Fixing Google Manual Action: Hacked Site

Sonofa… seriously? I’ve been hacked?

Receive a message about a hacked site penalty from Google? If so, you’re probably wondering what it means. Well, no other way to say this, so: someone is hacking or has hacked your website.

Regardless, don’t panic; there are recovery options.

As we’ve discussed in this series (see links at the bottom for our other three articles thus far), Google issues Manual Actions for numerous reasons, and yep, you guessed it: one of those actions is for a hacked website.

While this can seem hella frustrating, we’re betting that before you received this message, you had no idea the hacking of your site was even occurring. So on a weirdly positive note, yay!(?) It’s actually a good thing Google caught it before it did extensive damage. 

Let’s dive in deeper to discover what a Google Manual Action for a hacked site mean.

What Is A Manual Action?

Businessman sits at three monitors and uses magnifying glass to look at camera

This guy specifically reviews your case. (We’re joking).

Google issues Manual Action reports when a human reviewer determines that a single page, or multiple pages, on your website has violated the webmaster quality guidelines. Usually, that handy algorithm will detect any spammy behavior and demote or remove the page. However, sometimes they need a human reviewer to decide if the site has been hacked and place it under manual review. Additionally, sometimes a manual review can affect your page’s rank. If that’s the case, you’ll get an email letting you know.

Google doesn’t take these precautions to be cruel. As we are keen to remind, Google values their “user experience” and want nothing but quality information for their users. If someone has compromised your website, it leaves you and Google’s searchers vulnerable to changes created for malignant experiences.

Despite the fact that you had nothing to do with the hacking, you have to gain control of your site before they allow it back on the results page.  

Google Manual Action: Hacked Site

hacker draws back dark curtains made of binary code

Google says that as of 2016, cybercriminals had hacked into 32% of websites a year and that number is growing.

Hackers want into your site to steal information and manipulate data. They look for vulnerable, unprotected websites to prey on because, well, let’s face it, they’re sitting ducks. Protecting your website is vital. If your site is outdated and unsecured, change it before you become the victim of their next attack.

Types of Compromises

two arms come through computer monitor and rifle through wallet on desk

And look at this cheeky devil! Comin’ right through the damn monitor for your wallet!

There are several types of compromises you may encounter.

  • SpamMost of the time a compromise of a site is due to hackers adding spam. Spammers feed content into a website in working order to direct traffic to a misleading and harmful website. For example, a spammer might redirect users to a pornographic site that does significant damage to your device. Ack.
  • Credit Card SkimmingA relatively new threat to e-commerce platforms is credit card skimming. That’s one of the most dangerous types of compromises as it steals users credit card information. So it can hurt your reputation if you don’t catch in time.
  • Botnets: A botnet is a network of computers contaminated with malicious software. They are run remotely by cybercriminals known as botmasters. They steal your resources to crack passwords and other websites. This compromise bypasses anti-virus software and security tools and is extremely difficult to detect.
  • MalwareMalware is software written with the intention of harming computers, devices, and people. It directly affects the users of your website and is Google’s reason for having such strict requirements.

So, now that you know the types of hacks, let’s look at how to protect your website and the people who use it from cybercriminals.

Armor Up

Medieval armor

Time to get your site’s heavy armor out.

Web security should be a top priority for you as the owner of a website. Hackers are always on the prowl for exploits.

In addition to having anti-virus software and other security tools, you need to make a habit of checking your files on a regular basis to find and fix compromises quickly. Make sure you’re diligent in your search. Hackers are like mice, meaning that small percentage you overlook is their doorway.

No matter how big or small your brand is, compromises can happen to you. These steps can protect you from getting hacked.

Sign up for Search Console

Three digital devices with a lock icon on the screen

Make sure that everyone who works on your website understands the importance of security. Engage these three tips for your site’s safety:

  • Backup your site regularly
  • Update your software often
  • Invest in security software

What Will Happen If Your Site Is Compromised

Screen shines on dark keyboard and hands typing

Hackers will wreak havoc on your site if you don’t catch them in time. Some common symptoms of a compromise include:

  • Blocked access to your site
  • Stolen data from you and your users
  • Affect on your brand’s reputation

In addition to these damages, recovering from being hacked can be a challenging process. Once the cybercriminal has taken over your website, they have no intention of giving it back. They will take measures such as file injection and cloaking to keep you out.

You can avoid these inconveniences by merely taking steps to secure your website correctly.

Solving The Problem

Woman using binoculars looking at camera

You, focusing on the problem.

If you do get a manual action from Google due to a compromise on your website, there are things you can do to resolve the issue and get out of the dog house.

  • Check the webmaster guidelines
  • Don’t stress over manual actions
  • Focus on users needs and technical SEO to improve page rank

It’s a lengthy process. Be patient and take your time in these fixes to ensure that you don’t prolong your reconsideration request by getting denied again.

Submitting A Reconsideration Request

After you fix the problems the manual action report identified, you have to send a request for reconsideration. Basically, Google wants to see that you understand the issue and have corrected it. The webmaster’s team will manually review your request and decide if they will lift the penalty.

Recovery from a Google manual action can be a lengthy and challenging process. You can prevent receiving one as a result of being hacked by securing your site and checking it regularly for anything out of the ordinary. 

Stronger Coverage

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More in Our Google Manual Actions Series

Unnatural Links to Your Site

Unnatural Links from Your Site

Cloaking and Sneaky Redirects

Hacked Site

Pure Spam

Spammy Structured Markup

User-generated Spam

Spammy Freehosts

Hidden Text and/or Keyword Stuffing

And more coming soon!

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