I noticed that organic search traffic was down for one of my sites, so I began to investigate what might be wrong. I wanted to know why the search engines were suddenly ignoring my site.
This site is 3 years old. High quality. Has survived all the google algo updates like Panda, Penguin, etc.
The first thing I checked was Majestic SEO. And I noticed something really strange. My site usually shows 1,000 quality backlinks; but now it is suddenly showing over a million backlinks.
Upon further investigation, I found that all the new backlinks were from hacked sites, and they were all using pharma anchor text such as "Buy Viagara" and "Cheap Cialis" etc.
When I inspected my site, I found 500 new posts, all having to do with pharma. The million new backlinks were pointing to these 500 new posts.
I cleaned up my site, deleted the 500 pharma posts, and did a fresh clean wordpress install. So my site is clean now.
But there are still a million pharma backlinks from thousands of hacked sites all pointing to URLs that no longer exist (now they show a 404 page).
Before this, my site was ranking for hundreds of niche-specific keywords, and the site was making good adsense money. Now Google thinks my site is a pharma site.
So I need to tell the search engines to disregard those backlinks, but I don't know how. I suppose I could use Webmaster tools to "Disavow Links" but I can't do that for a million backlinks.
The million backlinks are all pointing to 500 specific URLs. As I said, those URLs no longer exist on the site. So if you go to one of those URLs, you will get the 404 page.
So here is my question. Will the search engines understand that all these links are now pointing to a 404 page and are therefore irrelevant?
If not, what can I do about all these backlinks?
Here's an idea. I can set up a 301 redirect for those 500 URLs. I can redirect to a non-resolving domain. Then the millions of backlinks will bounce off my site and redirect to nothing. So all the real backlinks will point to real URLs. And the bad backlinks will redirect and resolve to nothing. Google will eventually crawl all those backlinks and realize that they are pointing to nothing, not even a 404 page.
Do you think this might help?
Any other ideas?