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HIJACKED! Exact Content and Ranking
Sally Stitts

 4:01 am on Jan 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Dear Google Support, Jan. 27, 2011 7:30 PM

To wit, my popular #*$!#*$!xx page -
h ttp://www.aaaaaaaa.com/#*$!#*$!xx.htm
has been hijacked by -
h ttp://www.bbbbbbbb.net/#*$!#*$!xx.htm

Whereas, my page has come up #1 for the Google search #*$!#*$!xx FOR YEARS,
my EXACT content (with a few omissions) is now being presented by Google
as being the property of bbbbbbbb.net, IN THE #1 SPOT!
How is it that you are displaying MY CONTENT as theirs?

This is my most popular, and highest-earning web page, for perhaps 5 years now.

To prove my point -->
Here is a summary of my recent aaaaaaaa page popularity in Google -

42.2% of all my impressions - all of 2010
41.5% of all my impressions - January 3-10, 2011
41.4% of all my impressions - January 11-17, 2011
40.3% of all my impressions - January 18-24, 2011
36.7% of all my impressions - January 25, 2011
15.6% of all my impressions - January 26, 2011
12.5% of all my impressions - January 27, 2011

I trust that Google will be able to punish these b@st@rds, post haste.
Since AdSense is not being displayed, NEITHER YOU NOR I are getting paid.

Would you also please provide a brief explanation of how this has happened, and suggest how I might avoid this type of HEIST in the future? Please provide guidance for me.

Thank you very much for your time.
#*$!#*$!xx, webmaster for #*$!#*$!xx

(To moderator - Also sent to AdSense support.)


Sally Stitts

 7:10 am on Jan 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

. . . the strongest action you know how to take.

I have decided upon complete documentation, with 100% of EVERYTHING online, and interlinked, as you will now notice, if you revisit my defense page.

Thank you Robert for all the fine technical advice. However, my knowledge of these matters is sparce. I am a retired semiconductor engineer (self-taught), who only had a business degree. I know precious little about Internet protocol. I just know a little html. Obviously, I am in way over my head. Over the years, I believe that I have been genuinely lucky to avoid most of the pitfalls. I read here A LOT.

I have tiptoed around with .htaccess, and crashed the site on many occasions trying to fix things. I think it is probably screwed up right now.

MOD_REWRITE? Pardon me for laughing. May as well be Greek to me. I can't even get the stuff right, that I THINK I understand!
As you can see, I appear to be doubly disabled.

See? I make one move, on the good advice of members, and now only MOD_REWRITE can save me? See why I am reluctant to do anything? My ignorance of software and protocols has forced me to be very conservative.

Oh. And yet another joyous little tidbit. When I switched to / from /index.htm (not done yet, all by hand), I forgot all about my sitemap.txt. Brilliant. Well, at least I fixed that an hour ago.

Robert Charlton

 7:26 am on Jan 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

Sorry, had no idea you would go ahead and do this without knowing what you were doing. No point complaining to Google if you've delinked a non-canonical inbound link and not redirected it to the canonical version. So, you've got to fix this.

I would at least start by using rel="canonical" on your home page and for all directory index pages. It's not as good as a server redirect, but reports are that it works surprisingly well. Use full absolute urls in the rel="canonical" statement. Pay a lot of attention to details.

Check out the Google help page and this thread....

Search Engines Agree on "Canonical tag"
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/3848488.htm [webmasterworld.com]


 8:13 am on Jan 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

When I switched to / from /index.htm (not done yet, all by hand)

That action is fine, and should cause no problems whatever. Keep working on that cleanup no matter what else you do. It will help your site give clearer signals to the search engines and that can only help the cause.

If redirects terrify you, don't panic until you determine the scope of your "inconsistency problem". Do some research to determine how many other sites (if any) are linking to the /index.htm version of your home page URL. Maybe you'll be lucky and find that all outside sites are already linking to the preferred URL. In that case no redirect would be needed.

If only a few sites are linking to the /index.htm, you might be able to contact them with a request that they update the links. If everyone updated their links, you'd again escape the need for redirects.

