing weight to your site via nofollow (or actually found and fixed the issue) you'll be in the same boat as those who have "recovered" from Panda/Penguin using 301 redirects. (Meaning, it's a temporary solution to a more permanent problem, which is not solved by redirects.)

Way better, imo, to stop the issue at the source, meaning if inbound links are the issue, making sure they don't "pass weight" to the site by using nofollow is a better long-term solution than putting a band-aid on the problem.

taberstruths




msg:4568694
 2:23 pm on Apr 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

TOI, if I was under a manual penalty or had a spammy link profile, I would agree although I believe that the farther removed you are from the spammy links the less effect they have. However neither of those things were the case. Matt Cutts personally told me that it was algorithmic. My best guess was that it was for too many exact match anchor text links to that page. By no-indexing the page in question, and just providing 1 bare canonical link to the new page, I changed the anchor text link profile of the page.

Is this wrong?

jlnaman




msg:4568715
 4:31 pm on Apr 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Is a 410 (gone) better, same, or worse than a 404 of the "deleted" page

TheOptimizationIdiot




msg:4568728
 5:20 pm on Apr 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Is this wrong?

I haven't tested your what you're doing as a solution, so the best answer I have is: Time will tell.

I have heard where people thought they could recover from a Panda/Penguin hit by 301ing to to a different domain and using the same content only to find out later they just "ran through" another domain, because the original domain wasn't the reason they got hit, so moving didn't fix the issue and they ended up in the same place again. (IOW: There is something one of the animals doesn't like about the site, so moving it doesn't fix the issue, because the name of the domain wasn't the problem in the first place.)

If you drop again, maybe try removing the page. (That said, you don't need to physically remove what you have on the page right now, just change the header served when it's requested via PHP or another server-side language, noindex,nofollow it and it'll be "gone" even though you still have the link to the new location for visitors.)

Obviously you're not 301ing, so it'll be interesting to see if your solution works permanently or if it gets hit again when the algo "catches up" with it.

Is a 410 (gone) better, same, or worse than a 404 of the "deleted" page

Over time they seem to be treated about the same, but initially a 410 Gone will be dropped from the index sooner and not re-requested as often.

petehall




msg:4568738
 7:17 pm on Apr 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have heard where people thought they could recover from a Panda/Penguin hit by 301ing to to a different domain and using the same content only to find out later they just "ran through" another domain, because the original domain wasn't the reason they got hit, so moving didn't fix the issue and they ended up in the same place again.


Which means its possible to build a total spam site to try and get every penalty under the sun, then 301 it at your competitors most searched term. I think the off site penalties have to end. Discount the links but do not penalise as it's ridiculous! This is much like the war on illegal drugs and they will never stop it. And, as far as I am aware there is no way you can pass on a Panda penalty but obviously if you used the same content the penalty would eventually catch up... as that's what they are looking to penalise.

@TOI have you had much experience with Penguin penalties? I believe they are keyword and page specific, so the penalty doesn't affect the rest of the site anyway. In other words the damage is very localised and will not spread.

TheOptimizationIdiot




msg:4569149
 2:32 am on Apr 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

@TOI have you had much experience with Penguin penalties? I believe they are keyword and page specific, so the penalty doesn't affect the rest of the site anyway. In other words the damage is very localised and will not spread.

Not a ton, but based on what I know what you're saying may be the case in some (many?) situations but in some it could be more widespread. That's all the details I have for right now. (I'm a bit detailed out today, but forgot to get back to you earlier on this one and figured I would at least not leave you hangin.)

aakk9999




msg:4569844
 12:11 am on May 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

@TOI
As far as the question goes, I'd use a custom 410 for that page specifically rather than 404 and I'd also noindex,nofollow it so the inbound weight didn't "go anywhere".

Why would you add noindex,nofollow to a page that responds with 410 Gone? If the response is 410, the HTML content is irellevant to bots. The virtue of 410 will stop inbound weight going anywhere.

TheOptimizationIdiot




msg:4569849
 12:17 am on May 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

If the response is 410, the HTML content is irellevant to bots.

Well, you would think it would be, but there have been occasions where Google has indexed 404 pages, including their content, so I try to "err or the side of caution" and make sure they "get what I mean" without any question when I remove a page.

Also, the content of a page, even 410 Gone, is not irrelevant to search engines. I don't remember where I read (or heard) it (could have been a video), but it was from an "official source" and was something about them evaluating error pages for user experience and a custom error page that provides relevant links is a "good sign" to Google at least.

Thinking those error pages, 404, 403, 410, etc. "just don't count" and a SE will not ever take into account what's displayed is a bad move, imo. My personal opinion is: Providing a good visitor experience with a custom error page and relevant links (if possible and "important" links if not) while making sure search engines "get the point" the page is not there for them and not intended to manipulate anything is a much better route.

And, thinking they "don't know" what's on an error page isn't a good idea, because to "not know" they have to use a HEAD request rather than a GET, but you won't see HEAD requests from gBot (or bBot) in your logs, because when they request a page (URL), they use GET and they GET the whole page (URL) just like a visitor would, so they know exactly what's on it, regardless of status code served in response to the request.

Lastly, if what you're saying is correct and I'm not, then the noindex,nofollow on the page does no harm at all, so why not "err on the side of caution" and include it?

jlnaman




msg:4570004
 11:32 am on May 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thank you T.O.I. I have learned a lot from the 410 discussion. Never thought about error page links. Makes sense.

TheOptimizationIdiot




msg:4570066
 4:05 pm on May 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

NP, Cool to know it's been helpful.

SEOPanda




msg:4570419
 5:24 pm on May 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

So what's the consensus? :) Seems that this topic kind of went all over the place.

Do we agree that while a 404 isn't as good as removing the backlinks, it's a good approach?

Thanks

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