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Google Search Console shows links from unknown and unavailable source

     
8:33 am on Jun 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I have been monitoring this since December 2016 and it was on and off, but since January 2017 it was pretty much constant, this is exactly when the message "Jan-22: Search Console performed and infrastructure update that may cause a change in your data" appeared.

I have started to see links to our site from sources like the following:
hol .es - 69,223
zzz .com.ua - 26,070
hys .cz - 11,929


Just to clarify, when I click to see the actual links to our site I see that there is only one page on our site that all 69,223 link instances point to, but the most interesting part of it all is that when I click on the url to see those links, what I see is the following:

6ya.hol .es/balalara-arnalan-kz-turali-nder-mp3-skachat-besplatno.php
Via this intermediate link: transportationinchina .org/url?q= erketai .kz/balalarga/balalar-olenderi/balalar-aitatin-olender/&sa=U&ved=0ahUKEwjkz7DOs87RAhXp1IMKHWgVA14QFgg4MAY&usg=AFQjCNHca71CRuIVHi2tz-6iAPR3GNEnDQ


As you will notice, not a single one of the links is actually point to the page in question. More to it most of this is either non-existent page or if I dig into the source code to find any instances of linking to our site, I cannot find any links whatsoever.

Just to clarify, I am not on wordpress and we have not been hacked, it looks to me that it is some kind of anomaly in GSC.

Any ideas or input to shed a light on this?

[edited by: goodroi at 1:29 pm (utc) on Jun 28, 2017]
[edit reason] Delinked spam urls [/edit]

2:04 pm on June 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The links could have existed at the time that googlebot crawled those pages, but when you looked they had already been removed.

Could be auto-generated spam
3:04 pm on June 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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You are right, it could be, but they are not, also, the link count goes up specifically from those domains almost on the weekly basis and all of them are either from non-existent domains or from non-existent pages via intermediate link that is not even on our domain.
3:53 pm on June 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I once saw 69,000 links from some unknown ".es" domain in GSC and when I tried to visit, it was closed. A search in several SE showed no results and WHOIS showed it as not active so I ignored it all as some opportunistic scraper. No harm was done other than the time I wasted to check it out.

Your mention of non-existent domains sounds like a redirect script such as might be auto-generated link spam used in a scheme to try to appear much larger and more 'valuable' than they are and though it is distressing to see, in the end it means little. Your links were likely added randomly from serps ranking for their targeted terms.

Might be one of the reasons that "backlinks" are not as uniformly significant as they once were, too many schemes out there unrelated to the links in them. Just my opinion, but I would not spend time trying to figure them out, Google is getting better at that all the time.
4:27 pm on June 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@not2easy, so you think that I should just leave it as it is and do nothing at all, let G take care of them all? Not even report those links or disavow them at least?
5:55 pm on June 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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This happens with everyone on GSC and can safely be ignored unless you have solid reason to believe it's an intentionally toxic link.

:: quick detour for current number, followed by wild panic as it claims to be unable to verify the site* ::

Even with legitimate links from actual sites, you can easily find numbers in the dozens or hundreds from a single one-time link. I blame the CMS--not yours, but theirs. Even the present site shows up as 43 links, and I don’t believe there are really that many different pages (Recent Posters, Most Frequent Posters, blahblah). Another one offers 3,137 links to 19 pages, for a ratio of about 150 to 1. Yeah, right. (Closer inspection reveals that it's very uneven. A single page claims to have 651 links--some of them obvious typos.)

Now, you did say you're WordPress. It doesn't hurt to see if you can prevent your content from being accessed in more than one way.


* It appears to be another version of entrapment. For reasons unknown, I have two different site verification files--both legitimately downloaded, by me, from Google, with copies stored on my HD. They asked for and obtained both--leading to the assertion that my site may have been hacked. Delete one of the two and we're good to go. On TV Tropes this would be filed under “What the Hell, Hero?”
7:02 pm on June 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I am not on wordpress actually, and all of the content can only be accessed in one way anything else is simply 301 redirected to the correct version.

Clearly it has something to do with other sites not ours. I only say yjis because I have spent considerable amount of time digging into this from various tools, but found nothing except probably one thing that majority of those sites are .ru, .ua and .es, which leads me to believe that someone really tried to do something suspicious.
9:01 pm on June 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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You have no control over the links. I would only worry about links that you control. Each of us makes decisions based on their own understandings and business model. One size doesn't fit all. I understand that some people run to disavow links even if they have no idea how they got there. I don't. Which road you take is up to you, just saying that I don't waste my time on junk links once I've determined they aren't real links.

Someone might have been trying to do something suspicious, I agree. It just looks more like it was something to benefit them, not trying to hurt your site. They would need to remain publicly available and not "via intermediate links" and redirects to do that.

9:20 pm on June 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Oftentimes these spammers will mix in some links to good websites along with their spam links. They do it to try to make everything look more legitimate.
9:47 am on June 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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For prevention, disavow file it's a good idea. Just in case. You have 0 benefit from those links after all, what are the risks for you of a disavow file?
11:16 am on June 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I do not think that there would be any risks at all, which is why I am thinking to disavow them all, i mean those that I think are suspicious. I have also compared my back link profile with other tools none of which reporting these links. So I guess I have some work to do to clean this mess.

Will report back if and when I see any changes.
12:59 pm on June 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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if I dig into the source code to find any instances of linking to our site, I cannot find any links whatsoever.

AlexB77 +
Since these backlinks no longer exist, why would you need to disavow them?
3:17 pm on July 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Just an update, this week links from this sources went from initial 220,000 to 478,816. After digging dipper I have discovered that most of the links point to a single page on our site and coming from various subdomains on hol.es, which is free hosting. What would you do in the situation like mine?
8:40 pm on July 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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AlexB77, I have the same issue as you: backlinks increasing every week and to the same 3 pages of my website. Some of the domains are even equal (hol.es, zzz.com.ua, hys.cz). Don't really know what to do with them either. Have you come to a conclusion?
8:52 pm on July 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Msr1987, i have stopped paying attention as it is pointless and will not change anything anyway. My traffic and rankings has not changed, if anything it is getting better and better, i am not really a fan of GSC and use it only for technical reasons rather than SEO or backlink profiling.
8:56 pm on July 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Well done AlexB77 you've made the right decision, concentrate on the things you can effect rather than chasing ghost links.