During the Question and Answer segment of a hangout, one SEO professional asked John about using the URL inspection tool in Google Search Console on established highly visible pages.
They ran into a problem where microsite domains were listed as referring pages.
So their question was: how concerning is it that long-retired microsite domains are listed in the referring pages in Search Console?
John answered that this would not bother him at all. In particular, the referring page in Search Console in the URL inspection tool is where they first saw the mention of their pages.
And if Search Console first sees them on some random website, then that is just where Search Console saw them. And that’s what they list there.
It doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with these pages.
From Google’s point of view, this is a purely technical thing. It’s like “Well, here is what we found.” It’s not a sign that you need to make sure that it was first found on some very important part of your site.
If your pages are indexed, then this is the important part here. John would not really worry about where they were first found.
John also offered a few more tips for dealing with this issue:
If you run across a referring page, then you may want to think about “Why did Google find this page?”
Where did the page come from?
If there are weird URL parameters in there, or if there’s something really weird in the URL where you are saying “Well, Google should never have found this page in the first place.”
Looking at the referring URL is something that helps you figure out something like “Where did this referring page actually come from? Is this something I did?”
Or perhaps some random person on the internet dropped a broken link to the website somehow.
This could help you determine exactly what’s up when dealing with these types of referring pages.
This happens at approximately the 30:34 mark in the video.
John Mueller Hangout Transcript
John (Submitted Question) 30:34
Let’s see, when using URL inspection in Search Console on established highly visible pages, how concerning is it that the referring pages listed are long-retired microsite domains?
John (Answer) 30:48
That would not bother me at all. So in particular, the referring page in search, in the inspection tool is kind of where we first saw the mention of your pages. And if we first saw them on some random website, then that’s just where we saw them. And that’s kind of what we list there. It doesn’t mean that there’s anything bad with those pages. So from our point of view, that’s a purely technical thing.
It’s like, well, here’s where we found it. It’s not a sign that you need to kind of make sure that it was first found on some very important part of your website. So if your pages are indexed, I think that’s the important part there, I wouldn’t really worry about where they were first found. I usually use the…for the referring page, when you run across pages that you think, like why did Google even find this page?
Or where did this come from? If they’re weird URL parameters in there, or if there’s something really weird in the URL where you’re saying, Well, Google should never have found this page in the first place, then looking at the referring URL is something that helps you to figure out like, where did this actually come from?
Is this something that I did? Or maybe some random person on the internet dropped a broken link to my website somehow, and that got picked up? That can help you a little bit to figure out: Is it something you need to fix? Or is it just the way the internet is?