If a lot of sites are linking to the /index.htm version, then contacting them all would be less feasible, although still an option. You'd also have the choice of ignoring the inconsistencies and deciding to simply live with the spider confusion they cause. That's not the best option, of course, but it is an option.

Or ... you could bite the bullet and learn how to make the redirects that would take control of the inconsistencies and send the clearest possible signals to the spiders.

Take heart, Sally: you aren't a true webmaster until you've blown up the .htaccess a few times! Just keep meticulous track of every change you make so you can reverse your steps if need be.


 1:24 pm on Jan 31, 2011 (gmt 0)


I think you're getting excellent advice from the posts above and the other thread. When I posted I didn't know of the other thread or your recent changes. There's one detail I hope some of the recent posters can comment on.

This page has a cascading 301 redirect. If I type your domain www.example.com/medicine with no trailing slash, the browser (and Google) will see three redirects in a row before it reaches the actual medicine/index.htm page. Google likes one 301 redirect, but I think it has a problem with 3.

I do think a "cascade redirect" could be a problem. Call the various directory paths A,B,C,D. I think you have A > B > C > D where it should be A > D, B > D, C > D. Experts please comment on this specific detail!


 5:17 pm on Jan 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

One of the things I *really* like for messing with .htaccess and redirects is the Live HTTP Headers plugin for FireFox. With this installed, you can actually see how your redirects are working, and whether they are returning the proper result code. Even if you normally don't use Firefox, it's worth installing for that.


 7:09 pm on Jan 31, 2011 (gmt 0)


I'm wondering if we're seeing personalization at work?

I'm seeing the site Sally is speaking of (her's) at #1 too and the other site is not in the top 30 for me... Sally, have you been clicking on the link to the other site often? And if so, more often than your own?

I'm not saying there wasn't an issue, but it may be the issue has been corrected on a large scale but your personalization (from clicking on the other site) may be overriding it for you... It may also be the new results are not sowing in your area yet, but I seriously wonder about personalization if you've been clicking on the other site much.

I'll look the site over some more, but you're definitely #1 for some of us.

It'll probably be a bit... My sites have been down most of the am, just came back up about an hour ago and I've got to get some things in place then go host shopping, so I've got my hands a bit full right now, but I'll have a look like I said and let you know if I see anything not already noted here.

Sally Stitts

 7:18 pm on Jan 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

FIXED! January 31, 2011 at 11:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time

Thank you Google. And thank you everyone here, who have been so helpful. I have learned a lot, and I will be ever more vigilant in the future.

I removed a couple of questionable entries from my htaccess file yesterday, and continue cleaning up my internal links.
Sometimes trying to be too clever, can gum up the works. Given my software abilities (lack of), simplicity seems to suit me best, across the board.

I also wiped out ALL my attempts at /mobile/. I really did not know what I was doing. I was sending Google to URLs that did not exist. I'm done with mobile - it really does not fit my site. I have lots of huge tables, since I am an Excel freak, and old data dude.

I must double my time spent here, reading threads, to about 6 hours a day.



 7:53 pm on Jan 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hooray! :)

Sally Stitts

 10:11 pm on Jan 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

buckworks - I had tried to PM you with a thank you, and other data,
but your mailbox was full.

I'll try again later.


 2:53 am on Feb 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Sally, I am not sure if this is just hitting a different data centre, but searching on Google.com from UK with personalisation disabled and cleared cookies at the moment shows the site that scraped you as #1

Added &gl=us parameters to google.com and am getting the same result.

I am wondering what others are seeing now?


 4:04 am on Feb 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Ok let me confirm what i see now.The .htm version has come back and ranks #1 So, as i suspected the entire drop that you saw was because of .htm not ranking.

Sally, i see some of the the changes suggested via mail by me and i guess that it is helping you..can you pls. confirm?

Let me add another data point here.... Your pdf was anyway ranking earlier (when i saw it from here) and you did get traffic to it but your analytics wasn't tracking it, as you don't have the code on the pdf file.

Sally Stitts

 9:02 pm on Feb 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yes, I am implementing a number of fixes, as suggested by several members here. Currently, 10 members have answered the call, and I have PM'ed them all.

Analytics code in the PDF file

I never ever thought of doing that. Maybe today. So many things are hitting the fan right now (not just Internet), I am going nuts.

