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Sometimes, an HTTP status 302 redirect or an HTML META refresh causes Google to replace the redirect's destination URL with the redirect URL. The word "hijack" is commonly used to describe this problem, but redirects and refreshes are often implemented for click counting, and in some cases lead to a webmaster "hijacking" his or her own URLs.
Normally in these cases, a search for cache:[destination URL] in Google shows "This is G o o g l e's cache of [redirect URL]" and oftentimes site:[destination domain] lists the redirect URL as one of the pages in the domain.
Also link:[redirect URL] will show links to the destination URL, but this can happen for reasons other than "hijacking".
Searching Google for the destination URL will show the title and description from the destination URL, but the title will normally link to the redirect URL.
There has been much discussion on the topic, as can be seen from the links below.
How to Remove Hijacker Page Using Google Removal Tool [webmasterworld.com]
Google's response to 302 Hijacking [webmasterworld.com]
302 Redirects continues to be an issue [webmasterworld.com]
Hijackers & 302 Redirects [webmasterworld.com]
Solutions to 302 Hijacking [webmasterworld.com]
302 Redirects to/from Alexa? [webmasterworld.com]
The Redirect Problem - What Have You Tried? [webmasterworld.com]
I've been hijacked, what to do now? [webmasterworld.com]
The meta refresh bug and the URL removal tool [webmasterworld.com]
Dealing with hijacked sites [webmasterworld.com]
Are these two "bugs" related? [webmasterworld.com]
site:www.example.com Brings Up Other Domains [webmasterworld.com]
Incorrect URLs and Mirror URLs [webmasterworld.com]
302's - Page Jacking Revisited [webmasterworld.com]
Dupe content checker - 302's - Page Jacking - Meta Refreshes [webmasterworld.com]
Can site with a meta refresh hurt our ranking? [webmasterworld.com]
Google's response to: Redirected URL [webmasterworld.com]
Is there a new filter? [webmasterworld.com]
What about those redirects, copies and mirrors? [webmasterworld.com]
PR 7 - 0 and Address Nightmare [webmasterworld.com]
Meta Refresh leads to ... Replacement of the target URL! [webmasterworld.com]
302 redirects showing ultimate domain [webmasterworld.com]
Strange result in allinurl [webmasterworld.com]
Domain name mixup [webmasterworld.com]
Using redirects [webmasterworld.com]
redesigns, redirects, & google -- oh my [webmasterworld.com]
Not sure but I think it is Page Jacking [webmasterworld.com]
Duplicate content - a google bug? [webmasterworld.com]
How to nuke your opposition on Google? [webmasterworld.com] (January 2002 - when Google's treatment of redirects and META refreshes were worse than they are now)
Hijacked website [webmasterworld.com]
Serious help needed: Is there a rewrite solution to 302 hijackings? [webmasterworld.com]
How do you stop meta refresh hijackers? [webmasterworld.com]
Page hijacking: Beta can't handle simple redirects [webmasterworld.com] (MSN)
302 Hijacking solution [webmasterworld.com] (Supporters' Forum)
Location: versus hijacking [webmasterworld.com] (Supporters' Forum)
A way to end PageJacking? [webmasterworld.com] (Supporters' Forum)
Just got google-jacked [webmasterworld.com] (Supporters' Forum)
Our company Lisiting is being redirected [webmasterworld.com]
This thread is for further discussion of problems due to Google's 'canonicalisation' of URLs, when faced with HTTP redirects and HTML META refreshes. Note that each new idea for Google or webmasters to solve or help with this problem should be posted once to the Google 302 Redirect Ideas [webmasterworld.com] thread.
<Extra links added from the excellent post by Claus [webmasterworld.com]. Extra link added thanks to crobb305.>
[edited by: ciml at 11:45 am (utc) on Mar. 28, 2005]
>> However, in most cases the pages still do just fine, except in the cases where the site the page belongs to most likely has been penalized.
Meaning not all, say my site is new?
>> The valuable clues come from analyzing why some pages from these redirect pages "get hijacked" while other pages, subject to the same redirect code, do not.
'While other pages, subject to the same redirect code, do not.'
The answer to this is what I mentioned earlier...
>> Since one of the heuristics to pick a canonical site was to take PageRank into account.
Loose English translation, 'one of the determining factors of attributing origination of content was PageRank...'
Logical conclusion: The site with the higher page rank had a beter chance of the content being attributed as theirs.
