Dumb SEO Questions

(Entry was posted by Allison Belo on this post in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Wednesday, April 9, 2014).

I have a site that was hacked months ago.

I have a site that was hacked months ago, it has been cleaned and moved to a new server/hosting environment, my question is,   we are still showing 1000s of 404 errors in Webmaster tools associated with this event. What, if anything should/can I do about this? Is this hurting rankings, etc.?  Thank you for any advice.?

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YOUR ANSWERS

Selected answers from the Dumb SEO Questions G+ community.

  • Allison Belo: I have a site that was hacked months ago, it has been cleaned and moved to a new server/hosting environment, my question is, ; we are still showing 1000s of 404 errors in Webmaster tools associated with this event. What, if anything should/can I do about this? Is this hurting rankings, etc.? ; Thank you for any advice.
  • Collin Davis: Hey Allison, the first thing that I would do in such a scenario is set up a 404 tracking >>

    Once you do that, you will get some idea of the 404 errors that are driving traffic to your website. Tackle those first. If they are via referral traffic, then you are losing out on link value because your pages are dead links. Redirect them to a correct page to improve both user experience and to prevent users bouncing off.

    I would then say that download the latest reports based on reporting date starting with the 404's that have been discovered latest. See if you can see a pattern with them.

    A lot of time, subfolder URL's get added or deleted during migrations. Look through the URL's to see if that is the case and segregate them to make your job easier.

    Phase out the process, don't try to do everything all at once. Take about 100-200 pages and then work on the issues.

    You can also see where these 404 pages are linked from in Google Webmaster. So wherever they no longer exist, try removing the links from those pages. ;
  • Allison Belo: Thank you Collin, all of the links are associated with the site being hacked. The site was injected with completely unrelated product pages. None of these pages exist anymore, but are still showing up as 404 in Webmaster Tools. The referrer is no help, I have not gone through each and every one, but the ones I have all show each other as referring pages...

    for example if the 404 is it shows it was referred by .. then you go to that one and it has the other listed as the referrer etc.. just a big web of so called local pages.

    What I was looking to find out is whether I should be attempting to do something about this? Will it fix itself over time? Is it hurting rankings? Etc.
  • Collin Davis: Haven't found a correlation between 404's and rankings but in your scenario what I would suggest is that then start looking at the latest links that were crawled starting from the date you had the hack mechanism removed.

    If they were being crawled and indexed, then they definitely had to be linked from somewhere on the website.

    Leave the other ones before that alone. You could choose to no index them but that would be too much of a hassle.
  • Alan Renberger:  ;I only have a moment now, but there may be a couple of ways to look at it depending on the pings. ;

    1. It sounds like they are coming from offsite. ; I would look at the logs or, if wordpress, ; install something like wordfence. ; You may find that some of the worst offenders are coming from offshore and be able to block the ip's or ip range as a first step. ;

    2. ; If as you say some are local links and they are not being accessed externally then I would check your sitemap.xml and make sure the pages are not still listed, if they are you may need to regenerate the sitemap and have Google recrawl the sitemap. ; If the sitemap is clear your issues with 404 should clear over time.

    I will have to look further into the ranking issue as there are a couple of issues there, phantom traffic and low grade links to your site. ; To speak further on Colins comment it may be possible to download inbound, export and pivot to find the 20% that make up 80% of the major issues and focus on disavowing them. ; I have dealt with a couple of client sites with your issue and although it is a hassle, it is not unsurmountable.
  • Allison Belo: Thanks Alan, I just took a look at the sitemap.xml and its clean, only the actual site pages listed... maybe it is just a matter of waiting it out.
  • Edwin Jonk: From the expert panel in this weeks SEO Questions hangout on air on 00:57:36 into the YouTube video:

    The cuetimes listed on this page are functional while the live broadcast continues and also once Youtube has finished processing the public broadcast. Processing time varies between 6-24 hours. During this period the clip is viewable in full but the cuetimes cannot be relied on.

View original question in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Wednesday, April 9, 2014).

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