When doing link audits, some people just check the homepage of the site a link is coming from, rather than checking the page itself. But if you discover a dead domain, instead of assuming the entire site is dead, it is more likely the site is simply killing the homepage to prevent the onslaught of removal emails and to avoid being disavowed.
Seeing huge increase in number of spammy domains killing home page to make sites appear dead. Check specific URLs!!
— rmoov (@rmoov) June 5, 2015
“What is particularly interesting of late is the rapid increase in this tactic of parking the www subdomain and the addition of deliberately “killing” the home page at the root so it appears the site is completely down,” says Menz. “In recent link audits we have noticed these tactics appearing in an average of 1 in 5 domains checked. Such an increase in a short period (during the first half of this year) suggests perhaps there are people advocating these tactics as a way of avoiding link removal email.”
She also noticed that webmasters were moving content to new subdomains in order to kill the homepage as well. “It seems these webmasters are spending a lot of time and energy (and making unhelpful changes to their own sites) just to avoid receiving email from people trying to get links removed,” says Menz. “The pity of this is that there is a much simpler and less stressful solution which provides both the webmaster and those trying to contact them, with everything they need.”
This isn’t an entirely new problem, although it used to be much more uncommon. “In the early days of Penguin and mass manual actions, we would occasionally see sites where the www subdomain was parked while other subdomains continued to exist and function as normal,” says Menz. “In such cases a check of the home page would suggest the domain no longer contained content other than the ‘parked domain’ format.”
She stresses the importance of ensuring you check individual URLs when conducting link audits. “A check of specific URLs on the other hand, would show that there were subdomains with links still live. There were also other, less sophisticated tactics employed to try to make it appear that entire domains were dead. These included 302 redirects to fake 404 pages and pages with content pushed far enough down to make the home page appear blank.”
Always ensure that you, or whoever is doing your link audits, always check the exact URL and not just the homepage.
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