I have a couple of questions regarding SEO ranking as it pertains to spam sites linking to my site.
I have a niche website that allows people to create their own web pages for free. A couple of years ago, some spammers circumvented my (admittedly weak) security and generated tens of thousands of pages of spam content and tons of links to it from other spam sites. The content has all been deleted, but there are still many, many links to those old URLs with terms about downloading free TV shows, prescription drugs, etc.
These backlinks make up the majority, and I'm wondering if this is hurting my site. I have to guess it is, but I'm not certain.
I think part of the problem is that when the spam pages (or any page, for that matter) are deleted, I simply convert it into a redirect to my home page. This is a 302 redirect, and not a 301. I thought this was a good idea when I implemented it, but perhaps it is not.
So my questions are:
- Is it better to show a 404 if a page is missing, or to link to my home page? Will I lose any SEO weight by mass 404-ing the deleted pages (likely tens of thousands of pages)
- Would reporting or disavowing these linking pages do me any good?
- What is the recommended and proper way to prevent other sites from dragging down your rank (if there is one?)