So the other day, i was sitting on my laptop and posting a query on Google’s search engine to access Google’s SEO guide and what i saw was total bizarre. In the results, there were other sites above the Google’s own website. So i started googling and found about the Google Hijack incidence.
Yes, you heard me right. Dan Sharp’s company screamingfrog.com performed an experiment and made Google believe that it’s website is the canonical version of their own Google search engine optimisation starter guide pdf. For a considerable period of time, their website was showing higher in rank for a lot of queries. So what do you think went wrong. Here is a list –
- Google’s page was not being indexed – The company found out that Google was using a 302 redirect on their SEO starter guide, which was hosted on a separate domain. While the ideal case in this case should be original url should be indexed rather than the target one, it was found out none of them was indexed.
- However neither url was indexed, they seemed to be struggling to understand the canonical and index their original content.
- Thirdly, Google was not using “noindex” and nothing was blocked via robots.txt
In such cases too, hijacking for the same content is usually done by the more authoritative website and which site can be more authoritative than the mighty Google with 2100 linking root domains to the original url and another 485 to the target one. Still Screaming Frog was able to hijack it. So what are the lessons that you learn from this incidence to save your website (which is obviously far less authoritative than Google) from hijacking.
- 302 Redirect can not be entirely blamed – This could be the reason to some point but putting the blame entirely on it is not healthy because that way you can overlook a lot of other points leading to the hijacking of your website. The company found a few other quirks around URLs changing over time and canonicalisation on HTTPS happening correctly so be very careful with all this.
- Use canonicals – This will help with the indexation of your website and thus less possibility of getting your website hijacked. You can also scan for missing canonical links in your http header from time to time using crawlers.
- Hijacking can still happen – So always keep a tab on your ranking and always look for any unusual activity. Keep your eyes and Google search engine open so that what happened with Google does not happen with you as your hijacker may not be doing for fun and could cause a serious damage to your website.