Apr
21
2011

How Hackers Gained An Easy #1 Google Ranking With A Hack That’s Invisible To Most Users

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Sometime in the past few days hackers gained access to the High Point University Religion department’s website and used it to gain a top ranking for the term “viagra online”. They’ve used a sneaky tactic so that most visitors to the website won’t notice anything wrong (if nobody notices the hack, it will stay up longer!).

Here’s how they appear to have done it:

  • Using cloaking to serve Googlebot a version of the page optimized for their Viagra keywords
  • Any visitors that click through from Google SERPs for their Viagra keywords are redirected to an online drug store
  • All other visitors are shown the normal university page, so normal users won’t notice or report the hack

What can honest webmasters and marketers learn from this?
Be aware that hackers are pulling tricks like this that are invisible to the normal user. Keep a close eye on your Analytics and Google Webmaster tools for keywords you shouldn’t be ranking for.

Shout out to Noah for pointing this out!

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