The Google warning sign you’ve been hacked

The Google warning sign you've been hacked

You know, just because you work to get your site up in the rankings doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. I recently went away for a few weeks and didn’t do my usual monitoring of the sites I watch.

In just a matter of two weeks one site went from a 12 ranking almost up over 100. I found this when I got back and immediately took care of the problem, but if I hadn’t been monitoring the site it would have continued to slide downward unchecked. That’s the thing: you’ve always got to be monitoring and repairing your site for the best rankings.

The first thing you should monitor is the ranking itself. If your site stays steady on the first or second page of Google for months, then suddenly takes a dive down three or four pages, there’s a reason. Maybe you’ve changed your site and added something Google doesn’t like. But it could be something out of your control, like overseas hackers that are increasingly slipping in the back door of sites and taking up residence behind the scenes. The way you can find this out is with the next thing to check: your index.

Take a look at your index by typing site:your web address into the search box. Just add site: to the beginning of your URL, then do a search. Look down the list of pages indexed. If it’s a huge number, the odds are good you’ve been hacked. You may see pages selling cheap NFL jerseys or fake Coach purses. You need to plug that security leak first, by installing a two-tier password system or plugin. Once you fix the leak, you need to get rid of all those hacked pages. Your site’s rankings should rise back up almost immediately.

Jim Stewart is a leading expert in search engine optimisation. His business StewArt Media has worked with clients including Mars, M2 and the City of Melbourne.

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