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After analyzing our inbound links, it appears that we are getting a few thousand links from a particular site whose search engine result pages (SERPs) are being indexed by search engines. The website's SERP has a common sidebar that include links to our site.

So, we are getting links from pages with URLs that look like these:

  • http://example.com/search?q=foo
  • http://example.com/search?q=bar&page=10
  • etc

Looking at the site's robots.txt, it seems like they are telling robots not to index /search.

Are these links hurting our rankings? We're on page 1 or 2 for the keywords we're interested in. We'd like to go to page 1 for everything. Should we try to disavow them or leave them alone?

  • There seems to be a contradiction... on the one hand you are saying these search results pages (I wouldn't call this a search "engine", since you already say it is a "particular site") "are being indexed by search engines", yet you say these search pages are blocked by robots.txt? Are they being blocked by robots.txt (and not indexed)? If so then you have nothing to worry about. – MrWhite Nov 3 '15 at 1:02
  • The said website has a search feature. The results are displayed in what's generically called a SERP. Search engines like Google are indexing the SERPs of the website. Is that clearer? – WebMasterNewbie Nov 3 '15 at 1:12
  • I got it the first time around though I can see how it was confusing and difficult to understand. Your clarification is spot on!! Keep in mind that these pages will eventually drop from the SERPs (G's SERPs) and count for nothing. These pages, rightly, should be marked noindex, however, some think this is a ticket to instant content and internal linking. How wrong they are! You can disavow the entire domain if you want, however, I always advise not jumping the gun and just waiting it out. Disavowing should be the last step and only if the links are truly damaging. – closetnoc Nov 3 '15 at 3:48
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It is impossible to say.

Without seeing the site, there is nothing here that distinguishes it as being a site to block. You ask if you should block sites that use query strings? No! That would likely be the referrer field and Google uses query strings. It also uses /search. If you are talking about the requester field, then that would not make sense.

You have to evaluate each site on it's own and not look at these fields which do not contain a smoking gun clue. Once you have looked at the site, then you block the site if it is warranted.

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Looking at the site's robots.txt, it seems like they are telling robots not to index /search.

robots.txt can prevent crawling, not indexing.

to be sure, that you disavow really all links, which could hurt your site, disavow the whole domain, like:

If you want Google to ignore all links from an entire domain (like example.com), add the line domain:example.com.

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Primarily you want to be looking for duplication when using query strings.

Do the strings create a new URL with identical content to another page on your site?

If this is the case you'll need to:

a) Block Google from crawling these pages using the robots.txt file. b) Prevent Google from indexing any of these pages using the meta 'noindex' tag.

There is also a feature in Webmaster Tools (or Search Console as it's now called) that will allow you to specifically 'tell' Google what different search parameters do so that you can ensure they're handing these URLs correctly.

How to set Query Parameters in Search Console

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