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Hijacked URL in Google SERPS?

Our listing in Google points to another domain

3:44 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Has anybody experienced the following problem -- and if so, do you know what to do about it?

Our listing in Google no longer points directly to our site (e.g., www.mydomain.com); instead, it points to a URL based in another domain that then seems to immediately redirect traffic to our site.

The URL listed by Google for our site now reads: www.another-domain-name.com/mv/showlink.mv?mLinks_ID=0000000&mURL=http://www.mydomain.com

The new listing appears about where our old listing was in the SERPS, but we can no longer find a simple link to our URL.

The other site is one that we recently did a link exchange with, but I don't see how that could trigger this faulty listing.

Anyone know what's going on here? And how we fix it? Contact Google? Contact the other website?

7:06 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


The other site has probably listed you and is using a cgi script or something dynamic to find your url in their database. If you look on their page where your link is, you will see the link as being www.another-domain-name.com/mv/showlink.mv?mLinks_ID=0000000&mURL=http://www.mydomain.com

In robots.txt they have not excluded google from indexing these links, so they appear as listings.... very common and the site is totally innocent. These listings should hardly ever appear in the serps, unless the search is very very non competitive. Do a site:www.theirdomain.com search and you will probably see loads of listings like yours.

I guess this listing will only appear for a keyword search for your company/domain name, the keyword being in your domain? Your site is not showing for this search for other reasons, not because of this listing. Personally, I would be very pleased that they are still giving me a google presence while my site is not there!

You could contact the site and ask them to exclude the spider from indexing their /mv/ folder (in your example). But, you would then loose your 'indirect' presence in the serp. Better to get your own site back by figuring out what is wrong.

If you are paying for click throughs from this site, then perhaps, when your own site is back, you should contact the site.

8:04 pm on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Thanks for the advice -- it's much appreciated!

8:22 pm on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member


There has been a great deal of discussion on this subject - read this thread.


Hope this helps,


3:59 am on Aug 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

WOW. Just spent the past hour reading the thread you refer to, Kaled, and it was very enlightening.

One issue I didn't see addressed: If the site with the redirected link removes that link, will our site be restored to its previous position? Or is our site basically lost in the Google SERPS forever even if the redirect link is removed? I'm trying to decide whether to ask the offending site to remove its link.

Thanks again.

9:00 am on Aug 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


Yup, I think I am wrong and kaled is right. Google is seriously broken!

Sorry for the bum information!


1:02 pm on Aug 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I have only noticed this problem recently, how long has it been going on?
What can a webmaster do to fix it or prevent it?
1:22 pm on Aug 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

To prevent it/fix it :-

1) Don't exchange links with sites that use meta redirects.
2) Instruct any site using such a link to yours to remove it with immediate effect.
3) Check the cached version of the offending page - if google are wrongly ascribing the copyright to the linking site, consider firing a rocket up their a**.
4) Also consider writing to a computer magazine or two and shaming Google into fixing it. REMEMBER, prior to the IPO, they will be sensitive to potential bad publicity.


1:59 pm on Aug 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Thanks Kaled

Now, what to do about the offending site if they are ignoring repeated emails.

<added>and they are members of this forum</added>

3:12 pm on Aug 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Do it back to them :)
3:25 pm on Aug 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The management wants me to call in the lawyers. I want to wait a little longer because he might be on vacation or something. Or, maybe he will read this thread.
7:45 pm on Aug 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Kaled, I noticed that you suggested contacting media about the problem -- just as you suggested in the longer thread on this topic back in June. Two questions:

1) Have you tried to get the attention of the press, and if so, have you had any luck?
2) Where would you suggest sending this kind of story? SearchEngineWatch? I assume the major media won't be interested in a backwater issue like this that only affects a small percentage of sites?

I think taking some action is better than doing nothing, but I'm skeptical about whether the media will pick up on this story, just because the media is likely to perceive it as an overly technical/arcane matter -- and one that doesn't affect the vast majority of users (at least not in any way that they would care about).

