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A few days ago I noticed that I lost half the traffic for my website overnight. Investigation showed that someone had made a perfect clone of my website (more info here), and that Google in its infinite wisdom had decided that my site is no longer relevant and replaced my site with the clone site on the first page of its search results!

I filed a DCMA complaint, and the offending site was delisted from search results a few days later.

However, I'm no longer on the front page of Google. In fact, for my main keywords, my main site is no longer in the search results at all. One of my "long tail" pages shows up on the 2nd or 3rd page, but the main homepage no longer shows up.

Will this be resolved in time, or is there something else I need to do about it?

EDIT: In response to the query of "maybe you just lost ranking for some other reason": I figured out that the clone is implemented as a a proxy so I can see its traffic as well. My site's traffic dropped the exact same day the clone started getting traffic, i.e. when it started showing up in Google's search results.

The question of "Why was this site even listed by Google" is a very valid question, and it would seem that Google is not so clever as they say they are, but that seems off-topic. At the moment I'm just trying to get my old position back.

  • I wouldn't see why your site got punished in the first place... if site B, C, D, E and F copy site A... Site B, C, D, E and F are marked duplicate, not A. It's likely you've been hit by their everyday Google's algorithm rather than a punishment for duplicate content. – Simon Hayter Jul 2 '14 at 12:57
  • @bybe No, I have the stats, since the clone is acting as a proxy I can see its traffic as well. My site's traffic dropped the exact same day the clone started getting traffic, i.e. when it started showing up in Google's search results. I'll add this to the question – CaptainCodeman Jul 2 '14 at 13:02
  • @bybe Yes the duplicate site should have been marked duplicate, but for some reason it was not. – CaptainCodeman Jul 2 '14 at 13:06
  • And you know that how? asides your rankings dropping which could be a coincidence. How did you test that? – Simon Hayter Jul 2 '14 at 17:20
  • Rankings have been stable for a year, if they happened to drop the exact same day the clone came up due to other causes, I should go play the lottery. – CaptainCodeman Jul 2 '14 at 18:47
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This is called Proxy Hacking, and for some inexplicable reason sometimes Google keep the proxy duplicate instead of yours.

Check those sources for further readings, which are really useful:

http://www.seofaststart.com/google-proxy-hacking/

Block their IP addres in .htacces and possibly implement a solution for bad bots and proxies.

I found a solution in PHP right here: http://www.seoegghead.com/blog/seo/how-to-guide-prevent-google-proxy-hacking-p210.html

And here is the code: http://www.seoegghead.com/blog/simplecloak-v2-php-implementation

  • Thanks for this, I didn't know that it was such a common problem! I can easily block the proxy IP; but my site is still unranked/delisted.. would that be resolved over time or do I need to do something else to get ranking again? – CaptainCodeman Jul 3 '14 at 8:52
  • The best thing is to implement a solution. If your site is under attack it's the only way to go. Check the code on the link I listed, basically it's done in sort to serve a copy of your page with a NOINDEX metatag if the request comes from a proxy / bad robot / scraper. – PHPstart Jul 3 '14 at 8:57
  • Normally you'll see that the proxy page will be then delisted from g.index – PHPstart Jul 3 '14 at 8:57
  • When the proxy page is delisted, will my site show up in the search results again? At the moment it's gone, even when I search for an exact sentence which is only on my page. – CaptainCodeman Jul 3 '14 at 10:15
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    Yes, DCMA is the best way to go, but keep in mind that more proxy could offend your site again... After having blocked the proxy and filed the DCMA complaint: put some fresh new content in your website, eventually slightly modify some already indexed content. Get a new link to force google and friends to recrawl and reindex your website. That should help too. – PHPstart Jul 3 '14 at 11:25
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Earlier, we discussed blocking the proxy. Since your DCMA complaint did not do what you or I expected, I would suggest redirecting these access to a page that explains the situation in a very short paragraph and offer a link to your site. This should very quickly short-circuit the problem and begin to drop the hijacker in the SERPs. I would be sure to use keywords such as copyright, content theft, and so on. Once this begins, you should begin to rise in the SERPs but I suspect it could take 30-60 days to really begin to bounce back. It could take longer to regain your positions in the SERPs pre-offense.

Personally, if you are in the U.S., I would take all of your evidence and hire an attorney. It does not cost too much to file a suit. You may find one who will work on a contingency (free to you). This is a federal offense and you should be able to not only collect damages, but punitive too. If you are not aware, just filing a federal civil law suit is a big deal for the accused and they face tens of thousands of dollars just defending the suit. You will be in a position of power as they will want to settle rather than go to court which may result in criminal charges as well. In civil cases where guilt is found or admitted to, the court is required to report any crime. This is a copyright issue as well as possible fraud and theft. And these are not light offenses. A judgement in your favor may result in near automatic jail time for the offender. That puts you in a very powerful position to recover losses plus some with little work on your part.

  • I'm in the UK, do you know if the rules are different here? – CaptainCodeman Jul 2 '14 at 18:49
  • Yes they are, but I suspect that you will still have good protection. I do not know the law in the U.K. I do know the law well enough in the U.S. – closetnoc Jul 2 '14 at 23:36
  • Thanks, I'll contact a local attorney and see what can be done! – CaptainCodeman Jul 4 '14 at 8:11
  • You are in the U.K. and I am sure something can be done. If website owners stand up and pound these guys into the ground, they may think twice. I know that in the U.S. anyone can file a federal law suit against a foreign entity. Collecting is another matter however. I wish you the best on this. This is clearly one of the most abusive copyright and clearly intended cases I have ever heard. – closetnoc Jul 4 '14 at 15:09

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