Google Penguin Help – Is 404ing a webpage a good way to remove unnatural links?

More recently, I’ve been helping many people with the recent Google Penguin updates.

A recent question that came about was -

“Dave, I’ve done a full audit on my site and done as much link removal as possible and before I do a reconsideration request I would like to remove more links but I’ve not had much success. Is 404ing webpages a method I could use?”

This is a great question and something which other Webmasters have asked. My site has been subject to page scraping (where others will duplicate content and syndicate it). If there are any internal links on a blog post, they typically transfer across on the scrapped content.

I found that one of my blog posts had be duplicated and syndicated which then generated a lot of backlinks via an internal link within the content. I didn’t want these links so I 404′d the page. Fortunately, it was an overall important page so I didn’t lose out to much.

Obviously, the intention was to send these unnatural links to a page of no importance and one Google doesn’t pay attention too, my 404 page.

John Mueller of Google also has been quoted as saying:

“if you remove the page that is being linked to and make sure that it returns a 404/410 HTTP response code, we’ll ignore the links to those pages”

Obviously the typical dilemma will be that most links will point to the homepage or an important page on your site so the above won’t always be suitable. Ideally link removal and the disavow option is best.

Credit: Penguin sign from SXC.hu

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