How can you gain anything valuable from knowing a site that has a higher PageRank will rank higher?
Yes, you are correct it was not (please note past tense) hurting high PageRank sites, but there is nothing you can learn from that, because there was an error in the algo...
What can you possibly learn except:
1. Have an old site.
2. Have higher PageRank than the hijacker, so you get credit for your content.
They certainly don't hurt, but neither of those guarantee anything at all. The problem is not consistent. The only consistent thing is Google calls links "pages". As long as they do that, problems of many kinds will occur.
In most cases the affected site placement in the serps varies depending upon if the &filter=0 or &filter=1 was appended. With the filter set to 0 the page appeared where it used to in the serps in the case with the filter set to 1 it appeared much further down in the serps. Please note the use of the weasel word most.
A classic example of this was when the home page of a site was hit. Japanese posted an example that got zinged by the mods, but not before I got a copy of the page saved.
Now for terminology:
I fully agree that this isn't a real true "hijacking" once again note the use of weasel words.
It is more of a domain poisioning, however the effect is to lower the target site's position in the serps and in the extreme take down the site using Google's (and others) various automated facilities to help the process along.
I wonder if Jane_Doe would care to sticky her sites' domain names to folks with the required scripts, a number of up and regularly spidered throwaway domains, and the time to play the game?
I'm certain that she would like to participate in verifying that Google is 100% correct in its handling of things since their last sets of changes.
Now why were the changes needed?
I don't own the sites I work on so I can't say oh here hit www.example.com with everything in the book.
The must have been some kind of filter at work because those 302s had the same cache as the original frontpage of a site, but why is that filter still active or is it a filter?
My guess would be, some sites may actually be still suffering a 'spam' penalty due to the wrongful attribution of originality, while G was using the old method of determining the origination of content.
Keep in mind the following examplification is of the previous method.
A site with a PR3 being 'hijacked' by a site with a PR5. All things being equal, the PR5 would have received credit for the content, while the PR3 would have been penalized for the content.
This highlites the necessity for the change in huristics (to accomodate a more accurate protocol) regarding interpretation of content origination.
Unfortunately, even after the implementation of the improved method, there is no way for G to know of, or review the all sites that may have been penalized in this manner...
In summarization: Unless it is brought to their attention, the penalty will still be enforced.
(The time and effort of arbitrarily checking all dup. content penalties, or other penalties which could be involved, would prohibit any feasibility.)
This seems to make logical sense, given the recommendation of GG, to make use of the 'reinclusion request' for sites that have fallen out of the index or been improperly penalized.
Maybe GG could comment if this summarization is possible or likely?
Some did try to sent a email to google about reinclusion with no luck and about a PR5 hijacking PR3, is not quiet the way it always was, my site was PR6 and the hijacker(not in there intension) was low PR if any because they also had a meta tag that did not allow google to spider there site, but anyway they replaced my site when I search www.mydomain.com in a google search, then ofcause all the other 302 links.
Im realy not a dum webmaster, but Im at the end in this matter, I think I will give it 2 month, then I will change domain and IP, its just sad that a 4 year old site has to be droped because google wanted to add 4 million more "sites".
Please, keep in mind my previous example was just a simple single example of what I believe contributed to bringing about the change. There are more examples that come to mind, but I was in 'fodder avoidance' mode.
I have used the 'reinclusion request' and had great effect. Within 48 hours everything relating to my site went 'supplemental' and then within another 48 hours, my pages started coming back, updated and unduplicated, the way they should have been.
When I sent my request, I did point out that I was already in the index, but wondered (very politely), since 'my exact situation' was occuring, had I been penalized? I further asked, if since the penalty I believed (302 dup) to be affecting my site, was not any of my doing, if they could look into fully reincluding my site.
Curiously, I did not receive a 'form' or 'canned' response. (Actually, except for noticing the SERP changes for my site, which was too coincidental to be an accident, I have received no communication from G.)
BTW Zeus, I would not gather, or imply that you are a dumb webmaster... EVER. We all do the best we can with what we have. I truely hope your reinclusion is sooner, rather than later.
Does google just see the white on white and not the blue background in the table? But my site is 5 years old and had top rankings for years with that same white text on the blue background in the table.
That is the only problem I could find? But I submitted a reinclusion request with no luck. I wish Google would just tell me what the problem is so I don't have to keep guessing. This bites!
