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Google have not come out and specifically said your site will rank higher in mobile if it is optimised for mobile but they may as well have. It the last 6 weeks there has been a flurry of activity around mobile search results which usually means a ranking signal change is on it’s way.

Smartphone crawl errors.

As we pointed out earlier this year, Google now considers redirecting your mobile users to an m dot version of your site an error or a “faulty redirect” unless it is an exact mirror of the desktop site for content. Then this week they launched a feature they had been testing for a while, labelling mobile friendly sites in the mobile search results as just that. This seems to have been useful for users as they have decided to make it a permanent feature. Three years ago I made this video about mobile search. It seems every year prior to the big sales in the US Google makes some mobile announcements. This year is no different.

Mobile Usability

A few weeks ago Google launched another mobile feature in Google webmaster tools. Mobile usability. If it’s in Google webmaster tools it will soon become a ranking signal just like everything else in Webmaster tools.

Mobile Usability

Mobile Usability Feature

If Google says something is an error you had better fix it.

More Mobile Announcements

Yesterday Google also announced more features for mobile shoppers. On their Google SHopping Blog they released some extraordinary numbers mainly that shopping searches alone coming from mobile have increased 3.5 times in just the last year. That is pretty amazing. Certainly we’re not seeing the same steep growth curve with most of our clients data but a 30% increase in mobile activity on last year’s numbers seems pretty standard.

From Penalty To Promotion

For over the last year Google has been hitting sites with a stick in mobile search results that are unfriendly. If you had lots of flash mobile users were warned off your site in search results, then your site was dropped in search results if you had “faulty redirects” . The next step in this evolution is that mobile optimised sites will be favoured over none optimised sites. Just how big of a ranking signal it will be remains to be seen. Like all of the ranking signals though, whoever has the most, wins.
Don’t forget you can ask your SEO questions directly here https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3383896930517362690

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Over A Million Pages Hacked For SEO

by Jim on November 19, 2014


Last week I brought you a story about a Melbourne retailer who’s SEO got clobbered. I soon worked out that the story was much bigger than I first thought and did a follow up the next day specifically about Ugg Australia. So far I have found over million web pages in the .com.au space that have been hacked by Chinese counterfeiters sell rip off brands. I found these pages just by examining three brands Ugg, Vuitton and Kors. As you will see from today’s video there are companies and organisations all over the world been affected by this.

Fixing SEO Post Hack

If you have been hacked usually it will fall into one or two broad categories. In the case of the counterfeiters they are just using your domain rent free to sell their stuff. A bit like someone setting up a shop inside your business without your knowledge. It’s annoying and definitely harmful to your SEO . If Google works out you’ve been hacked you will see a message like this.

Hacked SEO

Hacked Site Loses SEO

In the case of this example they lost their accommodation related rankings, a fairly big deal. If you fix your site properly you can get this notice removed in hours.

More Hacking To Come

I was talking to our head of development Jine and she explained that the Chinese Universities don’t teach PHP for the most part. They focus a lot on MS based technology, so there are a lot of excellent programers specialising in hacking MS sites. By the looks of it, there is good money in it too. Let’s hope they don’t start developing PHP experts any younger!

The Project Group Hacked

The Project Group Still Hacked


It looks like the magazine “That’s Life” has fixed their hacks although the Google index is still littered with the injected pages.
That's Life Hacked Results

That's Life Hacked Results


The index will clean up in time if you have fixed the hacks. In the case of Avon Lodge it has reduced by 50% but they have not gone into webmaster tools and alerted Google to the fix so they still have the hacked notice. If you have been hit let us know and we see if we can help.

SEO Webinar

It’s on again next week! Don’t miss out this time. We had over 100 people get locked out so we have increased capacity this month. Hope to see you there.
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3383896930517362690

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Ugg Australia SEO

by Jim on November 13, 2014

Since yesterday’s blog and video I’ve been doing some more digging on the problem. Here are the searches so far that will reveal sites compromised and copying someone else’s site.

inurl:wikihow1.asp

inurl:ugg.asp

You can add numbered variants on this and you will get even more results. So inurl:ugg6.asp gives results showing the problem. Just using inurl:ugg.asp shows 473,000 results. Most of these will be broken or compromised site. For instance the first result is The Australian Respiratory Council www.thearc.org.au . This is odd what Google has cached though. It is not a direct rip off of another site. It is a spun article page featuring gobbledegook but if you or I click the link we get redirected to www.shoestys.com which is a rip off of Uggaustralia.com

Australian Respiratory Council Hack

Australian Respiratory Council.. ahem

The redirect is not a 302 though but here is the really curious aspect of this compromised site; the actual URL that Google has indexed is www.thearc.org.au/template1.asp?uggb=9262-inurl-ugg-asp-.html . See the second half of that url? It is a dynamically generated one based on a search request. WTF. There’s others like that too http://www.ank.gr/menu.asp?uggb=9262-inurl-ugg-asp-.html. keep in mind that these pages have been indexed by Google and are redirecting users to a site that is copying Ugg Australia.