On my page theft description/ defense page, I have added the URLs of 14 other websites who have copied my MAIN abcde abcdefgh GRAPHIC, which is arguably the most important part of the page. I found these by searching Google Images for abcde-abcdefgh-abcde.

If it is difficult to canonize html content, imagine the far greater difficulty of canonizing an image, which has been slightly resized, and re alt-texted. Oh boy. I wish I could work with Google on this, but my conclusion and tack is that the only real way to address an issue is to go full open kimono online.

It may have worked on the stolen html issue, but who can know?
I'm trying it again on the stolen images. We'll see.


 12:26 am on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

I see my content scraped and ranked higher than me everyday. I'm amazed this can create such a discution around here. I thought people got used to it by now. This is why you didn't get much attention on g forum... sorry about what happened to you.

From my experience, you should do a DCMA. But this helps if there r just a few scrapers. If i had to send g a DCMA for every scraper it would cost me millions just in postal fees...

Second, you should look for patterns in your logs to discover the IPs of the scraper. Usually it's not the same one as the scraper site itself. (PM me for a few pointers). Block those...

Third, there are a few site design tricks that help bring scrapers numbers down.

The second solution: make them an offer they cannot refuse... :)


 12:46 am on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

After reading this post i searched for one of my articles (large sections of text between quotes) that used to get me lots of visitors, until a few days ago. It's not even on the first page of the SERPs anymore. The first result is an expired domain or smth that doesn't even have the actual article on it.

What could you do? G has always been great at spotting scrapers... and then put them on the first page....

Sally Stitts

 12:57 am on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

I see my content scraped and ranked higher than me everyday.

This bodes poorly for the Internet as we know it.
Is this what CEO Eric Schmidt meant about the "cesspool"?
If everything turns to cr@p, why continue participating?
I can do other stuff.

make them an offer they cannot refuse

I'm not sure what this means.
What it means for me -
Identify them as thieves, and publish ALL their names and URLs ONLINE, NEVER to be taken down. Expose them to the world, FOREVER. Let all others know, who conduct a simple Google search.

My approach is sunshine, and lots of it. Feels good.
Plus, I believe that this is the BEST way to communicate with Google. They may not respond to emails, but they sure as heck read the net. Give them something to look at.

All 14 of the thieves mentioned above are now listed online, and will be, for a very long time. God gives second chances, not me. If you are a thief now, you are going to be a thief later. I pay my hosting FAR in advance, so even if I croak, the stuff will remain "up" for a long time. This is the best that I can come up with, right now. Except for some other stuff, which I will not discuss. I'm piffed.

A very old friend of mine, Dan Dubsky, UCLA Abnormal Psych major, once gave me this advice - "Sally, there are two kinds of therapy, pain and fear. Pain is good, fear is better." I prefer to administer both.

What does a DMCA say? "Go steal your content elsewhere. Have a nice day." I am lusting for more, such as imprisonment. If an individual is served with 10,000 DMCAs, what are the consequences? None. This must change, or the Internet will become even more of a cesspool.

Eventually, the Wild West will be subdued. Not too sure if that will occur in my lifetime.


 2:12 am on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Sally, you've won my heart! That rant was awesome.

Sally Stitts

 2:17 am on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Gee tanks. I was just kinda following my nose.

I am accused of having RIS - Righteous Indignation Syndrome. When I see things that aren't right, I tend to go nuts. I believe that it is a real syndrome. I have a lot of trouble holding myself back sometimes. Not this time - just the swearwords.


 10:24 am on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure what this means.

Watch The godfather :)

I don't think your idea is very good. All you'll be able to do is actually advertise their websites. They won't stop from scrapping you and this will not resolve the problem.

I rember noticing a few years ago that G was solving the scraping problem with a "first come, first served" technique. If I managed to get indexed before the scrapers (which didn't happen everytime) my original content would remain in front of them. However, that's not in place anymore :(

Sally Stitts

 8:16 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

The head-in-the-bed technique? I see.

You may be right, but I still like the idea - total sunshine - no pussyfooting around.
No links, just names.
No more wondering if Google sees my issues. With my approach, they can see everything, if they so choose.

