As website owners, we invest significant time and effort into building and maintaining our online presence. However, there are malicious actors out there who seek to exploit vulnerabilities and compromise our websites. One such threat is the rise of foreign language hacks, where hackers flood a site with junk pages optimized for specific keywords. This not only poses a security risk but also affects your site’s search rankings and overall credibility.
In a recent Reddit post, a website owner shared their experience of suddenly having over 20,000 pages in Japanese and Chinese indexed on their site, without their knowledge or consent. They sought advice on how to remove these unwanted pages and restore their site’s rankings. Google Search Advocate, John Mueller, responded with valuable guidance on how to clean up the issue and prevent future occurrences.
The Incident: Understanding the Japanese Keyword Hack
The website owner’s predicament is a classic example of a “Japanese keyword hack.” This technique allows perpetrators to manipulate search results by flooding a site with junk pages optimized for Japanese keywords. In this case, the website owner discovered thousands of foreign language pages indexed by Google in a single day, despite these pages not existing in their website management system.
This sudden influx of pages raised concerns about a potential security breach or misconfiguration that allowed unknown parties to post content on the website. It highlights the need for increased vigilance and proactive measures to safeguard our websites.
John Mueller’s Guidance: Identifying the Breach and Preventing Future Attacks
Responding to the plea for help, John Mueller confirmed that the website had indeed been hacked. He emphasized the importance of understanding how the breach occurred to ensure that vulnerabilities are addressed and future attacks are prevented. Even after cleaning up the traces of the hack, it is crucial to identify and rectify the underlying vulnerabilities.
Mueller suggested several steps to mitigate the issue. Firstly, he recommended implementing automatic updates to keep your website’s software and plugins up to date. Outdated software can be a gateway for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities. Additionally, Mueller advised considering a hosting platform that handles security, as they often have robust measures in place to protect against such attacks.
SEO Implications: Cleaning Up and Reindexing
Once the most important pages of your site are cleaned of unwanted content, they can be reindexed quickly. Mueller reassured the website owner that old hacked pages that remain indexed but invisible to users do not cause any problems. These pages can stay that way for months without negatively impacting your site’s performance.
It’s important to note that spammy backlinks pointing to these invisible indexed pages do not require disavowing. Instead, Mueller advised focusing cleanup efforts on a site’s visible content and preventing internal search results from being indexed. By doing so, you can maintain a clean and credible online presence.
Addressing Spammy Links and Indexing
The website owner also sought advice from Mueller regarding spammy backlinks causing internal search pages to be indexed. Mueller clarified that this issue was separate from the hacking incident. He recommended against disavowing the links, as the pages would naturally drop from search results over time.
To proactively address this concern, Mueller suggested blocking search results pages from indexing using the robots.txt file or the noindex attribute. This prevents potential exploitation by spammers and ensures that your site’s search results pages are not indexed by search engines.
Insights for SEO Professionals: Prioritizing Security and Regular Maintenance
This dialogue with John Mueller sheds light on the importance of taking proactive measures to prevent hacking incidents and mitigate the impact of spammy links on our search rankings. As SEO professionals, we must prioritize the security and integrity of our websites.
Regular security updates, malware scans, and link audits should be part of our routine maintenance. By keeping our websites free of hacked and spammy content, we not only protect our own interests but also contribute to the overall quality of search results.
See first source: Search Engine Journal
What is a “Japanese keyword hack,” and why is it a concern for website owners?
A “Japanese keyword hack” is a technique used by hackers to manipulate search results by flooding a website with junk pages optimized for specific Japanese keywords. This not only poses a security risk but also affects a site’s search rankings and credibility.
What should you do if you discover foreign language pages indexed on your website without your knowledge or consent?
If you find unwanted foreign language pages indexed on your site, it’s essential to take immediate action to address the issue. Begin by understanding how the breach occurred and identifying vulnerabilities that need to be fixed to prevent future attacks.
What guidance did Google Search Advocate, John Mueller, provide to address a Japanese keyword hack?
John Mueller advised several steps to mitigate the issue, including implementing automatic updates for your website’s software and considering a hosting platform with strong security measures. Cleaning up the hacked pages and preventing internal search results from being indexed were also recommended.
Are there SEO implications when cleaning up and reindexing hacked pages on your website?
When cleaning up hacked pages, the most important thing is to focus on the site’s visible content. Old hacked pages that remain indexed but invisible to users do not cause issues, and spammy backlinks pointing to them do not require disavowing. The emphasis should be on maintaining a clean and credible online presence.
How should spammy links causing internal search pages to be indexed be addressed?
Spammy links causing indexing of internal search pages should be handled separately from the hacking incident. Disavowing these links is not necessary. Instead, you can prevent internal search results pages from being indexed by using the robots.txt file or the noindex attribute to block them.
What insights can SEO professionals gain from this guidance on dealing with foreign language hacks and spammy links?
SEO professionals should prioritize website security and regular maintenance to prevent hacking incidents and mitigate the impact of spammy links. This includes keeping software up to date, conducting malware scans, and performing link audits. Maintaining a clean website not only protects your interests but also contributes to the quality of search results.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Lindsey LaMont; Unsplash – Thank you!
Colin Hughes, a passionate wordsmith and digital raconteur. He ghostwrites for numerous websites that include travel, culture, and lifestyle content. When not traveling for work, he loves to spend his time at home with his husband and two border collies, Reggie and Tuesday.