Microsoft Vulnerability

Yesterday Matt Cutts tweeted about a MS Server security problem. I asked him if it was related somehow to Ugg Australia affair.

matt-cutts-ms-server-tweet

Matt Cutts MS Server Tweet

So presumably Google (Matt Cutts is not working there at the moment) are at least familiar with this problem, yet the rip off pages are still ranking higher than the originals which would suggest to me that this is not an easy fix for Google.

See the original blog post on this story and the video

What Are The Odds?

You could just check with the Royal Statistical Society.. oh wait that’s right they have been hacked too.

Royal Statistical Society

Royal Statistical Society

The above image is a screen cap of the page http://www.rss.org.uk/test.asp?uggb=9262-inurl-ugg-asp-.html that Google has cached and of course this URL will redirect you to an Ugg Australia looking site.

Other Australian Sites Compromised

I thought I would start a list here of the Australian sites I find that have been compromised by this hack. These are all redirecting to an Uggs Australia copied site.

Yachtshareinternational.com.au

arc.org.au

wetlandcare.com.au

thatslife.com.au

augoods.com.au

afteraquote.com.au

prw.net.au

anticoagulation.com.au

props.com.au

jpcomputers.com.au

robbospetbarn.com.au (redirecting to uggsonlineau.com)

actionboating.com.au

hdconstructions.com.au

completefto.com.au

The Real Scam

From the investigation above I have found quite a few instances in other industries. At this stage the end goal of the operators is probably selling counterfeit branded products. So you may get a pair of ugg boots that say Ugg Australia on them but like the site you bought them from they will be a rip off. Here’s the search I did to work this out site:com.au inurl:ugg filetype:asp . So that search tells Google that I want to see sites that are .com.au and are using ASP pages that have Ugg somewhere in the URL.

It looks like this scam is rife across a lot of well known brands that get counterfeited. Now it seems they can manipulate Google to their will.

 

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Ugg-ly exploits

by Jim on November 12, 2014


Out of the blue the other night, an SEO mate contacted me and said he had a good story. I’ve known Chris for years, formerly of Melbourne now in Hong Kong. Chris told me about his Melbourne mate who retailed Ugg boots. It turned out that when you Googled his brand his site had disappeared from the search results.

Melbourne Retailer SEO

Melbourne Retailer SEO Dies

The number one result in it’s place was a Portuguese music site that had completely ripped off his entire site. Nice work Google. Google should penalise itself for low quality. So Chris and I checked the usual suspects like site downtime etc. but it quickly became obvious that this was no common misconfiguration or stuff up. This Melbourne retailer had been targeted for his traffic. His Brand traffic was getting hijacked.

Black Hat SEO

Black Hat SEO is an oft overused term these days. People will call an SEO Black Hat if they do a back linking campaign. Traditionally it was a label reserved for the more clever and clandestine techniques. This was one such technique. This smelled like cloaking (cue dramatic music). Cloaking gets its name from hiding or cloaking the real web page from Google and serving up something very different to the users than what Google sees. In this example, the portuguese domain, had within it the Urban Ugg Shop’s entire site.. according to Google anyway. When you clicked on the link shown below you were not take to a copied page inside Fazmusicalboa.com though. You were redirected off to http://www.chassuresugg2014fr.com/ another ugg boot site written entirely in French covered in a well know Ugg brand.

Ugg Australia Rip Off Site

Ugg Australia Rip Off Site

It turned out the domain was registered to someone named Ming Wu in China. Our team have since checked the domain details and the phone number and addresses attached to it are all of course fake.

But Wait There’s More

I thought it was unlikely that a sophisticated trick like this would be targeted at a single site. If you are going to go to all this trouble you may as well as make it scalable. So then I did the search inurl:wikihow1.asp and found a heap of other sites compromised with the same exploit. All Microsoft server installs. Here are some of the installs I found that had been compromised:

Windows server 2008. IIS 7.5,

Windows 2000 Microsoft-IIS/5.0,

Windows Server 2003 Microsoft-IIS/6.0,

Windows Server 2012 Microsoft-IIS/8.0

I also found several companies having the content ripped off and rankings disappear. I spoke with Tito Gonzalez of Ukk King in QLD who told me about Ugg Australia and that it was a very well known brand. His own site had been ripped off at Sopers Hole Marina site.

brisbane-retailer-ugg-king

Brisbane Retailer Ugg King Brand Hijack

Once again if you click on the first link you get 302 redirected to another site http://www.2014sheepskinbottes.com/ which once again is an Ugg Australia rip off owned by the fictional Ming Wu. You have to be a little clever to achieve this sort of mass cloaking not too mention the infection of third party sites. At the very least you have to be very organised. As I point out in today’s video you’d have to be using something like @fantomaster IP grabber or similar tool to achieve this. Cloaking relies on you knowing when the Google bot is coming to your site. There are tools that will mimic a user agent but that is not the same as identifying yourself as coming from an address that has previously been identified as owned by the Googlebot. Scraping a site though and then injecting it into another site AND cloaking a redirect is not something I have seen on this scale before, although I’m sure it goes on all the time.

