Google's John Mueller Gives Some Advice About Cleaning Up Hacked Web Pages

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A new article on Search Engine Journal reports that Google's John Mueller recently used Reddit to offer some advice on cleaning up hacker-injected web pages.

Google's John Mueller just shared some of the SEO best practices to use after you've been unfortunate enough to be affected by hacking. The information arrived after Mueller spotted a Reddit thread from a website owner who needed to deal with thousands of hacker-injected web pages. The site owner started off by asking whether he should 404 or 410 the hacked pages, and this is how Mueller replied:

"It doesn't matter. The difference is mostly theoretical."
The site owner then asked if there's anything else they should do, adding that the site affected is for a small business website, and normally has less than 20 pages. However, the hacker added thousands more pages and they've since been 410'd, but the site's rankings haven't recovered since the hacked pages got removed. Mueller advises the website owner to use the URL removal tool to hide the pages in search results. Then, once the sites get crawled and reindexed, search results should go back to normal quickly - but it could take a while to recover fully:

"The URL removal tools will hide them in the search results, which is a good first step. They'll be recrawled over time and drop out of the index (404 or 410 doesn't really matter), and usually the search results for the rest of the site go back to normal fairly quickly (though it certainly can take a few months for things to really settle back down, depending on how & how long the site was hacked)."
Mueller adds that hacks can sometimes expose existing issues on a website:

"... if a site has tricky issues already, then sometimes getting hacked essentially causes our systems to have to reconsider how the site should be shown in search. If you suspect it might be in that direction, then by all means still clean up the issue with the hack, but focus most of your time on significantly improving the site overall, rather than trying to remove all minuscule traces of the hack."
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