Preferred Member from US
joined:June 14, 2010
I though I would post a followup, for anyone finding themselves in a similar situation.
Symptoms of a Google Cache Hijack (Homepage only, in my case) -
- Sudden / Immediate traffic drop (In my case, from 1000's of daily Google referrals, to 100's)
- Referrals from obscure domain in logs.
- Lost the Answer Box result for previously shown phrase, as well as top 2 or 3rd organic result. Not found on first few pages of serps.
What I checked / result -
- Webmaster Console (WMT) for issues / errors. None found.
- Google Index status, using the "site:domain.tld" query in google search to see all pages indexed. Nothing seemed awry, links clicked through to site as expected, all of site was indexed.
- Checked cached version and date of home page. Found the cached version showed a different domain url. The url was formed: ahackedwebsite.tld/mydomainname.html. and the cache date was close to the same timestamp traffic dropped.
- Clicked on cache link, and it redirected back to Google with a 302 status code.
- Copied link into browser to view. Page was an exact "html source code" copy of the homepage of my site. Someone pretty much just visited the site, right-clicked and copied source code, saved as mydomainname.html. The absolute ONLY change in the source code, was the "canonical" which was changed to their url.
What I did to fix -
- Sent Webmaster of hacked site an email, and submitted a DMCA to host on the affected url.
- Back in GWT, I used the "Fetch and Render" tool to generate a fetch of my page.
- Requested indexing. My own experience with "requesting indexing" is that on some pages/sites, it can be an instant cache-refresh.On other pages or sites, it can take a few days. My understanding is that this is part of the index frequency gbot uses for that particular page or site.
- No change within 1 hour - incorrect cached url still in index.
- I went back to my own site, updated the content as I normally would, saved.
- Repeated the Fetch & Render as well as Request Indexing.
- Pinged / fetched from a few ping tools.
Waited... and wrote this post here looking for help.
The next day, the Webmaster removed the cached page from his website. Unfortunately, he used a 301 to his homepage, and didn't reply when I asked him to switch to a 404.
I visited the Google URL removal tool
[google.com] - and requested the cached url be removed. Be sure to include the full Google link they ask for.
- Repeated the Fetch & Render 2-3x per day, as well as Request Indexing.
2 Days later, (3-4 days total) the offending page was dropped from search cache, and our site and cached copy, was indexed as expected. The answer box result was back immediately, as well as the organic results in the same position.
Now... How to prevent this kind of thing?