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Dupe content checker - 302's - Page Jacking - Meta Refreshes

You make the call.

11:35 am on Sep 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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My site, lets call it: www.widget.com, has been in Google for over 5-years, steadily growing year by year to about 85,000 pages including forums and articles achieved, with a PageRank of 6 and 8287 backlinks in Google, No spam, No funny stuff, No special SEO techniques nothing.

Normally the site grows at a tempo of 200 to 500 pages a month indexed by Google and others ... but since about 1-week I noticed that my site was loosing about
5,000 to 10,000 pages a week in the Google Index.

At first I simply presumed that this was the unpredictable Google flux, until yesterday, the main index-page from www.widget.com disappeared completely our of the Google index.

The index-page was always in the top-3 position for our main topics, aka keywords.

I tried all the techniques to find my index page, such as: allinurl:, site:, direct link etc ... etc, but the index page has simply vanished from the Google index

As a last resource I took a special chunk of text, which can only belong to my index-page: "company name own name town postcode" (which is a sentence of 9
words), from my index page and searched for this in Google.

My index page did not show up, but instead 2 other pages from other sites showed up as having the this information on their page.

Lets call them:
www.foo1.net and www.foo2.net

Wanting to know what my "company text" was doing on those pages I clicked on:
(with mykeyword being my site's main topic)

The page could not load and the message:
"The page cannot be displayed"
was displayed in my browser window

Still wanting to know what was going on, I clicked " Cached" on the Google serps ... AND YES ... there was my index-page as fresh as it could be, updated only yesterday by Google himself (I have a daily date on the page).

Thinking that foo was using a 301 or 302 redirect, I used the "Check Headers Tool" from
webmasterworld only to get a code 200 for my index-page on this other site.

So, foo is using a Meta-redirect ... very fast I made a little robot in perl using LWP and adding a little code that would recognized any kind of redirect.

Fetched the page, but again got a code 200 with no redirects at all.

Thinking the site of foo was up again I tried again to load the page and foo's page with IE, netscape and Opera but always got:
"The page cannot be displayed"

Tried it a couple of times with the same result: LWP can fetch the page but browsers can not load any of the pages from foo's site.

Wanting to know more I typed in Google:
to get a huge load of pages listed, all constructed in the same way, such as:

Also I found some more of my own best ranking pages in this list and after checking the Google index all of those pages from my site has disappeared from the Google index.

None of all the pages found using "site:www.foo1.com" can be loaded with a browser but they can all be fetched with LWP and all of those pages are cached in their original form in the Google-Cache under the Cache-Link of foo

I have send an email to Google about this and am still waiting for a responds.

4:22 am on Sept 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Googlebot only seems to treat a Meta Refresh like a 302 when a page redirects to an external page.
Eg: site1.com/bla.html => site2.com/blabla.html

Has anyone seen an internal Meta Refresh acting like a 302?
Eg: site1.com/bla.html => site1.com/blabla.html

3:22 pm on Sept 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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First - we took a chainsaw to this thread as it had many comments that had little to do with the subject at hand.

Second - there is so much more going on here that meets the eye. There is an issue here, but throwing out spam reports doesn't help any one.

I tell ever one to keep a very skeptical eye to the so called "facts" here - they are not at all what they seem to be.

... trying to get to the bottom of it. In the mean time, leave the side topic stuff, the post count padding, and the pure off topic messages for foo.

6:39 pm on Sept 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If you have created and own copyright to a page that Google is displaying in its cache but is attributing it to another website, you should file a DMCA with Google.

Google has the legal responsibility to take action on that DMCA claim. When you have filed the DMCA with Google, they will contact the other website owner. If the other website owner claims that the content belongs to them and not you, Google will have little choice but to leave the page in its cache.

If the other website owner does not respond, which I think in the above cases mentionnned, they may not, Google will remove these pages from their cache.

7:00 pm on Sept 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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After reading this thread it boosted my curiosity and in fact one company I am or was exchanging links with shows up directly under my company name search in G (mysite position 1 their site position 2) with the identical page title and meta, when you click on the link it goes to the site but if you click on cached it shows my site page jacked to their Ip address. I am very familiar with this company and I am not sure at this point what to do.

Sticky me if you have any advice or if you need cached and dated examples for any class actions.

10:22 pm on Sept 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Excuse me for wading into an interesting topic that is a little over my head:

If someone wanted to get Google's attention on this could they hijack Google's homepage using the same tactic?

Just a thought.

10:56 pm on Sept 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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What you mean a few thousand webmasters put up pages with;

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url=http://www.********.com/etc......"> in them, that wouldn't help G to get it sorted any quicker and could even slow down the cure, I think they are aware and the absence of posts from certain representatives on this thread when they have posted on other subjects in other threads is the reason why I think this.

