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New Google Spam Method? Re-routing through two domains to duplicate content

     
11:30 am on Oct 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

I ranked #1 for a non-competitive keyword, which brought little traffic...so this isn't a big loss.

Here's the problem.

Tonight when doing a G search for a long-tailed keyword, I noticed a new site on top (for years I'd been #1). The description shown in Google was identical to what I used on my own page, so I was curious. The domain shown in the search results was a .org. I clicked on the search results and passed through that .org domain and ended up at a .us domain.

The full domain I ended up at had a very weird structure. I can't post it here in full obviously, but I'll post the format:

domain.us/?domain.org

I found several things interesting about this.

First, the domain.us had no content on the home page - basically it was a "copy" of a very popular retailers website.

Second, the domain.org shown both in Google's search results and the domain.org part of the url format shown above is a totally legitimate website - on a completely different topic.

Third, when I clicked on the cache of the page shown in G's results - there was my entire web page, right down to the full source code, javascript, full navigation and home page banner.

So basically what this site did was to fool Google into thinking my entire web page (source code and all) in fact belonged to a legitimate and popular .org website. It then managed to get Google to display that in the search results. When the search results are clicked, the link then somehow seamlessly re-routes past that .org domain to their own .us domain name that is a carbon copy of a major retailers website.

Pretty neat trick. With the Christmas season up us, I imagine this site is getting a heck of a lot of traffic.

Needless to say, my own page was then penalized for "duplicate content" and is nowhere to be found in the index.

Any ideas on what this site did and how they did it? And what, if anything, can I do about it?
5:09 pm on Oct 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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You can you use a header checker to see what is happening. Are we talking 301, 302, meta refresh, something else? Knowing this information will help everyone better discuss what is happening.
11:09 pm on Oct 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Using a header checker extension for chrome, it said the following:

Status: HTTP/1.1 302 Moved Temporarily

Perhaps not surprisingly, I noticed a location in China during the process.
12:24 pm on Oct 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I saw a lot of this kind of thing around 4th of July. Tons of .org sites. Google eventually deindexed most of them, but it took a couple months.
4:24 am on Oct 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Normally I'd think the .org was the tld, but I'm thinking it's possible the part after the ? is a query and treated as literal characters. So a script on the domain.us would serve content (a page) based on the query string. If that page was 302 directed to your site, Google could index and cache the page from your site. Remove the 302 redirect and Google will serve serps based on the indexed page(effective copy of your site), but deliver users to the domain.org page or redirect to yet another page.

I very well might be incorrect about the query part, that isn't my strongest point, but the rest sounds very close to how people would fake page rank. It isn't built to last, so it will go away on it's own as netmeg mentions.
9:28 pm on Oct 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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302 redirect hijacking has been around a long time - I thought that Google had closed it off years ago. I was very surprised and disappointed to see this thread.
10:20 pm on Oct 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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302 redirect hijacking has been around a long time - I thought that Google had closed it off years ago. I was very surprised and disappointed to see this thread.


I don't know much about 302 re-directs beyond a few snippets I've read online, but isn't this instance different in one way....the addition of a third website to the mix? Usually 302 redirect hijacking involves the hijacker taking credit for my own web page, and having Google display the hijackers website in their SERPS.

What seems different int his case is the addition of the third website, in this case a legitimate and popular .org website. What I found very unique is how the .us domain managed to get Google to think my page was part of a legitimate .org website, yet then somehow was able to redirect the traffic from that .org website to their .us domain.
10:40 pm on Oct 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Normally I'd think the .org was the tld, but I'm thinking it's possible the part after the ? is a query and treated as literal characters. So a script on the domain.us would serve content (a page) based on the query string.

Well, sure, but how would you make g### think the page "really" belongs to the dot org of the query rather than the dot us of the hostname? Is there the smallest shred of possibility that the real dot org was hacked? Or is this another of those "via this intermediate figment of the imagination" setups?
5:28 am on Nov 13, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Thought I'd provide an update.

On November 1st, Google finally dropped the domain.us/?domain.org from their index.

A few days later, everything from my first post then happened again - except using a different domain.us and a different domain.org (and once again, the domain.org was a fully legitimate website while the domain.us was a clone of a popular merchant website).

Then a few days ago, that "new" domain.us was dropped from the index.

Of course, my page(s) that were copied during all this are nowhere to be found in Google. Indeed, even doing a full url search doesn't bring up my pages. So it seems my pages have been totally nuked, no doubt due to some form of a duplicate content penalty.

My question is, are my pages that were copied during this fancy 302 re-direction scheme gone for good? Should I nuke my own pages because of this, perhaps by substantially re-writing them? Or will the pages make a come back on their own someday?
8:49 pm on Nov 13, 2015 (gmt 0)

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no doubt due to some form of a duplicate content penalty.

I don't think Google has a duplicate content "penalty".

A lot of my articles have been scraped and republished on other sites numerous times. If I search for a long snippet of text from one of these articles (within quotation marks), the article on my site is always number 1, but usually many pages on other sites containing the re-published article are also listed. In other words, many pages with the same content (my original plus many of the copies) are indexed.

So you might try this ( searching for snippets of text from your pages) and see what you find.

If you can't find your pages at all, anywhere, one possibility is that Google's algorithm "thinks" that you were involved in the scheme. Or I suppose that another possibility is that Google has killed that content totally because of the duplicity, although this seems unlikely to me.
2:27 am on Nov 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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A lot of my articles have been scraped and republished on other sites numerous times. If I search for a long snippet of text from one of these articles (within quotation marks), the article on my site is always number 1, but usually many pages on other sites containing the re-published article are also listed. In other words, many pages with the same content (my original plus many of the copies) are indexed.

What concerns me is that the article itself wasn't just copied - it was the "entire page," source code and all. Basically, the whole scheme fooled Google into thinking my page (source code and all) was part of two different and popular .org websites.

It's why I'm thinking there must be some sort of penalty involved.

If you can't find your pages at all, anywhere, one possibility is that Google's algorithm "thinks" that you were involved in the scheme. Or I suppose that another possibility is that Google has killed that content totally because of the duplicity, although this seems unlikely to me.

I did a search for various snippets of the article (it's a long article), to see if any other sites were using contente and was unable to find other sites using the content. So I guess in a way that is "good news." But of course, my pages caught up in this whole thing also are missing.