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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.
Using LWP here is how the HTML-head of their pages looks like:
<title>Copied Title of the Hijacked Page</title>
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url=http://www.widget.com/">
<meta name="robots" content="follow, noindex">
<body bgcolor="#FFFFFF" text="#000000">
..... Further HTML Code .....
I simply can not understand why Google replaces good-performing index-pages like my:
by a Meta-Refresh (redirect) page as:
This is really a huge BUG in Google's algo
There was also a more recent thread but I don't have a link to it.
It sounds as though the site may be cloaking so that it only delivers content to Googlebot and refuses browsers - either that or the site is offline.
Try the following link. You may try setting the user agent to googlebot to see what response you get. Alternatively, using Firefox¦about:config you can change the user agent strings I think - never tried it.
Hope this helps
simple answer is YES it is.
Why haven't they done anything about it? We know their penchance for automated solutions over hand editing but considering that it's "BIG" problem surely they'd have found an automated solution with some alacrity?
And after searching I found many threads, all with different variations of the same problem.
Many more that were kind of related. And lots of stuff on the Yahoo forum too.
So what does it take to fix this? I could very easily do this to all my competition, not to mention all my outgoing links.
I could very easily do this to all my competition
Apparently so. And all you need is a throwaway domain with higher PR than theirs. No html, php or hacking skills required. Simply cut and paste a meta tag from the examples and replace the URL in it.
I just went through all those same threads that you found and it seems the problem dates back to last year (or, at least, Jan this year).
Google, how come you are so silent on this?
Google's engineers may have been drinking decaf at that meeting. :)
If googlebot then finds duplicate content on the net it would regard the older source as authoritative
That's what I thought they did till I saw one of my internal pages copied verbatim and the copied page ranking higher than ours in SERPS (the copy does have a higher PR). <sigh> Just sent them a cease and desist.
Also, almost all references to meta refresh in google answers say that it is a bad practice to use them. In fact, it was considered a popular spam ploy years ago and was used frequently by spam sites.
Something changed and changed drastically. Now there are many meta refreshes showing up in the SERPs. And if I got the timing right, this started right around the Florida fiasco.
I read all these posts of webmasters losing pages in the SERPs, sudden drops in referrals, etc etc., especially since Florida and I wonder if some of this might be related. I have found several of my sites with this problem. Thankfully, the other sites rank higher then the refreshes, and have stayed that way for some time.
But the site now in question has been REPLACED by a meta refresh. Two weeks ago, my home page ranked #50 for a specific key phrase, as of last Monday, the #50 spot is a link to a different site with a meta refresh to my site. My page is gone.
Pretty neat trick if you ask me. I think it needs to be fixed. Google is now broken and anyone can do this. I wonder how many sites will fall before the G takes notice?
A confused and totally bummed out WebDude
My home page is still gone for all key phrases. It is still in the index though if I search the title. My home page is #1, a sub page of mine is #2. Guess what is #3? You got it! The site with the meta refresh that goes to their home page! And if I do an exact search on the title, my site is #1 and the site with the meta refresh is #2!
Fortunately it was an error on the part of the person who coded his links prog.
On removing all his links the problem went away.
Unfortunately the process took so long, with zero interest on the part of G, that I had abandoned the domain.
On another site which had one page duplicated, my page is now back in the cache, and PR has returned.
That's what I thought as well, but clearly it's not as I've had to send out over 20 C&D's in the past two days for this exact event.
I did a header check on the 302 and got the following. Notice that there is a reference in the 302 for www.theirsite.com to www.anothersite.com.
#1 Server Response: [theirsite.com...]
HTTP Status Code: HTTP/1.1 302 Found
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 2004 15:07:50 GMT
Server: Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) PHP/4.3.0 FrontPage/18.104.22.1680
P3P: CP="CAO DSP COR CURa ADMa DEVa OUR IND PHY ONL UNI COM NAV INT DEM PRE" policyref="www.anothersite.com/w3c/p3p.xml"
Redirect Target: index.php
I did a header check on www.anothersite.com/w3c/p3p.xml and got...
