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Broken links from old domain redirected to new domain

     
5:03 pm on Aug 13, 2019 (gmt 0)

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An ecom client redirected their old domain to a new one.

Looks like they created a copy of all pages on their new domain, and then redirected each old page to its new copy.

Problem is, they don't stock all the same products on their new site, so many of the old product pages are redirected to 404 page on the new site.

So they have hundreds of broken links from their old domain.

Should I disavow these links? Leave them be?

Thanks!
5:53 pm on Aug 13, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Do you have access to the old domain or is it simply on a url forward to the new site thus generating the 404s for the non-existent products now?
5:59 pm on Aug 13, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It isn't clear from your post what your relationship is to the site, and where the links fit in. If the pages don't exist, what is there to disavow?

If your post had ended with the sentence about 404 pages, I would have recommended serving a 410 at the original site. This will also let search engines concentrate their crawl budget on pages that actually exist and not bother following red-herring redirects.

Here's a timely comparison: Back at the end of 2013, I moved 6/8 of my site to a new domain, and redirected all affected URLs. Over the years, as I continued tweaking the new domain, I always updated redirects in both places, so requests for example.old/old-url would be sent straight to example.new/new-url instead of a two-step process involving example.new/old-url. And then, finally, this past June--this is now five and a half years after redirection began--I said: ### it. There are no human links or bookmarks after all this time; it's just search engines picking up redirects. So I replaced all of them with a single comprehensive 410 (which, incidentally, resulted in the old site's htaccess being reduced to 1/3 its former size). Now, a month and a half later, requests for moved directories have fallen away to almost zero. Gosh, it feels satisfying.
8:35 pm on Aug 13, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Redbar

We no longer have access to edit the old site. I believe it was a "url forward" to the new site.

@Lucy24

How can I set the old URLs to 410 if I have no access to edit the old site? Or did you mean set the new pages that are 404ing to 410? I only have access to the new pages. We went from Magento to Shopify.

In Ahrefs, we have hundreds of broken links from the old domain showing up, all of them pointing toward 404 pages.

Do you think this will just resolve when Google crawls and finds the pages 404d?
9:22 pm on Aug 13, 2019 (gmt 0)

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We no longer have access to edit the old site. I believe it was a "url forward" to the new site.

do you still own the legacy domain?

How can I set the old URLs to 410 if I have no access to edit the old site?

if you still own the domain, point it to a lightweight server that sends only 301 and 4xx responses.
12:10 am on Aug 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like access to half of the problem, unfortunately the wrong half.

Old site is gone, right?

If so all those hits are coming from bots and bad serps.

404 is perfectly valid if page is not found. 410 also works ... for bots. HOWEVER, it is unlikely any humans have been damaged/confused so I would not lose a lot of sleep.

I understand why SEs keep trying old links ... but at some point (like 5+ years later) you'd think they'd get it!

Spot check the ips getting 404s ... I will bet the majority are search engines/bots---and they don't count in the real world of serving the user.

Let 404 do what it is supposed to do.
4:44 am on Aug 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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There is nothing wrong with a 404. It just means that the page is gone. Google doesn't care.

Just make sure to set up a custom 404 that will suggest a way for the user to navigate or search for a better product.
3:08 pm on Aug 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@phranque I believe the client still owns the domain :) I will see, although it appears based on other responses that the 404s are not a big problem.

@tangor @martinibuster

Thanks you two! I figured the links from old domain to a 404 would not be problematic since Gary Ilyes said Google ignores links to 404s. Just wanted to make sure since there so many broken links that look like this.
4:51 pm on Aug 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Tangential query: If it is found that many of a site's links lead to 404s, will this eventually make the linking site look bad and cause its links-in-general to carry less weight?
7:13 pm on Aug 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Everything depends on numbers. That said, site owners should inspect their out links from time to time and clean up anything that goes 404/410. Even so, the link itself (as a 404) should carry ZERO weight against the site MAKING the link.

Interesting question.
 

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