We'll see what happens.


 7:56 pm on Feb 9, 2011 (gmt 0)


We'll see what happens.

can you give us an update on any changes, good or bad?

Thanks in advance.


 8:23 pm on Feb 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's OK to be angry over this.

How did the DMCA work out? I've been scraped once, used a DMCA and they took a whole hosting company offline for a week over it.


 9:37 pm on Feb 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

Well the saddest thing is that Sally's story is deja vu for me . I'm totlly understand her , I got from Big G just more complaints on my website - a ridiculous complaints ( sadly more) because I defended my statement of stealing my content. A trick was in that I can not defend myself against bigger website scrappers, they have more power then DCMA , yes that's a REAL TRUTH and that put us in this absurd situation with original content .

What's step more ?
Almost EVERYONE starts to scrapping and stealing original content around the web because Google double standards.

Now even sreach results are sccraped + with tons of malware/virus/troja pages with original content on SE.
I see this every #*$!ING day more !

If your website experience some big drop down of SE traffic , I strongly suggest you to investigate your rankings and links around web (use Google Webmaster tools for start ), probably yours rankings/positions/pages are hijacked and linked to some malware/virus/troja Scrappers/thieves pages.
And few days ago on top of all these CR@PS even Mobile Google images are hijacked !Not only mine ...

Sally Stitts

 2:32 am on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Things are staying fixed. It took Google 6 days to implement.
Both my ranking and traffic have returned.
I have described this incident in its entirety, on a new "thief description" web page, and I have named all names. I have added the names of 14 others who have stolen my PRIMARY GRAPHIC, which is the MAIN CONTENT of the page. PM me for the URL, if interested.

Whether or not my "sunshine" approach expedited the fix, I have no way of knowing. Google did not respond to my emails, at all. They used to respond. Scalability for this does not exist, so individual cases do not get addressed. Long term, I don't see this getting better, although it did for me. Was I just lucky, or did the sunshine help?

My "thief description" page, with all the names, will remain online until 2 years after my death. I pay my hosting far in advance. I did not send the DMCA. I prefer other methods, such as permanent, searchable online records, and other things.


 4:04 am on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

So to summarize:

You sent some emails to google (I am not sure which department you sent them to), and publicized the names of the sites that were scraping you. And that got your traffic and rankings back?

Sally Stitts

 4:53 am on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

1. I sent an email to AdSense - no response.
I sent an email to Google Search, which has worked fine in the past (for years). This time, it got bounced right back to my email account - invalid email address.

2. I publicized the names of the sites that were scraping my content, and will continue to.

3. I got my ranking and traffic back.

As for cause and effect, your guess is as good as mine.


 3:44 pm on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

FIXED! January 31, 2011 at 11:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time

I believe the webhost had pulled the page down a day or so before Sally declared the problem fixed. They probably did respond to a DMCA. The page is still gone today.

It is surprising how quickly the rankings were restored!

Sally Stitts

 6:33 pm on Feb 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yes, very fast.

HOWEVER, not anymore.
My rankings have changed today.
My previous page ranking resulted in 40% of my impressions, for years.
When the theft occurred and was in force, it dropped down to 9%.
After the fix, it went up to 38% again.

Today, 19%. The thief is gone, but my impressions have plunged.
I have been denigrated by the new algo.
So, as far as ranking, my #1 positions have slipped down to #3, #8, etc.
Nobody is on top forever.
New factors are being used to establish the top positions.
I can't do much about that.

I'm not saying that I deserve the top position.
I am saying that I had the top positions for several search phrases, and now I don't. What WAS good stuff for YEARS, is now NOT good stuff. So, the criteria for ranking has changed substantially.

Today, the search phrase that always resulted in my page in the top spot, results in annihilation - VAPORIZED - cannot be found!
At Bing and Yahoo, I am still #1 for the phrase. Bing better get busy and copy Google's results faster, if they want to "keep up" (tee-hee-hee). If one's rank can go from totally hot to totally not, INSTANTLY, one must wonder about ALL Google rankings.

It is time to sift through the recent posts right here, to try and determine the nature of these changes. There does seem to be an inordinate number of "lost ranking" threads going on.

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