About a month ago I asked a question where I mentioned I created a forum, went on holiday and when I got back the forum got spammed with 1000s of link posts.

However the plot thickens, the forum posts on my website now got linked to by other spammy sites, thus causing 1000s of backlinks pointing to my root domain.

The forum was hosted inside a subdomain folder under my public_html like this public_html/sportsforum.example.com

All those spammy links are pointing to sportsforum.example.com. However my main website example.com is feeling the affects and competitors are just shooting past me.

The site has never done ANYTHING wrong, it had a solid backlink profile, got a large number of organic searches a month and had a number of quality posts.

I have 410'ed the subdomain, and dont know what else I can really do. I am kind of freaking out, any help is very welcome.


Here is an image of my current link profile after the spam generated via majestic

enter image description here


EDIT3: Currently Searchconsole is not displaying any of these spamlinks however, they are often slow..the spam links does however show up when I do a site: example.com search

  • Why you're using majestic for your own site, it's useful to spy on competitor website, not for own website. Use google search console and see who links to my website and then disavow those spammy links. Get relax and do proper things :) And if you already deleted your subdomain then you don't need to do anything, but if your root domain have spammy links then use disavow tool. I am not clear about your second sentence.
    – Goyllo
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 4:42
  • @Goyllo Thank you for your comment. what sentence are you unsure about? If majestic gives a good overview of your competitors profile..majestic should give the same overview of your own site..right? Either way Ahrefs and Opensiteexplorer are also showing these spammy links. I DO NOT WANT TO USE THE DISAVOW TOOL I HAVE HEARD IT CAN BE VERY DANGEROUS
    – Tim C
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 5:53
  • Majestic, ahref and other backlinks analysis tool may not find all spammy links. Only G search console find all links and that's what you should care about it. I am unsure that weather your subdomain have spammy links or your root domain have spammy links? Other tools might consider your subdomain links as root backlinks. You should care about links that Google find it. All tools use different kind of webkit to render webpage. Disavow is not dangerous tool if you block only spammy links, please read only official docs, other blogs might spread wrong info.
    – Goyllo
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 8:17
  • THE LINKS ARE POINTING TO MY SUB-DOMAIN BUT SHOWING UNDER ROOT DOMAIN WHEN USING A BACKLINK CHECKING TOOL WHICH IS WEIRD...Yes I do appreciate that generally all "backlink checking tools" are a waste of money, however my clients use these tools before doing business with me. Google says you should first take action from your side, which includes contacting site owners from linking domain. Needless to say this is near impossible in my case....Guess I have no choice but to not listen to them and just submit those links, which really does scare me.
    – Tim C
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 8:41
  • 1
    If all spammy links are pointing to your subdomain then you're safe, it will not affect your root domain. But why you're returning 404 or 410 error in subdomain? Just delete that CNAME or A record for that subdomain then Browser or crawler will never establish connection to your server :)
    – Goyllo
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 13:20

1 Answer 1


If following a link returns a 404 response code, Google rightfully retains the URL in the index as well as the link. Why? Because a 404 indicates a temporary condition. Google retries any page that returns a 404 for a period before it considers the page truly gone. This will take quite a while. Even then, Google will periodically retry any target page of a link for as long as the link remains. If a 404 is found, the problem may persist.

If, however, following a link returns a 410 response code, then the URL can be dropped from the index immediately and the link becomes truly broken. Why? Because a 410 error is a deliberate act and not the default response of 404.

Imagine a database schema for a minute. When Google indexes a link, there are at least the from (source page), to (target page), and link text data elements stored within the database. The source page and target page data elements are URL IDs of URLs stored within the URL table. When a URL is stored, one can assume there will be a response code element associated with the last fetch. If the URL returns a 404, the page is not resolvable, however the URL remains valid until determined not to be. In turn the link table still has a valid target URL ID making the link valid. If the URL returns a 410, then the URL can be removed. This removes the target URL ID from the link table thus breaking the link. Next, imagine that the sub-domain no longer resolves. All URLs associated with the sub-domain can be removed from the URL table en masse instead of one at a time.

While I may have simplified the process, you can see how the various options effect the speed at which your problem resolves itself.

@Goyllo's suggestion to remove the CNAME record is likely your best bet. Your second best option is to return a 410 response code for all pages. If you continue to return a 404 response code, your problem may not actually go away as long as the link remains.

  • Last I checked Google removed 410 pages from the index immediately after crawling and 404 pages after 24 hours. Usually the "some time" it takes is for Google to get around to crawling everything. Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 16:50
  • @StephenOstermiller 404s remain in the index for a period while they are retried, however, are dropped from the SERPs after receiving the error. Remember that the SERPs are not a good indication of what is in the index. These are two different things. Also consider that 404s can reappear again later if a link exists. And yes. 410 is immediate. Did I infer something else? I did not mean to. I cannot see it. Cheers!!
    – closetnoc
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 22:42

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