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Redirecting lost link juice after large site has been hacked
realmaverick




msg:4597794
 8:09 pm on Jul 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

I ran a large successful website that had tens of thousands of inbound links, but it was unfortunately hacked to the nth degree. Backups the lot. It took us a long time to get back online, as it was an extremely bespoke community.

Anyway, we're back and of course, the 40,000 daily visitors are no more and we're pretty much starting from scratch. However I'd like to, if possible, reclaim some of the link juice.

I've redirected many old pages to new but there are some scenarios that I'm not sure on the best action.

There are some pages, that had thousands of inbound links and we currently have nowhere to send them. I am guessing it's best to just wait until their is a relevant place to direct them?

Also we had a sub domain that we used, that received quite a lot of links and we're not bringing the sub domain back. I've redirected it to the top level, but the inner pages of the sub domain all still return a 404. I didn't want to go crazy and redirect an entire sub domain to my www. homepage. That would be a bad move, right? Any other way of redirecting that link juice?

Any advice at this point would be great.

Thanks a lot.

 

JD_Toims




msg:4597877
 12:56 am on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

I am guessing it's best to just wait until their is a relevant place to direct them?

I think if I knew the topic of where the links are currently pointed I would personally consider redirecting to a noindexed "[topic] coming soon -- brief explanation of what happened -- links to key pages on the site" page and then get some information up about the topic ASAP so the links don't keep getting removed like they probably would as people "house clean" if they continue to 404.

ADDED: I just though of this, but rather than serving a 200 OK on the "[topic] coming soon -- brief explanation of what happened -- links to key pages on the site" page I might consider using a 503 Service Unavailable status code with a Retry-After so it doesn't look like you're "gaming" the search engines or "your site is 404ed" to those with links on theirs to you.

I wouldn't put 503 on the page at all if I did it. I'd just serve it in the header -- likely via PHP -- and have it be a custom 503 error page for each specific topic being redirected.

That would be a bad move, right?

Yes, definitely.

Any other way of redirecting that link juice?

Not that I can think of unless you can find a similar resource on the site. I think on this one I would try to "capture the visitors" through a custom 404 page that gives "key links" to the main site and then try to figure out how to redirect key pages (lots of links) topically.

Planet13




msg:4597884
 1:31 am on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

I am a little bit confused about this:

"There are some pages, that had thousands of inbound links and we currently have nowhere to send them."

What happened to the original content that had attracted all those links?

Did you not get a chance to recreate those pages?

Or were these hacked pages that people were linking too?

Sorry, it's late in the afternoon and I am confused easily.

If there is a page that you don't have a replacement for (or won't be making a replacement for) let it return a 404 and just have a really helpful not found page (with a clear structure to help people find what they are looking for).

But I would hope that if you had really popular pages that they can be reconstructed in some way.

(Also, don't just 301 redirect a bunch of pages to one main page...)

JD_Toims




msg:4597891
 1:40 am on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Here's the thread on what happened (sad story): [webmasterworld.com...]

TL;DR = Nothing left. The hacker(s) deleted the whole thing, including the backups.

JD_Toims




msg:4597902
 2:49 am on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

I should probably add I think I would personally "push the limits" a bit in this type of situation, because there's really nothing to lose.

Also, after thinking about it some more I think I would go with a 301 redirect of the old pages to a custom (dynamically topical) php page and serve a 503 Service Unavailable with a Retry-After header via the php and base the Retry on how long I thought it would take to get to a specific "section" and have topical content available.

realmaverick




msg:4597971
 10:08 am on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

What happened to the original content that had attracted all those links?


I guess the hacker was somebody who really wanted us out of the game. They deleted all of our servers, they then ran programs to destroy any chance of data recovery and then they accessed our apparently secure backup servers and deleted a year of backups.

There was hundreds if not thousands of TB of data, so there was no local backup unfortunately.

Did you not get a chance to recreate those pages?


No all of them unfortunately, actually very few thus far. It's taken 9 months of solid work to get the site rebuilt from the ground up, but we've gone live and fortunately the users love it. I would say the site is now the best of its kind but of course, whether we can convince Google of that is something different entirely.

There were literally hundreds of thousands of pages of content. Many of the pages will be recreated and at that point we will do a 301. However, the subdomain internal pages wont ever be recreated but have several thousand links going to them, they will however have a 404 page that we can make as attractive and helpful as possible.

@JD_Toims, I just noticed you'd posted the link, thanks. Thanks also for your suggests, some good thoughts.

realmaverick




msg:4597983
 11:45 am on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Of course, I also need to think about building new links. One thought I had was, approaching bloggers to tell our story. But I don't really know of any business type websites that might be interested.

Another is that the platform we're using is quite famous and we've done a really good job at showing whats possible with it. Which could help generate some chatter.

Planet13




msg:4598124
 4:43 pm on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

OK, this is probably the first thing you thought of, but for the sake of being stupidly obvious (and for the sake of trying to help in ANY way I can), is any of it archived in the wayback machine / internet archive machine?

(I warned you this was a stupidly obvious suggestion on my part.)

Also, and this is another one of those "that is so stupid it might just work" suggestions, with all the scrapers around, is it possible that your old content might be on some scraper site somewhere? Maybe you can re-scrape it?

realmaverick




msg:4598140
 5:34 pm on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi P13, thanks for your suggestions. Much of the content is scraped and lots on WBM etc. But a lot of it was beyond just text. For example we had a page that contained 12 icon packs that I'd created and they wont be easy to recreate. But I guess there will be other instances where we can do that.

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