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A lot of URLs are suddenly giving us 404s and 500s.

On closer inspection, these URLs do not exist on our website and are being linked from random sources.

As more URLs were inspected on GWT, a lot of the URLs don't have a source, so we have no idea what their origin is.

My questions are :

  • Are we under some kind of SEO (bad-link) attack?

  • If yes, what can we do?

  • If not, what can we do?


Please Note:

The two dips, one at the beginning of the chart, and one in the middle, both occurred because we told GWT that the issues were resolved, to see what would happen.

We noticed a sharp rise in errors again, and I have a hunch that the errors were new URLs not the same ones.

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    Interesting question. It is impossible for us to know. There simply is no information here for us to say anything substantial - only offer opinions and speculate wildly. Can you give us some samples of the URLs? If you click on the URLs on GWT, does it offer any additional information? Cheers!! – closetnoc Mar 5 '16 at 7:43
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    Presumably this is also consistent with your own access logs? – MrWhite Mar 5 '16 at 13:38
  • 5xx errors are BAD. It often means something is wrong with the server, and if the errors are normally 500, then you need to modify your server configuration (especially faulty rewrite rules if you're running apache with mod_rewrite enabled) – Mike Mar 5 '16 at 18:05
  • @Mike 500 errors also happen when a script receives a parameter that causes an unhandled exception. This can happen when using a CMS. This is very common. In these cases, the script needs to be updated to handle the condition. Alternatively, .htaccess can be used to handle the condition prior to script execution. – closetnoc Mar 6 '16 at 19:18
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Well there isn't much information to answer exactly. But here are the possible things which can cause.

  • You might have mis-configured dynamic pages in the webmasters
  • There might have been some pages with query string which may cause 404 and 500 errors
  • Someone might be trying to hack your site with random URL's

To Solve the 500 error issue make sure that you enable redirection on the webpage.

Also share us some of the sample URLs which might help in resolving the issue.

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There's two things happening here, so I'll address each:

404 from bad links - Issuing a valid 404 error is not a problem and will not cause you to lose Google ranks unless it's on a valid page. If you have domains link spamming you, you'll need to pull up your backlink profile and disavow them.

500 error from server - If a bad url is causing a 500 error, this is your server's fault. It should be able to handle random urls and issue either a 400 code (Bad Request) or a 404 (Page Not Found). Apache tends to handle this well, if you're on a Windows server you'll need to look up how to change the base settings to handle the broken urls.

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