Pharma Hack - Cleaned Up Now - Impact on SEO?

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  • SEO
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Hey everyone. I have a question.

I noticed that organic search traffic was down for one of my sites, so I began to investigate what might be wrong. I wanted to know why the search engines were suddenly ignoring my site.

This site is 3 years old. High quality. Has survived all the google algo updates like Panda, Penguin, etc.

The first thing I checked was Majestic SEO. And I noticed something really strange. My site usually shows 1,000 quality backlinks; but now it is suddenly showing over a million backlinks.

Upon further investigation, I found that all the new backlinks were from hacked sites, and they were all using pharma anchor text such as "Buy Viagara" and "Cheap Cialis" etc.

When I inspected my site, I found 500 new posts, all having to do with pharma. The million new backlinks were pointing to these 500 new posts.

I cleaned up my site, deleted the 500 pharma posts, and did a fresh clean wordpress install. So my site is clean now.

But there are still a million pharma backlinks from thousands of hacked sites all pointing to URLs that no longer exist (now they show a 404 page).

Before this, my site was ranking for hundreds of niche-specific keywords, and the site was making good adsense money. Now Google thinks my site is a pharma site.

So I need to tell the search engines to disregard those backlinks, but I don't know how. I suppose I could use Webmaster tools to "Disavow Links" but I can't do that for a million backlinks.

The million backlinks are all pointing to 500 specific URLs. As I said, those URLs no longer exist on the site. So if you go to one of those URLs, you will get the 404 page.

So here is my question. Will the search engines understand that all these links are now pointing to a 404 page and are therefore irrelevant?

If not, what can I do about all these backlinks?

Here's an idea. I can set up a 301 redirect for those 500 URLs. I can redirect to a non-resolving domain. Then the millions of backlinks will bounce off my site and redirect to nothing. So all the real backlinks will point to real URLs. And the bad backlinks will redirect and resolve to nothing. Google will eventually crawl all those backlinks and realize that they are pointing to nothing, not even a 404 page.

Do you think this might help?

Any other ideas?
#cleaned #hack #impact #pharma #seo
  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Maguire
    Originally Posted by culpetm View Post

    Hey everyone. I have a question.

    I noticed that organic search traffic was down for one of my sites, so I began to investigate what might be wrong. I wanted to know why the search engines were suddenly ignoring my site.

    This site is 3 years old. High quality. Has survived all the google algo updates like Panda, Penguin, etc.

    The first thing I checked was Majestic SEO. And I noticed something really strange. My site usually shows 1,000 quality backlinks; but now it is suddenly showing over a million backlinks.

    Upon further investigation, I found that all the new backlinks were from hacked sites, and they were all using pharma anchor text such as "Buy Viagara" and "Cheap Cialis" etc.

    When I inspected my site, I found 500 new posts, all having to do with pharma. The million new backlinks were pointing to these 500 new posts.

    I cleaned up my site, deleted the 500 pharma posts, and did a fresh clean wordpress install. So my site is clean now.

    But there are still a million pharma backlinks from thousands of hacked sites all pointing to URLs that no longer exist (now they show a 404 page).

    Before this, my site was ranking for hundreds of niche-specific keywords, and the site was making good adsense money. Now Google thinks my site is a pharma site.

    So I need to tell the search engines to disregard those backlinks, but I don't know how. I suppose I could use Webmaster tools to "Disavow Links" but I can't do that for a million backlinks.

    The million backlinks are all pointing to 500 specific URLs. As I said, those URLs no longer exist on the site. So if you go to one of those URLs, you will get the 404 page.

    So here is my question. Will the search engines understand that all these links are now pointing to a 404 page and are therefore irrelevant?

    If not, what can I do about all these backlinks?

    Here's an idea. I can set up a 301 redirect for those 500 URLs. I can redirect to a non-resolving domain. Then the millions of backlinks will bounce off my site and redirect to nothing. So all the real backlinks will point to real URLs. And the bad backlinks will redirect and resolve to nothing. Google will eventually crawl all those backlinks and realize that they are pointing to nothing, not even a 404 page.

    Do you think this might help?

    Any other ideas?
    No No No No No....This story does not make any sense at all. And I find it very hard to believe you.

    I spent the first half of my life, learning to spot when people are lying. And the second half of my life, using that ability to make money.

    They hacked your site
    Published articles on your site (500 of them)
    Then did SEO link building of 1mil links
    And you never noticed til your traffic dropped

    Then the flip side to that is

    You monitor your site well enough to know the exact number of "quality links" your site has (1000).
    You monitor your site well enough to know that it makes good Adsense earnings.
    You monitor your site well enough to know it had survived every algo update.

    But crazily
    You missed 500 new posts and a million Majestic crawled links.
    Instead of just skimming your traffic, which would go unnoticed by most webmasters. The hackers set about this elaborate plan. Of hacking, article writing, affiliate marketing and SEO link building.


