Sabotaging Websites – A New Way To Do It

April 24, 2008 · Print This Article

There are many ways to sabotage a website, but today I found out that one of my websites was sabotaged in a way that I had never seen before.

A few months ago, I started a new, content-rich website. It included about 100 articles. Like I often do with a new website, I got a few backlinks to the site, then left it to age a few months before seriously promoting it.

Today I returned to that website to find it had some serious ranking and indexing problems in Google. I tried to figure out what was going on and found that someone had used a very creative way of sabotaging the website.

What this person had done was take almost every single article from my website, and submitted them to many article directories. However, the articles were submitted with his byline and with a link to his websites! Since then, many other websites had syndicated these articles from the article banks – and all of these syndicated articles were linking to his websites.

Now, it looks to Google like my website is simply a copy of free articles available in article directories, with little original content. In short – little original content = not worth indexing or ranking. What’s more, this person’s website is getting credit for all of these articles, as most of the copies on the web are linking to his website.

Normally, I don’t care much if someone copies from my websites. I think Google is pretty smart about it, and as long as your content is cached first, you should be alright most of the time. However, in this case, with so many copies of most of the articles from my website, and all of them attributing authorship to someone else, it’s a big problem. It’s an even bigger problem for brand new websites (like mine) as these sites will not yet have earned much trust or authority in Google.

I can’t think of what I can do about this other than start from scratch, which is very disheartening (and expensive). If anyone has any thoughts about how to deal with this, I’d appreciate the input. And of course, in the future, I will be more vigilant about checking for people copying my websites.

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17 Responses to “Sabotaging Websites – A New Way To Do It”

  1. Gordon on April 24th, 2008 2:57 pm

    that sucks.

    Google claims they watch to see where content existed first, and they give that site credit, but it is probably easier said then done….

  2. chrispian on April 24th, 2008 3:28 pm

    Send the article sites a DMCA take down request and send one to Google too. They take copyright pretty seriously. It’s worth a shot.

  3. admin on April 24th, 2008 4:50 pm

    Thanks chrispian – I had thought about doing that. The problem is that lots of other websites, presumably in good faith, have used these articles, which they obtained from the article sites.

  4. damir on April 24th, 2008 5:09 pm

    I can’t think of what I can do about this other than start from scratch – I would do that – this also happen to my websites.

    Good Luck

    When I was a young man, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. I didnt want to be a failure, so I did ten times more work – George Bernard Shaw

  5. Gab "SEO ROI" Goldenberg on April 25th, 2008 1:03 am

    If it’s at all related to search, marketing, domaining, or internet marketing in some way, let me know and I’ll throw some links your way. I’d also file a DMCA with Google. Matt Cutts’ latest post has the info on how to do it.

  6. admin on April 25th, 2008 12:27 pm

    @Gab – thanks so much! Actually, it’s a health related website, but I greatly appreciate your offer. I’m also going about trying to get the content removed. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll file a DMCA.

  7. Don on April 27th, 2008 12:56 pm

    Don’t people have anything better to do than screw up other peoples sites? It sure pisses me off. Care to provide the name of his/her website? I’d like to put the word out about this individual.

  8. Barry on April 28th, 2008 8:12 am

    I wouldnt be overly concerned about getting them removed. Get the original article submission sites to change the linkbox so future links will be yours. Secondly review where your articles are posted using copyscape and decide which websites are relevant and worth the effort of asking for the linkbox to be changed. Use a DMCA to force the issue if necessary.
    Finally check your website carefully. Somehow i doubt this is truly giving rise to an indexing problem all by itself.

  9. admin on April 28th, 2008 9:49 am

    @Don – I thought long and hard about outing the person. I decided not to in the end, as I wanted the article to be more about what to watch out for rather than getting back at someone.

  10. admin on April 28th, 2008 9:52 am

    @Barry – Thanks! I’m starting to go through this process now. I think that why it’s hurting is because the site is so new; if someone did this to an established site, it wouldn’t work. But I will look for other issues.

  11. Tim on May 13th, 2008 2:24 am

    You can go in and change the articles up a bit. It will also get google to recrawl and see some fresh stuff. We do it all the time with some sites that are in top10 with 4million serps.

    Just rewrite some or post some new content in between the old.

  12. Neville on August 23rd, 2009 1:22 pm

    What can you about someone downloading your website to their computer from a free hosting company and then upload the site with broken links change page titles, load image with oversize images and remove some of the text and keywords and they even went further to upload more than 300 unlinked pages in the root directory. I found out later that it was a person whom I had known and work with, and who encouraged me to build websites. It took me more than nine months to repair my website. At one stage it had a PR5. Now, I am hardly getting any traffic.

  13. Make Money Online Free on November 12th, 2009 12:18 am

    Don’t you hate when people steal your content? I’ve had to deal with it recently and it’s so disgusting. I have enough to bother with , with this making money online stuff.. to think I’d have to hunt down people and ask them to remove MY content from their site is just unbelievable.

    I was actually searching through google and came upon your site because I’m looking for other ways people can sabotage your site as well.. like I’ve heard people link your site to porn etc and that can make you lose major rankings on google. My problem is I don’t know how to find out if this was done. Any idea?

    I’d be glad if I can get a response. Thanks. 🙂


  14. Neville on November 12th, 2009 3:53 am

    I am not sure what you can do about your problem. If a porn site should link to your site, its not your fault as long as you are not linking your site to a porn site. People will find all kind of ways to sabotage your website and they do it out of jealously and spite. They will even spread bad vibes about you on the Internet because they are not able to put words together, plus the fact that they want to be No1 in search engines.

    Be aware of people who are your friends or pretend to be friends. Never trust anyone who is too helpful because they only want to gain confidence and trust in them. Change your hosting company for a more secure hosting company.

    My idea is; you should change your hosting company, sort out your website by changing a few words in your content and instead of uploading 4 or 5 pages at a time spend some time repairing the whole site and then upload it all at once. This way your site will be dated and search engines will note the date you upload your site. It is rather difficult to stop people from copying your content, but at least search will know your original content along with the date.

    Join something like creative commons license. This way your contents will be attribute to you whenever anyone copy your content. Check it out for yourself. You may have to add a script on your web pages.

    My new hosting company was able to tell me that my website was attack 18 times in one day. These attacks was directed from my previous free hosting company by people who is hosting with them……

    I don’t know if what I said herein makes much sense to you. You can email me with your thoughts.

  15. Make Money Online Free on December 10th, 2009 5:54 pm

    I understand what you mean about friends trying to help too much. I’m weary of them myself. :/ It’s sad that it comes to that state where people need to sabotage you in order to gain rankings. I guess it’s just like real life where people will put you down just to make themselves feel better.

    With the advice on hosting etc, I’m not too tech savvy and once purchased hosting but never got it set up because I wasn’t sure how to.. so I ended up just not using it and I still leave my site hosted on Blogger. :/ I know it’s not the best idea, but I just can’t figure out all that “coding” and “uploading a webpage” and all that stuff. Sounds like greek to me.

    Sorry, I probably sound like a noob, but it’s just that I’m good with words and blogging and I’ve been getting the SEO bit so far, but I haven’t tackled “hosting” yet.

    Thanks for the reply and the advice though. I guess I just have to be on the lookout. 🙂


  16. steven on March 14th, 2010 8:56 pm

    If your articles are original and you can prove copyright, you may have legal recourse. In addition to DMCA take-down notices, you may be able to sue. If the infringing site is based in the US and the owner has money you could potentially collect significant damages. It may be worth consulting a lawyer who specializes in IP law.