Cloned Websites Stealing Google Rankings

We often speak of black hat SEO tactics and content scraping sites are just one example of such tactics. Scraping is the act of copying all content from a website using automated scripts, usually with the intention of stealing content or completely cloning the victim’s site. Lately we have been seeing quite a high number of clients affected by these so-called scraper sites. We’ll take a look at this kind of attack in an advanced form that results in the cloned site showing up in search results in place of the original site. These plagiarized sites abuse the way Google ranks content by sending fake organic traffic and by modifying internal backlinks on the cloned website so they no longer point to the victim’s website.

How Search Results Rank Website Content

Search engines want to return the best and most relevant pages in their search results to ensure that users have the best experience and find what they are looking for. As such, pages with the same or similar content on more than one page, or more than one site are not likely to rank high in the search results. One of the factors they take into consideration is the site’s organic traffic performance. This helps determine where that site should be ranked. In addition to many other factors, Google uses redirects to track which results the searcher clicks on within the search engine results page (SERP), and whether the searcher returns to click other results because they did not find what they were looking for.

As per study by Chitika in 2013:

Sites listed on the first Google search results page generate 92% of all traffic from an average search.

It makes sense that any kind of SEO targeting attack aims to get the best results they can within Google Search results can so that their activity can be successful and generate as much revenue as possible, or simply damage the SEO of the targeted website.

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