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Website Hacked - Rankings Still Not Recovered After Months

1:08 am on Feb 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Have been assigned to work on a project since last march, after a major hacking attack on this content-rich authority site which has also got some serious awards in the past.

Some Background

  • The site was hacked and viagra links were posted in many articles and sections, at the bottom of the page, which made it undetectable for several weeks (the company running it has a different priority than monitoring and properly maintaining this site).[/li]
  • The site has original content, but the owners are making deals with various companies which buy the content, while the original stays in place (creating duplicates).[/li]
  • The content is bought from some well known books by the top experts in the field, some with exclusive publishing rights and some with non-exclusive. It also features various press releases from industry related companies, which I also suspect of causing issues[/li]
  • Because in the country it originates, it is a well respected site (been online since 2000), it has gained some good quality links from embassies abroad, authoritative sites in this matter and many deeplinks from various sections of ODP.[/li]
  • The site also has an international (English) version which has never really kicked off, due to the fact that the english version was residing on both the country domain and the .com as duplicate (don't ask me why).[/li]
  • It was using a very old custom made CMS (which made it easy to hack), but because of the company's insistence to be redeveloped using ASP.net, we're having many problems with making all old urls redirect to the new ones, plus the url friendly urls need to have their respective id's in the path (widget/red-4.html)[/li]

What we did on the new site when it went live last Augoust, was to start manual redirections (the old site had all sorts of duplicate content and long tails of parameters after the ?)

As the SEO person on this project I started doing on page SEO stuff on all major sections and then filled a re-inclusion request back in early October.

The country specific version was being worked on by the development team up until 2 weeks ago, with constant changes to layout and new sections and widgets added, so it gradually started to kick off (in December).

The international version on the other hand is still pretty dead (less than 100 visits a day on average on topics with millions of searches according to google). The rankings just won't pick up at all and on this version there hasn't been the frequent (dev only) updates that have been on the country specific one.

To date the company is still in the process of adding and refining the old content into the new CMS (with new photos added as well) and because of the complexity of the content this process does take ages, at the expense of adding fresh (and not what we used to have) content.

In addition, because the english content was hosted on the country domain, most authoritative links are to pages on this domain which I am 301 redirecting to the international version.

There are still tons of redirects to do and due to the workload it is impossible to have the dev team work on a solution to redirect all old urls. Also some links in the content are linking to non-existing pages, so that is another thing that takes ages to sort.

What is best to do in such situation? I am baffled as I have tried fresh quality links, social media campaigns and other things I am forgetting now which have been doing for months with no success.

And I am a bit holding on re-submitting a reinclusion request, as I want to have the old content back, start putting in some fresh content (something which can't happen for the next couple of months). But still I wonder why the country specific one started reviving its competitive rankings and the international one just won't pick up...

Sorry for the long post... It's been a nightmare for everyone this project for months now and truly has great content to offer. Is like a huge investment going into the trashbin. Any help greatly appreciated.
8:24 am on Feb 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

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One thing to add regarding the new CMS... Even though quite seo friendly site, Still some changes I did back in October - November haven't made it into the index. A small homepage (changed title and meta tags, along with some code) change takes weeks to get into google. Some inner sections still show with titles and descriptions from pre-November....

Not sure how to approach this, as with so many redirects still not in place and some 404 links in the content, I would rather wait for filling up another reconsideration request.
4:25 pm on Feb 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

joined:May 26, 2000
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It is common among those who inject parasite content that they also point many backlinks to those pages. Have you checked for that kind of thing?

Also, if you haven't already, I'd suggest using Webmaster Tools, and particularly the "Fetch as googlebot" function. Once a server has been compromised, there may well be spam on the pages that is cloaked for googlebot, and this is a helpful utility for spotting that.
9:02 pm on Feb 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Is exactly what happened. I forgot to mention it as it is nearly a year ago that the hacking attack happened. Since August the site is running on a new CMS and I'd say over 60% of redirections are in place (all main sections on the previous site).

We are safe now but I think Google has put the site into a freeze. However as I noted above, the country specific domain started regaining rankings. The .com version is just frozen with 100 visits a day max.

Thanks Tedster!

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