Can't Remove Bad Links? Last Resort, 404 The Web Page

Sep 7, 2012 • 8:02 am | comments (16) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

GWT ChainThe topic isn't new, we actually covered it a couple months ago under the title Want To Disavow Links In Google Now? 404 The Target Page. But I write so much here that I am sure many of you missed it. Since John Mueller at Google said it again in a new Google Webmaster Help thread, I thought I'd cover the topic again.

When you have tried and tried and tried to get bad links pointing to your site removed and have failed and failed time and time again, then as a last resort, if you can, you should 404 the page with the bad links pointing towards it. Now this is not always possible, sometimes the bad links are pointed to your home page, but when not and when it is pointed to a specific section or specific web page(s) of your site, just 404 the page and eventually, Google will stop counting those links (good and bad) towards that page.

John said:

In particular, if links to a specific page are causing a problem for your site (regardless of how), then removing those links is generally the best solution. If you absolutely can't remove those problematic links and if you're certain that the page itself is otherwise not that relevant for the rest of your site, then removing the page that's being linked to (returning 404/410) will also help us to drop the links to that page. Obviously, this is not a perfect situation (you wouldn't want to remove an important page unless it's really necessary), so I'd recommend really taking steps to make sure that this is really the source of the problem.

Again, this is very similar to what he said back a few months ago.

Extreme circumstances require extreme measures?

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: September 6, 2012


Wolf Dalone

09/07/2012 01:29 pm

This is such a joke! WebMasters should remove links pointing at their site... link they cannot control. And if they fail at doing Google's job, they should just f'in kill themselves with a 404 or a 410 just to be sure it's more... permanent. Only Google could come up with BS like this. And whoever buys it...

Ian Scott

09/07/2012 01:35 pm

" I'd recommend really taking steps to make sure that this is really the source of the problem." And how exactly does one do that?

Ian Scott

09/07/2012 01:39 pm

I agree. Google is acting more and more like the old fashioned headmaster carrying a strap, ready to dish it out to whoever they please.. and don't you dare question the punishment! "Figure out what you did wrong on your own!"


09/07/2012 01:41 pm

If GOOGLE can identify which links are BAD and which ones are GOOD for a website, why can't it just provide a "Disavow Links" function to Webmasters to make their task easier, rather than suggesting them to remove pages from their sites.


09/07/2012 01:45 pm

If you would'nt know that this response comes from a multi billiion dollar business that is up and running since over a decade and employing brigades of highly intelligent harvard and yale graduates, you would think its a 1990's self-programmed service running by some kid from the basement.

Wolf Dalone

09/07/2012 01:46 pm

They can and they do. They just use FUD to scare people into burning their own/others' link networks. They throw in uncertainty and let webmasters out(rat) each other. Divide and conquer! And makes their jobs easier to terminate domain-wide link networks.


09/08/2012 01:02 am

quite frankly Google is just being recalcitrant. This can all be fixed at their end but they choose not to fix it. Probably because this fix doesn't add anything to their bottom line.

Webstats Art

09/08/2012 07:42 am

Divide and Conquer. That is what they are doing but if everyone being divided gets together, then they have a massive opponent.

Scam Cutts

09/09/2012 03:05 am

Don't be stupid to do what Google tells you. People have been doing everything since Panda with almost zero results. They are doing this to jerk people around and to blame their penalty on link or whatever and to give losers false hope. The reality of Panda and Penguin is that Google wants to push Adwords so they are penalizing small businesses to force them to advertise. Google earnings go up a lot after every update. Matt Cutts is a paid liar and Danny Sullivan is a Google $hill.


09/10/2012 01:37 pm

100% agreed with your statement. Build your own brand dont build Google's brand by following their misleading info.


09/11/2012 02:06 pm

I'm so glad to see that so many people agree with me after all this time. Google is an arrogant company favoring corporations and forcing people to buy more Adwords by ditching their organic listing by whatever means possible. If Google knows what bad links are and where they come from it's their job to clean it up. It's an impossible job for small business web masters to be chasing ghosts all day which may or may not even matter. Thousands of small businesses are barely getting by thanks to their meddling and all these meetings and comments by Matt Cutts and his team are nothing but and ass covering job and good will tour to make tit seem as if they care and they're trying to be open. they're not. They're trying to remake the web as they want it to be in total disregard for the devastating effect it's having on commerce and small businesses. Not only that, their searches now suck. I had to go looking for one of my vendors web sites the other day by typing in their actual name instead of a keyword and when I finally found them they were 5 adds down in the organic links with four other completely unrelated links above them. Much of what they've done is deliberate meddling and irresponsible behavior putting responsibility for cleaning up the web into the backs of people who don't know how or who can't take the time to do it and some of this is just plain google has screwed up and they refuse to admit it.

Lord of SEO

01/09/2013 01:20 pm

You're all being brainwashed. These 'algorithms' are designed to boost Google's profit, but the FTC don't have balls or a way to prove it, how would they prove it look through source code? If Panda was for the good of the web why don't they highlight sites that would be affected by it? Surely everyone wants better quality sites, yeah, but what is 'their' definition of quality? Logo with alt tag in header? About us in footer? They're so full of shit and arrogant.


06/25/2013 07:45 am

What if the main page with th links is the homepage? Could you block access or 404 the homepage and create a new homepage e.g. then work on optimising this?


06/27/2013 04:04 am

Actually my question was if I delete all links that given from commenter with their posts. Is there any problem for my site in Google Positon ?


10/24/2013 09:13 pm

I had 11559 links from one website (blogroll) pointing to an article page. I just changed the URL of the article (according to Google WMT it was the only site linking to that page anyway). So the 11559 now 404, but the article is still alive on the site. Did I do the right thing? Or a daft thing?


04/22/2014 06:54 pm

404 pages still pass pagerank to the links they have in them. I think disvow tool should work well.

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