23 Jul 2016

My Search Console Was Hacked!: Weekly Forum Update

seochat-wmw-cre8asite-threadwatch-roundup-768x576Stories both fascinating and terrifying fill this week’s forum update. Ever had your Search Console hacked before? It does happen – and it can be nerve-wracking to wonder how it happened and what can be done to fix it or prevent it from happening again.

On WebmasterWorld, a user has been asking for advice in his battle with a particularly unscrupulous and persistent content scraper. We’ve also got an interesting debate about thin content penalties.

Finally, on Cre8asiteforums, users are somewhat disturbed by Google’s announcement that it will be tracking how long patrons stay at certain real-world businesses; is it an invasion of privacy? All that and more below!

Twitter Account Verification Now Open to All

Those little blue and white checkmarks have, historically, been coveted like gold on Twitter. Now the process to request one has been opened up to everyone!

Verifying your account requires you to have a few things like a verified phone number and email address, a bio, profile photo, and header photo, and a few other things that make you seem like a real person. But, as WebmasterWorld’s admin engine points out,

“…it’s the account verification submission that is open to all, and not that everyone’s account will be verified.”

So don’t take it personally if you make a request but Twitter doesn’t deliver! Though rustybrick says, “I got my account verified within hours using that form,” so it sounds like decisions are made quickly.

Ad-blockers: Prevalence and Popularity

Everyone on the ‘Net seems to know about ad-blocking. Consumers are becoming savvier to advertising tactics by the day. But what about in the real world?

How often do you hear your coworkers discussing ad-blockers at the water-cooler? How often does your mother mention ad-blocking on the phone? On Threadwatch, Mr-X observes that discussions about ad-blocking mostly seem to happen online. What’s your experience?

Fighting Back Against Content Scrapers

Mr_Jefe on WebmasterWorld has been diligently working on a website for years, and a nasty content scraper has been hounding him all the way.

“The thief has been at it for over 2 years, and at this point has duplicated nearly 1,000 pages from my site,” he writes. “I contacted the site owner and firmly told him to cease the theft, but he literally refused,”

and now the scraped content is outranking Mr_Jefe and stealing traffic and revenue from him. We all deal with content scrapers – but this is such an egregious case that it deserves highlighting. One thousand pages is, as Mr_Jefe says, “insane!” Furthermore, since the thief isn’t based in the US, a DMCA is useless. It doesn’t seem fair, but as netmeg writes

, “…There is no fair in search. Whether or not there should be is moot, because there isn’t. The goal is not to fight with Google, it’s to gain traffic and make money… you can beat your head against a wall trying to get Google or some hosting provider to take down 1000+ pages…or you can spend your valuable time and money trying to make your site better…”

Users are discussing solutions and realities in this thread!

Search Console – Hacked!

On SEO Chat, user Chedders was contacted by a friend whose Search Console appears to have been hacked. A message appeared in Search Console telling the webmaster that a new owner had been added.

Chedders was able to remove them, but it still troubles him –

“…this site is a tiny site under 50 pages for a campsite, they sell nothing and get some but not massive traffic.”

What could be the source of the hack, and is there any way to prevent such a thing from happening in the future? Mainstwebguy writes that two-factor authentication has worked like a charm for him – what would be your solution?

Thin (Partial) Content Manual Actions: How to Handle Them?

If you’ve ever received a partial site match penalty for thin content, then this is a thread you’ll absolutely want to read. Our OP is dealing with a tricky situation, since it would be difficult to add more content to the many pages penalized… but asking them to be noindexed would be a serious blow to their traffic numbers. Furthermore, they fret about submitting a reconsideration since

“…there are a few other income-generating sections of the site that could be interpreted as ‘thin’ from Google’s perspective…”

What to do? Well, in answer to the reconsideration request, aakk9999 writes that

“Manual penalties do expire…If you do have time to wait, you could noindex these pages for googlebot only and firstly just wait for the penalty to expire and see if it will come back…”

But noindexing is tricky, and if done in combination with some robots.txt edits could result in some unintended consequences. Check out the many, many solutions and innovative ideas in this thread!

Google Knows How Long You Stay at the Pub!

Google may start showing how many minutes people spend at various storefronts and venues soon. On Cre8asiteforums, EGOL writes

“I know that this is based upon aggregated data, but I don’t like it. I think how long people spend at a pub or coffee shop or restaurant or nail salon…is private information…”

User earlpearl finds some of the information useful, but says that

“I generally don’t like it. I don’t like that Google is taking my location data and then using the data to provide public information. It’s without my specific content.”

There is a way to opt-in or opt-out, but once you opt-in it’s difficult to tell when your data is or isn’t being harvested. Earlpearl has a great example of how data collection and “customer service” can lead to disaster sometimes – give it a read!

Whatever Happened to Negative SEO?

On the forums, I haven’t heard much about negative SEO lately. Have recent changes made SEO a safer, less negative place? Perhaps – on Threadwatch, a user picked up an analysis of current black hat techniques.

Their analysis says that building low quality links with direct keywords in the anchor, on the magnitude of hundreds per week, is the order of the day. Gateway pages are also used today for negative SEO. But Google has grown so sophisticated that many webmasters believe it can tell the difference between a negative SEO attempt and genuine manipulation.

In the comments, paisley says that “[Negative SEO] exists. In a very well thought out, very methodical fashion for at least 10 of the Fortune 50 companies and at least 23 executives that wish for their SERPs to be clean and devoid of negative information…it’s known as ORM or Online Reputation Management.” Now that’s a thought!

International SEO on SEO Chat!

Users on SEO Chat are sharing tips, tricks, and articles about international SEO in this thread! ThomasHarvey has uncovered a handy little reference chart that makes basic international SEO much easier.

There are a lot of moving parts, so finding ways to organize all the necessary steps is important! Give these resources a read and share your own if you have them!


  1. Frazer John July 29, 2016 at 12:52 AM

    Hi Mark , How are you ? I read your post it was interesting and while reading your post i stuck on one topic which i recently faced that problem and i could not solve it and that is WEBMASTER SEARCH CONSOLE new owner . Actually i got the message in my gmail id that your my website has a new owner for search console . Can you please tell me how to over come this problem or suggest me any link so that i can go there and solve it .

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