11:00 pm on Sept 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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2:38 am on Sept 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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In message 45 I reported that I'm using a php redirect script for external links, like so:

$location = 'ht*p://www.somesite.com/';
header('Location: ' . $location);

... though in the script I have maybe 40 links done that way. In the interests of being in a position to act responsibly I would appreciate knowing (from anyone who is technically "au fait" with these things in the light of this thread) whether I am likely doing any damage to the SERPS or SE indexing of somesite.com, or indeed to my page, and if so, what I should do - ideally I would like to retain the php redirect in some form or another.

4:09 am on Sept 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I understand that Meta Refreshes are treated as 302s which gives the originating URL credit for the destination's content.

This clearly is a bad thing if done maliciously.

But it seems the majority of occurances that I've seen and used it is for tracking click-thrus. Tracking has to be done on the host's website prior to sending the visitor to the destination URL.

For instance,
website abc.com links to xyx.com/index.htm

The only way to track click-thrus, is by linking through a tracking script, i.e:

The visitor clicks on this link calling the link.php on my site, which increments the number of clicks to xyz.com.

In this legitimate application, if we do away with Refreshes, how can click-thrus be tracked?

4:27 am on Sept 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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> The only way to track click-thrus, is by linking through a tracking script, i.e:

Here's a thread about one way to do it without using a meta-refresh or redirect: [webmasterworld.com...]


4:38 am on Sept 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Maybe this is why Yahoo! is a bit more finicky with redirects...

I highly doubt that this is accidental...
>"Whoops I didn't know over the last four months that Googlebot indexed over 937,129 pages...

Seems as if I've heard a similar excuse from another SEO programmer...

If I find any of my content falsely represented and/or copied without my consent, you can bet I'll be generating some Spam reports and DMCA reports.

4:46 am on Sept 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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In this legitimate application...

Thanks, and I thought so...

I got mine from WW (more or less):

case('description1'): // ID 1
$location = 'ht*p://www.site1.com/';
case('description2'): // ID 2
$location = 'ht*p://www.site2.com/';
etc etc


header('Location: ' . $location);

Links are like: ht*p://www.mysite.com/go/?url=description1 which returns a 302.

The issue with the one quoted from the other thread is that it requires JS enabled.

Anyway, as I posted earlier, I'm finding sometimes that where the linked-to page should be in SERPS, my script (go/index.php) replaces it. This is a problem either I or the relevant search engine should be addressing. Who and when though?

6:10 am on Sept 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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<<If it's a spidering problem, it likely means the improperly redirected links will need to be respidered, then reindexed. An indexing problem COULD be fixed more quickly if indexing is done independently from spidering I suppose. Google may have a fix in place now and we may be simply waiting for respidering/reindexing corrections to percolate into the publicly available SERPs.>>

I wonder about this. I had been emailing Google back and forth. At first they kept giving me answers such as "your page probably disappeared due to natural fluctuations", your PR probably disappeared as a result of "natural fluctuations". Finally, when my site's title and snippet came up with the other site's URL when doing a search on "www.[my-site].com" I sent one last email to Google. Their response was that "since the other site has removed the link, the problem may resolve itself during future crawls." They also told me they cannot make manual changes for individual sites.

As for my site, the latest is that when you do a search on www.[my-site].com, my snippet and title are gone, and a link with no title and snippet to the other site comes up in the results.

I still have no backlinks and am still coming up as PR0.

Although, if you click on "Find web pages that contain the term "www.[my-site].com" the SERPS list the results for my page, including my index page that was totally gone before.

So, yeah, maybe it will resolve itself in the next crawl, and maybe somebody else will use a meta-refresh to my site again, and I'll be back in the same boat.

<<Each of you needs to report your experience with this problem to Google. This page suggests reporting it to webmaster@google.com. They need solid examples of the problem to analyze so they can implement a fix. Reporting it or complaining about it at WebmasterWorld does little to improve the situation, although it is an opportunity to vent and commiserate with others experiencing the problem... ;)>>

Am I the only person getting responses from Google, still? Anyway, I mentioned this before, but I think it got lost amongst all the other posts.

Originally I had been sending emails go webmaster@google.com and the responses were coming from help@google.com. I was getting nowhere, so I asked them to please, please send my comments to a level 2 or 3 tech (thank you to the person who sent me a sticky mail and gave me that idea). After that, I started getting responses from googlebot@google.com.

I also sent them links to these threads and I can tell you that at least Google was showing up in my stats-looking at my site and the cached pages from that other site's link to me after emailing googlebot@google.com as opposed to getting absolutely nowhere with webmaster@google.com.

Which isn't to imply I really got anywhere with that email address, but at least they eventually admitted they knew what I was talking about.


6:16 am on Sept 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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You can change your header statement to:

header("Location: $URL",true,301);

and then it will send the 301 code instead of the 302 code.

9:22 am on Sept 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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header("Location: $URL",true,301);

Thanks for the suggestion, but it doesn't work.

If (as suggested higher up) the issue is a topical one with search engines - in other words it will get fixed - and anyway the later part of this thread seems to suggest "hush - things are not what they seem" (whatever that means), I feel inclined to leave it be and drop the subject.

This 389 message thread spans 26 pages: 389

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