    Here's what really happened

    You had a good site making nice money.
    It was holding up well against updates.
    You got a little greedy, and thought you could piggy back 500 new posts off the already authority site you had.
    You paid or either did yourself. Some kind of non stop blasting.
    It worked for a while.
    Then your site got whacked by Google.

    And now your here, making up an elaborate story about these new breed Hacking SEO article marketers. In the hope that We won't come down on you with laughter for your mistakes.

    Well thats how I see it.
    Good luck with everything.

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    • Profile picture of the author culpetm
      Originally Posted by Kevin Maguire View Post

      The hackers set about this elaborate plan. Of hacking, article writing, affiliate marketing and SEO link building.
      No it wasn't an "elaborate plan". It's called the Pharma Hack.

      http://www.pearsonified.com/2010/04/...harma-hack.php

      And yes the Pharma Hackers actually build backlinks from other hacked sites.

      This article from Brad Decker confirms it:

      http://www.lyntonweb.com/blog/bid/89...acked-Now-What

      He writes, "When your site was hacked the domain name was sent to a repository that these black hat hackers have been using to spam links to. You now have lots and lots of backlinks from horrible websites that have nothing to do with your content."

      So the question is... what do I do about all those spammy backlinks from other hacked sites?
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  • Profile picture of the author PerformanceMan
    Tough love is still love
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    • Profile picture of the author culpetm
      Kevin,
      I understand your suspicions, but I can assure you I didn't blast a million pharma backlinks to my site.

      Here's a screenshot from Majestic showing some of the anchor text that was used:



      And here's a screenshot showing how many backlinks were created:



      And here's a screenshot from google showing four of the 500 pages that were created on my site. These pages are still indexed in google even though I deleted them from my site.



      This was a Pharma hack, pure and simple.

      Does anyone else want to weight in on the original question?

      Thanks.

      -Tim
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    I looked at the Google Cache (text version) for the #1 position page in that last screenshot, that's not even an article the spammer posted, it's automated spun gibberish with stuffed keywords.

    OP, I see your running Wordpress, you might have installed a WP theme or WP plugin that was hacked before it was installed on your site.

    I have a feeling you're in the middle of a SAPE link builders spamfest.

    [related thread]
    How to check your site for base64 links

    If it's a base64 hacked theme/plugin, deleting the content probably won't do much until the problem theme/plugin is fixed.
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    • Profile picture of the author culpetm
      Originally Posted by yukon View Post

      I looked at the Google Cache (text version) for the #1 position page in that last screenshot, that's not even an article the spammer posted, it's automated spun gibberish with stuffed keywords.

      OP, I see your running Wordpress, you might have installed a WP theme or WP plugin that was hacked before it was installed on your site.

      I have a feeling you're in the middle of a SAPE link builders spamfest.

      [related thread]
      How to check your site for base64 links

      If it's a base64 hacked theme/plugin, deleting the content probably won't do much until the problem theme/plugin is fixed.
      @yukon

      Thanks for the tip. You were right. My site was showing all the symptoms of a base64 hack. The 500 posts that the hack created were not visible when I went to the links in my browser, but when I used the Webmaster Tools "Fetch as Google" tool, I could see the hacked content.

      I installed a brand new WP installation and theme. And I've gotten rid of all the plugins I was using. Now Webmaster Tools "Fetch as Google" does not show the hacked content anymore. It's gone!

      Regarding what to do with all the spammy backlinks, I did some research and I've discovered that I can disavow entire domains. I don't have to disavow a million backlinks. The million backlinks came from about 500 domains. So I've simply uploaded the 500 spammy domains to the Google WMT Disavow tool. This should take care of all one million backlinks.

      Thanks for the help!

      Originally Posted by Hogre View Post

      Pharma hack is real and it happens...
      @Hogre
      Thanks for that too...
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Maguire
    Listen Tim,
    I wasn't going to swing back here to post again and have some kind of argument with you. But here I am, So that idea went out the window.

    I personally think your lying. It's "pure and simple". It's how you told your story. The choice of words and phrases, and how you constructed them into sentences.

    I'll bold a few things here to look at.

    Originally Posted by culpetm View Post

    Hey everyone. I have a question.

    I noticed that organic search traffic was down for one of my sites, so I began to investigate what might be wrong. I wanted to know why the search engines were suddenly ignoring my site.

    This site is 3 years old. High quality. Has survived all the google algo updates like Panda, Penguin, etc.

    The first thing I checked was Majestic SEO. And I noticed something really strange. My site usually shows 1,000 quality backlinks; but now it is suddenly showing over a million backlinks.

    Upon further investigation, I found that all the new backlinks were from hacked sites, and they were all using pharma anchor text such as "Buy Viagara" and "Cheap Cialis" etc.

    When I inspected my site, I found 500 new posts, all having to do with pharma. The million new backlinks were pointing to these 500 new posts.