How to id a 302?
It will appear with your title, your snippet, your page in the cache, someone elses URL. It may appear in a site:yoursite or may be filtered from you seeing it.
Try allinurl:yoursite any listings with
your snippet a cache of your page
someone elses URL
is a threat.
Upon further investigation it may be a page with a META refresh pointing at your site or it may be a script. It could be a page containing an amazon type snapshot of your page with a 302 redirect on the same page pointing at you.
These types of listings will poison a site's PR and slowly drag it into googles abyss.
What do I do if I find a 302 like this?
1. put a META tag on the page that is the target of the 302 link.
META name="googlebot" content="noindex,nofollow"
2. Submit the URL of the hijackers 302 link (that is pointing at the page you just added the META tag to) into google's URL removal tool. (nuke it)
3. Remove the META tag from the target page so that it can be crawled again.
ALL these steps are critical. Do it exactly as described.
This is NOT the answer for every website having trouble with google ranking. This is the answer for websites who HAVE a 302 hijack situation.
which returns a 302. This worked fine for many years. Now I've fallen from #1 to nowhere to be seen.
I've changed my redirects to:
header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently");
which now returns a 301. Hopefully problem solved.
Any ideas on how long before (if ever..) I regain my position in the SERP's?
joined:Nov 1, 2003
He told us to report spam penalties caused by the 302 redirecting at: [google.com...] , and to include "Reinclusion Request" in the subject line.
How will I know if a Spam Penalty has been removed or not? When I contacted Google using the above method, I just got an automated email response back that explained how to determine whether a site is currently included in the index.
[edited by: engine at 8:38 am (utc) on May 4, 2005]
[edit reason] formatting [/edit]
I have many inbound links with tracking paramaters that I use to track ads/links/partners. I get the paramater, plant a cookie and then redirect to the home page. I was using (PHP) for the redirect:
How have these links shown up in the SERP's?
The problem with 302 was that when someone linked to you (using certain criteria) then google would attribute the redirect as a page and assign that page the PR of the target. Even the SERP placement of the target too I suspect.
When did your site go down?
They did a 'fix' (we think) about 2 weeks ago. So if the 'fix' did it you may want to ponder that a bit. Because that's when 301's started 'acting strange', see the various 301 threads on WW.
In fact, the hijacker knows people go to the site, so now they have even made a full sales page out of this page! Of course the cache is different, hasn't moved since September. The new sales page is defintely about 2 weeks old.
I also see my rankings in allinanchor are doing really well, but of course my rankings have dropped out of site.
Still super frustrated without answers.
Be very careful though.
If you use
disallow: / in your robots.txt
and submit your robots.txt URL the removal tool will remove your entire site for 6 months, it's a knife on steroids.
Just remember - submit the hijackers URL into the tool after you cause that url to return a 404 (by making the target return a 404)
speda1 - end of March - that would be about the time google started tweaking things?
Since then it's hard to say exactly what a 301 or 302 will do in google - (it's top secret)
the 302's were stealing PR from the target (before the tweak) not sure what they do now.
You should read through some of those 301 threads
These began to occur shortly after the 'tweak'
All white hat site too, now nearly 11 months old. Yahoo loves the site and the funny thing is I use Adsense. I now get about 8 times more referrals from ASK than Google even though ASK has less pages in their index(450) versus Google (830).
We are awaiting results too after our reinclusion request for many pages lost with a loss of huge traffic Feb 3. Much spidering by Gbot since then but traffic still down 90+%. Google and certainly GG are not to blame here - rather the increasing number of blackhat SEO firms who force them to spend enormous money and time simply removing crap.
joined:Dec 29, 2003
put them in robtos.txt, 50 at a time. Of course tripple check it for
joined:July 19, 2002
We did have a reply when we wrote in about
the hijacker pages though.
joined:Dec 29, 2003
Today GB has asked for 300+ pages (so far), all are 404s so far since i changed the url format but eventually the new pages will kick in.
joined:Nov 1, 2003
Why do you think its asking too much to expect a reply?
joined:Dec 29, 2003
because they aren't setup that way to go back and forth.
Why was I penalized?
A: because of XXXX
But I did it because of this, it isn't so bad, is not fair, blah blah...
This way the avoid all that..if they need more info, they'll post here or ask you via the e-mail.
don't get me wrong, it would great, but it's too much and counter-productive for them to deal with.