Is your website exploited by proxy hijackers?Tuesday, March 9, 2010 1:08
Proxy hijacking is a problem that started several years ago. For several months, it looked as if Google had solved the problem. Last month, some webmasters reported that their website was hijacked by a proxy and that the position of their own website declined in Google's results.
What is proxy hijacking?
Proxy hijacking works like this:
- Google's web crawler Googlebot visits a website, for example www.theshadyproxy.com.
- The domain www.theshadyproxy.com does not have any content. Instead of providing its own pages to Googlebot, the proxy scrapes your website in real-time. This is usually done by adding the URL of the other website to the proxy URL: www.theshadyproxy.com/scrape/yourdomain.com
- Googlebot thinks that the contents of your website are actually the contents of www.theshadyproxy.com.
- Your website will be removed from the search results and the proxy page will get your old rankings.
How to check if your website has been hijacked
Perform a Google search for a phrase that is unique to your page. You should use a sentence or word combination that only appears on your page and nowhere else on the Internet.
Put the search phrase in quotation marks. For example, if you want to check if there are duplicates of this page, you could search for the following phrase on Google.com:
"Ultimately though, what matters the most to me is control. I have a simple rule of thumb, which is that I don’t put data somewhere that I can’t get it back."
If there is more than one web page in the search results (your page), examine the other web pages. If some of them are an exact copy of your web page, you might have found a proxy that has hijacked your web page content.
What can you do to protect your website against proxies?
Some people recommend that you should block unknown IP addresses in your server configuration. However, this is very risky. Chances are that you'll also block Google and other search engines.
If there's a small error in the blocking code, your website will disappear completely from the search results because search engines won't be able to index your web pages. There will also be problems when the search engines use new IP addresses for the web crawlers.
For that reason, we recommend that you monitor your website with a service like CopyScape. If you find a proxy server that steals your content, you can block the exact IP address in the .htaccess file of your server.
Google has made great progress in fighting proxy spam in their search results. If you find a proxy server that steals your rankings in Google's search results, report it to Google. Chances are that this proxy server will disappear from Google's results.
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