#1 Server Response: [www.anothersite.com...]
HTTP Status Code: HTTP/1.1 302 Found
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 2004 15:08:30 GMT
Server: Apache/1.3.27 (Unix) (Red-Hat/Linux) PHP/4.3.8
Content-Type: text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1
Redirect Target: /
This redirected to the www.anothersite.com main pages and guess what? It is a search optimization company with a very large directory of links split up in Yahoo type fashion complete with search capability and everything.
I randomly checked some of these links and lo and behold, all the links are meta refreshes to the sites listed. Must be several thousands of links here (maybe more, it's hard to tell). All the links on the pages are programmed so on a mouseover, it shows the correct URL in the bottom of the browser (just like normal links would), but the actual links are a php script that goes to a meta refresh page.
Looks like thousands of sites have gotten sucked into this thing.
No, my page has a PR6 and has been hijacked by a PR3 page
That small comment could have major repercussions. So far it seemed that the meta problem site needed to have a higher PR to achieve this effect. If any PR3 site can take down a big boy are we saying that any joker can remove a PR10 website like .... oh, OK, no names?
Thats where I think the Google-Bug is, as soon as I change the content of my page, my page becomes the newer page and the hijacker becomes the older page ... so for the duplicate content filter the spammer becomes the oldest page on the net and the updated original page is deleted from the Google-Index (only my theory ... no proove)
Come to think about it, I made some major changes to all my pages right before this happened. I was waiting for a crawl to see what the results would be when the site was hijacked.
Funny, I didn't check the #50 link in the SERPs for a few days assuming it was my link. I mean, I would search my key phrase, see the link at #50 and think to myself, "Well, I am still at the same spot I was yesterday." Think of the surprise I got when I rolled over the link and noticed the link going to notmysite.com! And now my page GONE!
When I go to the SEO company that has the meta refreshes (the thousands of links) and run the php link through an html checker to get the meta refresh, I am getting a refresh that may be triggering click throughs to a major search engine company. One that might even be listed as a forum on this site.
I need verification of this and whether I am on to something.
I don't want to jeopordize my company or any of my sites, so I need someone with knowledge of word bids, click throughs, etc.
Please, only mods, admins or seniors.
This is getting me scared.
How about this
1) Take a snaphot of a Google-cached page crediting the copyright to the wrong site.
2) Take a snapshot of the meta redirect code (by disabling such redirects in your browser).
3) Hire a lawyer.
4) Slap Google and the cheating scumbag site jointly with a 100 billion dollar lawsuit - that would probably be the largest claim for punitive damages in history. If that doesn't attract some publicity, we can only assume Google have secretly bought the world's news media.
On the matter of which of two or more pages is original, the only valid test is which page was first indexed. However, if Google don't keep that information then it isn't possible. That being the case, duplicates should only be removed if they are on the same site.
shamed into fixing
This is a good point. Now that I fully understand the issues, I have got to say I'm outraged. None of my sites have been hijacked, yet, but this is something I should not have to worry about. As the news spreads, it is going to become more and more common.
Fixing this should be priority one for Google.
1) folks going to pubcon getting straight answers out of Google reps.
2) Bay area folks picketing the google-plex (I'm willing to join in). I'm thinking if we can get twenty or so of us down there with signs for half a day and alert the news, this problem will be fixed within a few days.
I think this aspect frustrates me the most... because the fix to change how to handle 301 and 302 redirects is seemingly simple there *has* to be some reason why it can't just be done simply. I have seen a good number of page hijackers are selling clicks. The search companies have branched off into marketing as a primary focus it seems and maybe this is one of the results.
also, was wondering if periodically varying the wording of the index page's title might help.
I'm sure a class action lawyer wouldn't mind getting some press for this.
This is very disturbing, especially if monitary gains are being made by the people doing this.
Do no evil? huh.... sounds pretty evil to me.