I’ve posted a couple of threads about this fairly recently, but I’m no nearer a solution and I’m at my wits’ end.
I do the web site for a local event. It has always ranked top in the search engines for the event name, but a few months ago it vanished without trace from Google, and what appears instead is another domain, redirected to mine, showing the content of my home page. Previously, several internal pages - mainly the programme pages - also ranked highly, but now they don’t appear at all, even one which has a good number of in-bound links and received a number of Google +1s. A site:domain search produces all the pages, but otherwise - no results, even with searching for an actual page title. Yahoo! and Bing display results as before and make no mention of the redirected domain, so I’m pretty sure I’ve not done something daft to the site.
The event committee finally managed to contact the person to whom the domain is registered. He says it’s nothing to do with him, he’s taken nothing to do with it in years, he’s not been paying for it, didn’t arrange the re-direction and doesn’t know who did.
Is there any way I can block the re-direction, and if I do, will it just mean we vanish from Google altogether?
Well, I’ve never heard of a way to block a site from redirecting to yours, but I’m not much of a server guy. I imagine that you would have to do something with Apache or whatever your using. With Apache, you’d probably have to use the .htaccess file, so I’d suggest looking up something like “Block cross site redirect .htaccess” on Google. If you’re not technically inclined or you just can’t find anything on the topic, you could look at their Web Search Help page or contact Google at http://www.google.com/contact
If you have any questions about information you find through these channels, I’d be happy to help in any way I can.
He says it’s nothing to do with him, he’s taken nothing to do with it in years, he’s not been paying for it, didn’t arrange the re-direction and doesn’t know who did.
If the domain is in his name, address and email, he could theoretically take control over it, and stop the redirect. Alternatively and more safe from a legal stand point, would be to complain to the domain registrar and let the know that the whois info is inaccurate. They would then have to contact the person who’s paying for the domain to update the whois (letting them know that you’ll be contacting ICANN over this if the situation is not corrected swiftly might also help), and this might give you a chance to contact the real owner. Alternatively, this person never replies, and the domain will have to be taken down.
Things don’t go as planned if this person who’s been paying for the domain’s registration chooses to purchase a whois privacy service instead of updating the info.
The domain itself must be hosted somewhere. Try to determine the host, and then see if they’re willing to help out in some way (like maybe contacting the hosting account’s owner an relaying your complaint).
You could also try to contact Google directly and explain the situation. It seems to me like something went wrong in their ranking algorithm. Still, as far as I know they’re not the kind who will try to sort out individual problems, so, assuming they will take the time to really read your request, it could still take them months to act on it.
I’m not aware of a technical solution that can be applied on your side only, but I’m not the most knowledgeable person in this area. Personally I doubt there is one.
I’m not sure you have grounds for legal action, but that’s always an option as well. Still takes time and money though.
That’s an idea - I hadn’t thought of that. It’s hosted with a very well known UK company and I’m sure they’ll have dealt with the registration, too, although it’s a .org domain.
I’ve tried that already, but just received what looked like a standard reply:
We reviewed your site and found no manual actions by the webspam team that might affect your site’s ranking in Google. There’s no need to file a reconsideration request for your site, because any ranking issues you may be experiencing are not related to a manual action taken by the webspam team. Of course, there may be other issues with your site that affect your site’s ranking.
No mention of the actual issues I raised.
That wouldn’t be an option in this case. The event is run by a committee of volunteers on a very small budget. However, by local standards it’s a big event and very important to tourism, hence I’m concerned at our lack of presence on Google. I’ll see what I can do through the host/registrar.