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My site was doing very well in the SERPs. For over 2 years it had been on the first page for a competitive term (1.2 million listings). Then during the first week in January my site disappeared and traffic tanked for no obvious reason.
When searching for "site:www.mydomain.com" I noticed that my index page often wasn't listed or it appeared on about page 3 or 4 of the results after all my supplimental pages.
A search for "allinurl:mysite.com" often didn't show my index page at all but instead showed somebody else's domain (located in Turkey). When I clicked on this link, my site came up. When I clicked on the cached version of the site, it showed a very old cache of the page. This same site also showed up after all my results when doing a "site:www.mydomain.com"
Using a header checker tool on the site's URL I was able to see it was using a 302 link to my site.
Last night after reading some posts by crobb305 and others I went to Google.com and clicked on "About Google." Then I clicked on "Webmaster Info." Then I clicked on "I need my site information removed." Then I clicked on "remove individual pages." Where I found instructions on how to remove the page.
(Here's the exact page where I ended up. If mod needs to remove then snip away:) [google.com...]
I then clicked on the "urgent" link.
1. I signed up for an account with Google and replied back to them from an email they sent me;
2. I added the "noindex" meta tag according to their instructions and uploaded it to my site;
3. Using the instructions to remove a single page from the Google index, I added the hijacker's URL that was pointing to my site. (copy and paste from the result found on "allinurl" search)
This didn't work the first time because I had to remove a space from the url to get it to work.
4. I got a message back saying that the request would be taken care of within 24 hours. The URL that I entered showed on the uppper right hand part of the screen saying "removal of (hijacker's url)pending."
5. I then removed the "noindex" meta tag from my page and re-uploaded it to my site.
This morning the google account still shows the url removal as "pending" but when I do "site:" and "allinurl" searches the offending URL is gone and my index URL is back.
Conclusions and Speculations:
At some point last September, Google cached the hijack page's url pointing to my site. In January, Google penalized my site for duplicate content because it found both URL's and compared them. Mine got penalized because it was the only page that really existed. The hijacker's page didn't get penalized because it only existed as a re-direct to my site.
Because my index page was now penalized, it dropped almost completely from the SERPs. (Some of my suppliement pages showed up for obscure searches) but none of my money terms.
Because I haven't been able to get a response from the hijacker's webmaster, the 302 is still in place but it is buried deep in his site and the last Google cache of the page was sometime in September. Therefore with some luck Google won't re-index it any time soon.
Will my site return to the SERPs? I don't know. Any thoughts?
The risk of taking your site offline - all robots (and visitors) who visit during this time will get a 404.
Try adding the META tag in my previous post to the page the hijack points at and then remove the tag after you remove the URL's. The only risk is that googlebot will be turned away (for that page) during this time if it is normally crawling your site at the same time.
What this tag does is the removal tool sends googlebot to see if the page exists before it gives a 'successful' this tag will stop googlebot in it's tracks and return a 404.
Again, I don't blame webmasters for being skiddish about using this technique. Chances are, they are like my site, which relies on other search engines to stay viable. My question in an earlier post was:
Wouldn't it be better to have a meta tag that only excludes google from indexing for that short period of time?
If someone's site has been hit with this problem, chances are that googlebot isn't even visiting much anymore. I think we only average around 3 hits a day and I suspect that affected sites are seeing roughly the same. I believe this would be the meta tag:
<META NAME="googlebot" CONTENT="noindex,nofollow">
Wouldn't this be a safer solution than using "robots" in the place of "googlebot" in the above meta tag?
Sites that show up on an inurl:yoursite.com search are not necessarily hijackers
There are plenty of sites that may legitimately use your domain name in a url. For example, a site may link to your site inside a frame (
) or may have a page describing your site (
). These will both show up in a search for
because "yoursite.com" appears in their url. (Get it?) This is not a hijack.
To identify a hijack, you must search for site:yoursite.com
Only pages from your own site should come up in the results of a
search. If a page from another domain appears here, it's likely hijacking your content and needs a closer look.
Does the cache for the othersite.com page contain your content? Does the othersite.com page appear in a search for text that's unique to your page? If so, you've been hijacked.
The hijacking may be intentional/malicious or, more likely, unintentional. You can tell the two apart by clicking on the link. If you are redirected to your site, the hijack is probably unitentional. If you're redirected to the hijacker's content on othersite.com, they're maliciously using the hijack to drive traffic to their own site. In either case, using the remove url tool as described in post #1 of this thread should eliminate the hijacking URL.
I had a page on someone elses site that really needed the cache updating on, so I linked to it from a PR6 page on an unrelated site for just a few days - just long enough to see that Google had found it and recached it.
However, you need to know three other things:
- Once a page goes supplemental, the snippet that is shown against the supplemental result is never updated again even if the cache changes.
- Pages marked as supplemental might not be supplemental for all search queries. This is quite common.
- Google has two snippets stored away, one for supplemental results (which never changes) and one for ordinary results which updates when the cache updates (but maybe not at the same time, there can be a lag of a few days).