Weekly SEO news: 2 March 2010
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

Proxy hijacking still seems to be an issue on Google. Other websites might steal your website content and they can outrank your web pages on Google with the stolen content. Is your website affected? What can you do against these hijackers?

In the news: Google sometimes returns different results to Firefox users, Yahoo is on the decline, malware sites exploit the Chile earthquake, Bing improves auto-suggest and more.

Table of contents:

We hope that you enjoy this newsletter and that it helps you to get more out of your website. Please pass this newsletter on to your friends.

Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Is your website exploited by proxy hijackers?

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.

content thief

What is proxy hijacking?

Proxy hijacking works like this:

  1. Google's web crawler Googlebot visits a website, for example www.theshadyproxy.com.

  2. 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

  3. Googlebot thinks that the contents of your website are actually the contents of www.theshadyproxy.com.

  4. 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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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

Is Google cloaking results to Firefox users?

"I discovered this morning that Google is cloaking results based on either your user agent or possibly based on the extensions you are running in Firefox. [...] Some people confirm my results while others are seeing the same thing in FireFox and Chrome."

Yahoo The steady, efficient decline of Yahoo

"Yahoo’s strategy seems more like 'ready, aim, aim, aim, aim…' [...] Yahoo will continue to shrink as sites are sold off and shuttered, and CEO Carol Bartz works on those efficiency gains. But this is no longer even close to an exciting company that thrives on chaotic creativity. Yahoo’s foundation is rotten. They have no plan to get back into the game. Or if they do have a plan, no one knows about it."

Tsunami blackhat SEO begins

"Unfortunately, as Graham Cluley regularly blogs, any breaking news topic tends be exploited by hackers who use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to lure people to visit their malicious pages. [Saturday's] news of a large earthquake in Chile seems to be no exception.

The second link in my search results for the most popular trending topics on Google seemed suspicious. [The web page] ultimately redirects your browser to a domain known to SophosLabs as a malware repository."

BingBing adds your search history to auto-suggest

"Autosuggest now supports suggestions from your query history. [...] 44% of non-navigational search sessions last longer than 1 week! Perhaps you need to research the purchase of a new automobile. You might use Bing to find a retail location and to further research online – over many days – to make the best decisions on your big ticket purchase.

With history support in Autosuggest, you can restart a previous search session by typing a few characters to see your previous queries and start researching right where you left off."

Search engine newslets

  • Study: web portals become important news sources.
  • Discussion: Twitter users don't click on Google AdSense ads.
  • Twitter's ad plan: copy Google.
  • Google's Matt Cutts: Should we create a mobile version of our site? (video)
  • Matt Cutts: How will Google search work with pages built with GWT? (video)
  • Google CEO Eric Schmidt circa 1986.
  • Rupert Murdoch ready to sue Google?
  • Google, Microsoft spar on antitrust.
  • Why Google pushed Buzz out the door before it was ready.

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3. Success stories

"From zero to Google hero."

18 months ago 'We Are A Knockout' was a dismal failure in terms of Google ranking and all SEO factors.

The site had no incoming links, it was poorly HTML coded, etc... This site had just about every SEO mistake in the book!

In 2009 working with a new web design company (www.digitalidiom.co.uk) we revamped the site design completely... not only did it look better, more importantly we had it SEO'd using IBP11.

OK fast forward to now - the last 9 months we are now regularly on page 1 Google, have various #1 keywords and incredibly our bookings have gone up by a MASSIVE 300% - We had a great summer. Prove indeed it's possible to go from Google zero to Google Hero."
Martin Birtwhistle, www.we-are-a-knockout.co.uk

Tell us how IBP helped your business and 250,000 readers will see YOUR website

Let us know how IBP has helped you to improve your website and we might publish your success story with a link to your website in this newsletter. The more detailed your story is, the better.

Click here to tell us your story.


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4. Previous articles

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