To update my situation: I requested that the offending site remove their redirecting link to our site and the owner did so. I'll keep this thread posted as to what happens to our position in the SERPs as the change rolls out in Google.

Rugles: Regarding your question about what to do about the offending site, one of the things that someone did in the long thread that kaled pointed to earlier was to file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint with Google at [google.com...] Worth looking into?

7:45 pm on Aug 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The same thing recently happened to one of my sites. When I exchanged links with this site I didn't realize they were using redirects. The page where my site was listed didn't use redirects.

I checked the serps for one of my main keywords and my site was gone but I noticed my title and description were there. I noticed that the domain that was replacing mine was one that I had exchanged links with. When I went to the site I was glad to see it had a link control panel so I could remove the link myself. When I logged in I saw my site title and when I hovered over it I saw that it was a redirect. I deleted my link and after 5 days my site was back and the other site was gone. I was lucky that this site had a contol panel and I could delete the link before Inktomi picked up on it too.

When I checked the pages in this domain half of them were other sites.

I thought I was staying away from sites with redirected listings but from now on when I exchange links with sites that have a control panel I'll go ahead and sign in and check for rediects.

I hope you guys get the links removed soon. Best Wishes.

11:20 pm on Aug 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Where would you suggest sending this kind of story?

Most computer magazines such as PCW, PC PRO, PC MAG, etc have people who write articles on, well, anything that takes their fancy. They are expected to write a couple of thousands words of waffle every month and some of it is pretty dreadful. Finding someone to write an article on a real problem should not be that difficult. Bear in mind that Google does not splash advertising money around so all an editor will have to worry about is getting the facts straight.

Now, whether you write/email several people/magazines simultaneously or one at a time is a judgement call. I would pick one magazine and cc a posted letter to three people including the editor. If that didn't work I would email the same to another magazine, wait a few days and then another, etc.

HOWEVER, you would have to explain the problem very very carefully because it is difficult to understand. You should show the letter to friends and then have them explain it to you. If they understand it then there is at least a chance that others will too.


9:24 am on Aug 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

sorry for intruding on this topic, although it is somewhat relevant.... everytime I try to post a thread about G results that are TOTALY wrong, the mods here won't let it go through... here's my 3 cents:

I was searching for some products today and ran across something I had never seen before.

Ranking well for a pretty competitive term is a AOL search results page for the exact phrase I was searching for and a title something like this:

AOL Search: Results for "big red widgets"

Over the last few months I have seen results from other small search engines and ppc engines, but this is the first time I ever saw this. What makes it more strange than the usual, google showing search engine result pages is when you click the link and go to AOL, the same result is ranking in the same spot.

so basically, search google and they give you a serp for the same page you are looking at, results for what you are searching for... what sense does this make?

10:16 am on Aug 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member


Report the problem to Google.
I must say what you describe is bizarre since Google supply results to AOL search - in other words Google are indexing their own SERPS - totally barking.


11:27 am on Aug 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I even saw this with "Location: url" redirects.
But the target appeared as it was on my site, so I didn't care.
7:40 pm on Aug 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Bluepixel, I think the reasons someone might care are thoroughly documented by a number of people in the thread Kaled referenced earlier. My redirect problem lands on my home page, too, but after nearly a year of hard work to get to where I was in the SERPs, it's pretty horrific to see my Google listing appearing as if it's on someone else's website. It's confusing to users and basically puts your Google listing in someone else's control -- and it's open to malicious abuse.

That's not to say that you ought to care, necessarily, but I think it's clear why it might be a huge headache for some people.

7:55 pm on Aug 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've also had this happen a few months ago. Sent in a "spam report", was told there was nothing they could do - that I should contact the site owner (which I never did).

Ironically ... next day the 'offending' listing was gone, and mine returned. Don't know if it'll work again, but it may not hurt to try.