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There are two sites on one server:

  • http://www.exampleA.com lives in the root
  • http://www.exampleB.com live in the htdocs web folder

SSL on the server was configured incorrectly for http://www.exampleA.com by the host. This resulted in many pages that do not exist on http://www.exampleB.com to get indexed under that domain. Here some examples:

  • https://www.exampleB.com/help-page/ is indexed but when you click on it you see the content of https://www.exampleA.com/help-page/.

  • There are a ton of pages in SERP that look like this: https://www.exampleB.com/node/123, https://www.exampleB.com/node/302 and etc. All of these belong to https://www.exampleB.com

Basically, all SSl pages from www.exampleA.com are indexed under www.exampleB.com and are mirroring the content.

Things I have done so far:

1) Moved http://www.exampleB.com to a new server because the old host could not figure the issue out.

2) Forced https to http in .htaccess which was not possible on the old host. However, on the new host (WP Engine) the redirect might not work all the time since .htaccess might get ignored because of Nginx setup.

Now I am struck with about 400 - 500 junk pages in SERP that return a 404.

Do I 301 those pages to / or just let them be since they were not going to any appropriate content in the first place?

Is there anything else I am forgetting?

  • Never ever mark a valid 404 error in GWT as being fixed. Just let the process run it's course and it will get fixed soon enough. When the problem is solved, for your most important pages, you can do a Fetch as Google for domain A if you think that will straighten things out. – closetnoc Feb 11 '15 at 16:48
  • @closetnoc I am not at all concerned with GWT errors. My biggest concern it that some of these nasty pages are showing up in SERP pretty high. Site B has very few pages and site A is HUGE. Site B relies on a few branded keywords for ALOT of its traffic. It has very high brand awareness in the industry. A lot of these nasty pages are showing up for branded keywords. – dasickle Feb 11 '15 at 16:56
  • Then I would suspect that the remove page option in GWT may be your best bet. I hesitate doing this, but sometimes there is no other option. I have had to do this to remove a firewall signature that Google kept putting into their SERPs. (They were rather insistent.) It was a broken link, but I did not want to tell people what firewall I had. But what really did the trick was restricting the bad page via robots.txt. It took a couple of days, but it was gone toot-sweet after that! Perhaps a Fetch as Google for the bad pages after editing the robots.txt?? – closetnoc Feb 11 '15 at 17:04
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A 404 response is the appropriate error message, you could even use 410 gone if you wanted. It's best not to use any redirect as it sounds like you don't want ExampleA.com associated with ExampleB.com, time should resolve this issue. If your in a hurry and have plently of time on your hands then you can manually remove the urls from Google webmaster tools with the request url removal tool.

Also, even with 500 odd 404 errors in webmaster tools this will not harm your SEO, it may however temporary slightly, don't redirect just to satisfy webmaster tools. 500 Urls should take between 3-12 weeks for Google to resolve. A little advice would be whenever changing host or adding features always ensure you do full testing. Google doesn't instantly de-index and redirect stuff on different domains in one evening, it normally takes days to weeks, and from that sounds of it this went unnoticed for some time.

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