Fox Rothschild LLP Gets Hit

The selection of targets for this exploit looks like it was based on search results for different Ugg categories. The reason I say that is that one site that was ripped off was a US law firm called Fox Rothschild. They have a Fashion Law (who even knew that category existed!) blog maintained in the most part by Staci Riordan whom I reached out to on Twitter for comment. She has since moved on to another law firm though. In the majority of these instances, Google has cached the ripped off pages even though the user gets redirected to the Ugg Australia site maintained by the evil cloaking overlord Ming Wu. This is quite a comprehensive exploit so today’s video is a little longer than usual.
UPDATE: Just did a quick inurl:ugg.asp search. Over 440,000 results – this is the tip of the iceberg.
UPDATE: It turns out that this is probably severely affecting Ugg Australia traffic. For the search “Ugg Infants Erin 5202 Black” UA are ranking 17 and all the results above them look like hacked sites. Also here are some of the fake final destination sites.
www.outletuggus.com
www.shoestys.com
www.shoesdt.com

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Welcome Back Rankers X 4

by Jim on November 5, 2014


I noticed yesterday when I was about to record the video that we had the first three spots in Google for the phrase “welcome back Rankers” but prior to publishing this post only one article targeting the key phrase. We also had an image being shown from the post. The other two spots were our main Blog page where we have the last five blog posts visible and my author page. My guess is that the author page will disappear from the results in the next few days as the widget on the right hand side of this page updates and removes the link to welcome back rankers post. When that happens my author page will no longer be relevant for the phrase welcome back rankers.

Small Changes Make a Big Difference

Simply by the act of publishing a blog post I will remove a page from ranking. I believe this post will replace it in Google. I just checked the Google results and my author page is no longer there but the youtube video certainly is which was only published minutes ago.

Google Needs Clear Directions

Think of your site like a department store. You need clear signage so your customers can easily find what they are looking for. The Google bot is one of those customers. The signage on your website is your link structure or navigation structure. When you change that you change how Google finds your content and where it finds it in relation to everything else. Stretching the analogy a little further – if the sporting goods section is the first thing you are greeted with when you walk in the door, that must be important. Conversely if it is stuck right in the back corner of the store with no easy way to get to it, then it mustn’t be that important. That is what happens to so many sites we see. The hero content is not easy to find in the navigation or it requires several clicks to get to. Not good for humans or bots. Don’t stick the content you want to rank for in the back corner of the store.

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Melbourne SEO Webinar

by Jim October 31, 2014

So yesterday I learned something about Melbourne. It turns out I don’t talk about it enough. I was finishing up my SEO webinar from here in Melbourne and I went and had a look at our content keywords in Google webmaster tools. Turns out the significance of the word Melbourne across our site has dropped [...]

Read more: Melbourne SEO Webinar

Welcome Back Rankers

by Jim October 30, 2014

In about 40 minutes I’m about to do my first live webinar in 10 or 12 years. I first started doing live webcasts as we used to call them, back in 1997. It’s a lot easier now let me assure you! As this is an SEO webinar I thought I’d write a post and try [...]

Read more: Welcome Back Rankers

A Sneaky Little Panda

by Jim October 29, 2014

In last week’s post I mentioned that it felt like there had been a Panda update as well as a Penguin one. From the data we are looking at it, it looks like Panda hit Australia last Sunday the 19th. We have several clients that experienced really good jumps across the board with rankings pre [...]

Read more: A Sneaky Little Panda

Google Penguin or Panda?

by Jim October 22, 2014

Yesterday it was a flurry of activity in the office. In the morning I was off at the ATSA2014 conference on behalf of MYOB & The Savvy Accountant podcast series which I host. When I got back into my car to head back to the office my phone was buzzing with messages. Google had announced [...]

Read more: Google Penguin or Panda?

Bigcommerce SEO

by Jim October 20, 2014

Bigcommerce made some SEO “improvements” back in June. Problem is they actually had some very negative SEO impacts. Thanks to “Dylan” who saw one of my posts on Twitter. He forwarded me their newsletter from June where they discuss their improvements and also have a free SEO eBook. For an ecommerce platform, their SEO ebook [...]

Read more: Bigcommerce SEO