We all harp upon the importance of keywords, but what are Japanese keywords?
About a month and a half ago, our website was hacked. It was complete mayhem, what with a sudden mail from Google saying we had an unidentified owner of our website, who quite miraculously managed to verify his ownership.
Our first reaction was to believe our Gmail account had been hacked (I still believe it was). With our limited knowledge, we tried everything—from individually removing spammy links with Japanese keywords to contacting our hosting services provider. Eventually, we had no other option but to shut down our whole site and rebuild it from scratch. All this, with one of the best WordPress security plugins installed on our site. We have taken a few extra measures this time around but it was quite harassing. All the hard work that had gone into gaining organic ranks went down the drain.
It has been a tough month and a half but it gave us a chance to redesign the website to look better and load faster—all in all, a learning experience.
For those of you who have been in such a tight spot before, or even if you’ve never really faced such a situation, we’ll talk a little about Japanese keywords are and how to tackle them.
What exactly are Japanese keywords?
The first thing a hacker does is to add themselves as a property owner in Google Search Console (Exactly what happened to us). Despite Google’s stringent security measures, for a hacker, it really isn’t difficult to verify their ownership. All the hacker has to do is add a verification HTML tag to your website’s root file.
The Japanese keywords hack ends up creating new pages that would to a viewer return a 404 Page Not Found error. However, don’t get fooled. These pages use affiliate links to fake merchandise using a method called cloaking and show up like this:
While Google would advise you to use their Security Issues Tool, most often than not you would get a message that there is no hacked content on your site. What it may also do is give you a list of pages that it has crawled. If you’re as unlucky as us, you would see more than 200 links you haven’t created. It is practically impossible to add all those 200+ spam links to Google’s Remove URL tool.
How do we fix the Japanese keywords issue?
We’ve read up tons of articles on how to do this. We found not one single article that catered completely to our problem. However, if you’re comfortable with accessing all your HTML files and scripts, the following article is your best friend:
What we did to tackle the problem at hand
We pulled down our entire website, removed the .htaccess file that was infected, contacted our hosting services provider and reinstalled WordPress (the CMS we use) for the entire site.
We rebuilt the entire site, posted our content all over again, and removed earlier links from all social media profiles.
Once that was done, we resubmitted our XML sitemap to Google Webmasters Tool and requested the entire site to be fetched and re-indexed (just a few days back).
Now, we cross our fingers and wait for our effort to pay off.