Google reported Crawl Errors last week on my largest site though Webmaster Tools. Here is the message:

Google detected a significant increase in the number of URLs that return a 404 (Page Not Found) error. Investigating these errors and fixing them where appropriate ensures that Google can successfully crawl your site's pages.

The Crawl Errors list is now full of hundreds of fake links like these causing 16,519 errors so far:

enter image description here

Note that my site does not even have a search.html and is not related to any of the terms shown in the above image. Inspecting sources for one of those links, I can see this is not simply an isolated source but a concerted effort:

enter image description here

Each of the links has a few to a dozen sources all from different, seemingly unrelated sites.

It is completely baffling as to why would someone to spending effort doing this. What are they hoping to achieve? Is this an attack?

Most importantly:

Does this have a negative effect on my side? Could it negatively impact my ranking?

If so, what to do about it?

The few linking pages I looked at are full of thousands of links to tons of sites and have no contact information and do not seem like the kind of people who would simply stop if asked nicely!

According to Google Webmaster Tools, these errors have appeared in a span of 11 days. No crawl errors were being reported previously.

2 Answers 2


I think it could have a small negative effect on your site as it is obviously coming from spam bots, probably looking to show up in referral logs among other things. I don't think it is an attack, but more of a failed blackhat SEO method.

My first suggestion would be to block search.html in robots.txt and request the removal of the URL through Webmaster Tools since you said you don't have any content there.

  • Interesting. That makes some sense to me. If you look carefully they query sent has a site:pilltrade.com in there which suggests they are trying to generate links to that site and using mine to do so.
    – Itai
    Mar 6, 2013 at 15:21
  • 1
    @Itai Precisely, it is common to see certain sites spam like this in referral logs through awstats or something, I've never seen it come through on Google like this though. Mar 6, 2013 at 15:23
  • 1
    Don't ever expose any log statistics publicly as you will then attract referrer spam. Spammers can automatically create links on your site with these type requests. Once your site publishes these log statistics links, you inadvertently and falsely acknowledge a relationship exists to garbage site and then your SEO ranking can go down the tubes. Some things can be done with .htaccess and/or mod_security to help knock some of the edge off these. If there's no search function, give a 403 access denied through these means. May 5, 2013 at 15:51

There's 2 possibilities,

You Paid Someone

You paid someone to make you some links and they are have used automated tools without any care in the world where your links end up and what anchors they use for these links.

Someone Hates You

The 2nd possibility is that someone is trying to damage your rankings by backlinking to your site from hundreds to thousands of unworthy site. This can ultimately damage your rankings, however Matt Cutts the web spam leader at Google has said its not possible for others to hurt your rankings yet its possible for someone who's the webmaster to hurt their own? it's very contradiction information and my personal belief is that someone linking to you in the form you have listed in screenshots will not help one bit.

Google uses an every day algorithm which effects rankings on links but they also have a scheduled algorithm update that they run 2-6 times a year called 'Penguin' This is ultimately what you should research. Google also released a disavowed tool that you can tell Google to remove these links from GWT and from having ranking factors on your site, many people have reported this tool as fail and have not had any return in rankings after Penguin.

  • Well. I can rule out the first and if I ever do, I better never hire these guys since they can't even point at an existing page! Given that all Google sees are 404s.
    – Itai
    Mar 6, 2013 at 15:14
  • You are right about the contraction. My original assumption was also that no one could not harm another site (meaning there are links that raise your rankings but not that lower them) but the existence of the disavow tells says otherwise. That seems quite dangerous to me since that mean anyone with money could take down their competitors (since it's easy to create bad links it seems).
    – Itai
    Mar 6, 2013 at 15:18
  • Sadly this used to be the case as Google used to 'Write off non-relevant links' so links that were considered spam just didn't have any positive effect but now they work against you and many people have asked Matt Cutts and he insists that no one can damage your online reputation yet people have studied this area and some online studies have proven this isn't the case. Why so many people do not have faith in the Penguin. Mar 6, 2013 at 15:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.