Its always interesting to see how big brands mess up their sites in the SERPs, potentially causing  SEO headaches.

I often spot loads of these in the wild, but from now on, am going to start documenting them under my LOL category.

Lets start by clicking: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=site%3A129.35.70.107

Basically google is indexing the site via the IP.

The best option is to figure out how this content got leaked, and start blocking, redirecting and cleaning up. I am sure you will start seeing a bit of positivity in your search rankings.

Tip: Get 301s from the IP set up as wildcards to the domain (the correct version of the domain if you are using www.)

Rishi Lakhani is an independent Online Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media. Explicitly.Me is his Blog. Google Profile

Most of us that aren’t extremely technically minded tend to fall into a series of errors that our more savvy friends would be able to help us out of. And if we, those who are in the web / online marketing industry get caught out, then I wonder what happens to the less savvy population?

Considering the fact that Google is getting a lot more aggressive with duplicate content – imagine my amazement when Chris at Hitreach (Webdev and SEO in Dundee who I work with on occassion) told me about a recent clean-up he had to do. And how it came about. (Note: When I say “more aggressive” I mean that I am seeing more an more sites in the last 2 years getting hurt by too much dupe content. A FULL site duplicated isn’t ideal from any standpoint. )

The Background – Rogue SubDomains

Whilst undertaking a site audit on their own site they began discovering rogue URL’s which were indexed in Google such as http://w.hitreach.co.uk

This isn’t a subdomain which actually existed which meant someone who’d incorrectly linked to www.hitreach.co.uk had caused a rogue subdomain to become indexed.

What are the issues with such subdomains? Well to start off with, they create a complete clone of your website. And with a single link, CAN be indexed in Google overnight.

I know, cause I tried. I managed to get 10 variations of a random subdomain name of a site hosted at the same hosting provider to index within 24 hours.   That is 10 duplicate versions of the site overnight.

As an SEO, you can imagine my horror at thinking how easy it would be to:

  1. Index hundreds of variations of a sites clones on sub domains with a simple high volume SENuke attack.
  2. Create dodgy subdomains with high risk words, adult, pharma, gambling etc.
  3. Potentially OUTRANK the home page with those dodgy subdomains, and causing the site serious ranking issues.

Heart Internet – Default Settings Leave Clients at Risk

It turns out that any reseller or Hybrid/VPS hosting account which is created on Heart Internet includes a ‘wildcard’ subdomain entry by default.

The entry appears as * in the A records section of the DNS management:

This means that your website, by default, will resolve to any subdomain at all.

Whilst Google won’t index of these automatically it means that anyone can cause a duplicate version of your site to rank for any subdomain they like. If your site uses relative links then an entire crawl of your fake subdomain site becomes possible rather than just an individual page being an issue.

It’s scary because it not hard to find lots of sites which are hosted with Heart Internet either by using tools like Who Is Hosting This or by just checking for Heart Internet’s own ‘website of the month’ winners which is easy using a search like:

site:heartinternet.co.uk inurl:website-of-the-month-winner

From here you could pick a random winner, test if a random subdomain resolves correctly and then link to it causing it to become indexed creating duplicate content and potentially huge headaches for the site owner which unless they are very SEO savvy won’t necessarily ever discover.

How To Find If Your Site Is Affected:

To find if your site is resolving subdomains which it shouldn’t you can use this search phrase:

site:domain.co.uk -site:www.domain.co.uk

This will show you all the subdomains on your site which are indexed. If any of them are real then just remove them from the search by removing the subdomain to your search like:

site:domain.co.uk -site:www.domain.co.uk -site:realsubdomain.domain.co.uk

Here is an example I found :

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=site%3Atemples.co.uk+-site%3Awww.temples.co.uk

Fixing the Problem

  1. Remove the * A Record Entry
  2. Run the queries above to determine if you do have these wildcard subdomains indexed. Manually create a version of them and 301 redirect them to the site.

Dear Heart Internet – I suggest you email all your hosting clients and get them to check their sites – and remove that default wildcard.

Ps – I am certainly NOT the first to write about this. See Kev Strongs Post on it.

Using Google Trends To Plan Ecommerce Merchandising

July 30, 2013

I have worked with a number of ecommerce retailers before, two of them being well known brands, one in the UK, the other in the US. The interesting thing I learnt about buying and merchandising teams is that, especially in fashion, the buying is often done on “gut instinct” as well as checking out the [...]

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Is your Link Removal Team Incompetent?

June 18, 2013

In the recent spate of Google’s anti “easy” link updates, also known as Penguin , link removal has become an essential part of SEO.

There are many reasons to remove a link:

The link was OK when you got it, but is now “toxic” due to the siteowner allowing too much spam, paid posting, or even by [...]

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Google is playing games with you – AGAIN.

February 22, 2013

UPDATE: The reason for the current UK notices and Interflora’s rankings have been discovered. More information Here: http://www.davidnaylor.co.uk/interflora-what-really-happened.html
I am somewhat a tin foil conspiracy theorist when it comes to google. And often my theories do prove to be right, and most times I am not far from the mark. This week, two seemingly unrelated events [...]

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Dear Inbound, Thank you!

January 17, 2013

UPDATE: Inbound has now reconsidered and I am happy to sign up! W00t!
Here I am : http://www.inbound.org/users/view/rishil
So we all know that Inbound.org is the beast that Sphinn used to be back in the day. And its cool, I missed the sphinn community and article discussions in one place.

But I haven’t joined inbound yet. I [...]

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Google Algo Update – Quote of the week

December 19, 2012

I dont like mini posts, but this is the quote of the week as far as I am concerned:

“We sensed a subtle change in the force and we asked the force and it said Tatooine was not destroyed (these are not the algo updates you were looking for)”. ~ Judith Lewis

Background:
http://searchengineland.com/no-that-wasnt-a-google-panda-update-you-felt-142820

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Link Building Has Sandbox Effect / Transition Rankings

December 13, 2012

I haven’t really paid much attention to SEO blogs in the last three months. Part of that reason is that I am insanely busy working on new projects that have little to do with SEO. However that doesn’t mean I don’t check or test stuff.
This post is more of an observation and a working theory, [...]

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What the F is an SEO These days?

December 12, 2012

Lately a lot of bullcrap is being posted about SEO and what it means to be an SEO. From PR agencies to web designers, everyone in the digital space fancies themselves as an SEO. Frankly a lot of popular magazines, sites and blogs are posting misinformation about what an SEO really does. A number [...]

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Google Lead Generation Adwords

June 15, 2012

*UPDATE
So these have been around for a while! See: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2011/10/24/adwords-communication-extensions
So Google isn’t just satisfied with killing credit card affiliates, and other traditional online marketers, they are so determined to try other affiliate money making schemes that they are now entering the lead generation business.
Check this beauty out:
The privacy policy seems a bit vague too:
Can someone [...]

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