    I cleaned up my site, deleted the 500 pharma posts, and did a fresh clean wordpress install. So my site is clean now.

    But there are still a million pharma backlinks from thousands of hacked sites all pointing to URLs that no longer exist (now they show a 404 page).

    Before this, my site was ranking for hundreds of niche-specific keywords, and the site was making good adsense money. Now Google thinks my site is a pharma site.

    So I need to tell the search engines to disregard those backlinks, but I don't know how. I suppose I could use Webmaster tools to "Disavow Links" but I can't do that for a million backlinks.

    The million backlinks are all pointing to 500 specific URLs. As I said, those URLs no longer exist on the site. So if you go to one of those URLs, you will get the 404 page.

    So here is my question. Will the search engines understand that all these links are now pointing to a 404 page and are therefore irrelevant?

    If not, what can I do about all these backlinks?

    Here's an idea. I can set up a 301 redirect for those 500 URLs. I can redirect to a non-resolving domain. Then the millions of backlinks will bounce off my site and redirect to nothing. So all the real backlinks will point to real URLs. And the bad backlinks will redirect and resolve to nothing. Google will eventually crawl all those backlinks and realize that they are pointing to nothing, not even a 404 page.

    Do you think this might help?

    Any other ideas?



    Start of your response

    Kevin,
    I understand your suspicions, but I can assure you
    Ok, the words, phrases and sentences Bold in Black, I have marked to have a look at.

    Are they the writings of someone who has been a victim of a crime? Two crimes actually.
    His site has been hacked (Privacy Invasion)
    He has lost e potential huge amount of money. He said the site made Good Adsense money, that's gone potentially for a long time.

    A victim wouldn't be so dramatic in describing the events either. Try to create suspense, mental imagery and sympathy, from the readers.

    I made marks in red for showing things a member of WF, who was a victim of such a crime would not do, before coming straight to this forum for help.

    In your second response.
    Your response to me is empathy. A victim of a crimes response would be irate.

    But anyway, that's just how I see it. And this is not a Court Room, And you are not on trial.

    To answer your original OP.

    If its the whole site that's tanked. Certainly I would go the Disavow tool route. I would also be submitting to Google, this exact story you have told us here.
    You could contact your hosting also, for a written statement. If it was a brute force attack. They would surely still have all the server logs for when it happened. This might help you sway Google in your favor a little.

    Good luck anyway
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    • Profile picture of the author Hogre
      Originally Posted by Kevin Maguire View Post

      Listen Tim,
      I wasn't going to swing back here to post again and have some kind of argument with you. But here I am, So that idea went out the window.

      I personally think your lying. It's "pure and simple". It's how you told your story. The choice of words and phrases, and how you constructed them into sentences.

      I'll bold a few things here to look at.



      Ok, the words, phrases and sentences Bold in Black, I have marked to have a look at.

      Are they the writings of someone who has been a victim of a crime? Two crimes actually.
      His site has been hacked (Privacy Invasion)
      He has lost e potential huge amount of money. He said the site made Good Adsense money, that's gone potentially for a long time.

      A victim wouldn't be so dramatic in describing the events either. Try to create suspense, mental imagery and sympathy, from the readers.

      I made marks in red for showing things a member of WF, who was a victim of such a crime would not do, before coming straight to this forum for help.

      In your second response.
      Your response to me is empathy. A victim of a crimes response would be irate.

      But anyway, that's just how I see it. And this is not a Court Room, And you are not on trial.

      To answer your original OP.

      If its the whole site that's tanked. Certainly I would go the Disavow tool route. I would also be submitting to Google, this exact story you have told us here.
      You could contact your hosting also, for a written statement. If it was a brute force attack. They would surely still have all the server logs for when it happened. This might help you sway Google in your favor a little.

      Good luck anyway
      Are you for real?

      LOLz...we've got Sherlock over here.

      Pharma hack is real and it happens...which you'd know had you bothered to read a few posts that came before yours.

      You like belittling new members and ridicule them?

      That says a lot about your character,son.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Maguire
    Originally Posted by culpetm View Post


    Any other ideas?
    Yeah,
    I was at a Charlie Sheen party yesterday, Sorry about that Tim.
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    • Profile picture of the author culpetm
      Originally Posted by Kevin Maguire View Post

      Yeah,
      I was at a Charlie Sheen party yesterday, Sorry about that Tim.
      Ha Ha! No problem, brother!
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      • Profile picture of the author Kevin Maguire
        Originally Posted by culpetm View Post

        Ha Ha! No problem, brother!
        I'll leave it up for a bit of fun though, if you don't mind. By the time they get to reading here. Half the forum will now know. I'm a nutjob!!!

        I can take it.

        Oh p.s If you do pass on info to Google. Don't tell them what I said .

        I'm being interviewed to replace Matt Cutts as Head of Webspam next week.
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