Causes For PBN Blogs Deindexation (backed by data)

One of the benefits of having a unified platform like EBN is that we can do analysis on a large number of PBN blogs (at the time of writing over 5500). Because some users reported having more than just a few blogs deindexed in a sweep (later to be known as Panda 4.2), we did an analysis of all deindexed blogs and found one really obvious pattern.

Keep in mind this is a minority of users and blogs on the platform and no users or servers lost a significant number of blogs.

Lots of 301 redirects for 404 errors

We found the large majority of deindexed blogs in the latest sweep have in common two things:

  • they’re doing 404 error redirects,
  • they have a large number of 404 errors (meaning the old website had a lot of subpages).

In exact terms this looks like this:

  • 80% of deindexed blogs have 30% or more of all traffic redirected to homepage. 
  • 90% of indexed blogs have less than 5% of all traffic redirected to homepage.

This could mean that Google finds a 301 redirect on a majority of subpages very problematic, especially if they go to homepage or a completely different subpage than it was previously. This is not an issue of a plugin but of a redirect (so using different plugins, hiding plugins or doing it with htaccess won’t help).

While a lot of 301 redirects to a new URL but with same or similar content does not cause issues (this happens when people redesign websites, move subpages to a different category, move from non-www to www, remove .html from the URL and similar), it seems a large number of redirects to homepage most likely causes deindexation (or at least a manual review).

Which, come to think of it, makes a lot of sense. There are not a lot of legitimate uses for redirecting tens or even hundreds of subpages to the homepage when content changed.

We don’t know if you can get these kind of deindexed websites reindexed but we’d love to hear if anybody has tested this.

At this time we highly recommend you disable all 404 redirect plugins for blogs that had a large number of subpages before you bought them. If you know of a subpage that has some strong juice, you can rebuild that page with the same URL and content or you can create a custom 404 page that has a link to the homepage.

Conclusion And Our Recommendations

Beside the obvious redirect issues, we also found that blogs with more posts (10+) and more pages (5+) are a bit less likely to get deindexed. Therefore our two recommendations are:

  • immediately remove all 404 redirects and rather rebuild important subpages,
  • add more (quality) content and more pages.

Follow the above recommendations and we can say with certainty you’ll lower the chances of your blog getting deindexed. I also recommend you read our blog post on the last year’s deindexation aftermath that covers a lot of the above plus Searchmetrics’ analysis of high-ranking websites.

We’ve started building an advanced analytics platform that will help us analyze blogs better and hopefully give us even more actionable information. We’ll keep you posted!


  1. Well this makes a hell of alot of sense. Thanks for sharing mate.

  2. One thing I thought of if you want to avoid too many 404 redirect plugins…why not just build 404 pages for some of them? You can then link to your homepage on the 404 page and the juice will still flow through, but you’ve eliminated the redirect problem.

  3. Let’s say for example we added a simple error page with a link to the home page.. it could then become easier to loose those juicy links we bought the domain for in the first place… If the webmaster clicks the link and goes to an error page then they are more likely to remove the link from their site…

    Maybe the best thing to do is find your top backlinks and see what pages they are linking to via Majestic,ahref, moz etc and then do custom 301 redirects for them only… This at least allows us to keep the best of the link juice flowing…of course we will be loosing out on some but better safe then sorry right.

    Doing 301 redirects using .ht-access is simple and cant be traced – You could also use plugins such as pretty links to re-create the url and then perm redirect it to the home page etc

    I personally tend to look for domains with not so many links..for such cases it should not be hard.

    Either way…I clearly agree that this could leave a huge footprint regardless of using a plugin or not..

    • The problem is if there is a lot of 404 traffic that goes to 301. Your option doesn’t decrease that. That’s why we recommend rebuilding pages. And you’re not losing link juice this way.

  4. Are you suggesting we make the 404 all traffic to an index-able page that’s not the homepage? Like an index-able 404?

    • Yes, that would be better. The best option is to rebuild the URLs and put content on them (at least on the most important ones). See our plugin Rebuild Pages for this.

  5. Did you find anything on de-indexation of sites using Google fonts?

    Do you think it’s a serious footprint?

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