John Mueller has recently shared some SEO tips on how to handle the recovery process after a hacker attack on the website. He provided the advice on a Reddit thread where a site owner dealing with the problems a hacker injected into the website.
The website owner further asked what would be the right option to run 404 or 410 redirect on, to which Mueller replied that it doesn’t matter as practically there is not much difference between the status codes. He went on to say that they have a website which has less than 20 pages. However, the website has been injected with thousands of pages which they had 410’d. Rankings of the sites have not rebounded even after removing the pages.
Mueller’s SEO Advice on recovering from a site hack
Mueller said the first step towards addressing hacker injected pages, one should use the URL removal tool. It will hide the pages from the search result on an immediate basis.
The pages will be removed from the index when the website is crawled again, and the search results will normalise posts using the URL Removal tool, John said.
He further clarified that the recovery would take time depending upon the damage and amount of time the website was hacked. The existing pages which were hacked should be the first one to be dealt with as it can easily be refreshed by manually submitting the URLs. He goes on to elaborate further, stating that,
“The URL removal tools will hide them in the search results, which is a good first step. They’ll be recrawled over time and drop out of the index (404 or 410 doesn’t really matter), and usually the search results for the rest of the site go back to normal fairly quickly (though it certainly can take a few months for things to really settle back down, depending on how & how long the site was hacked).”
“… if a site has tricky issues already, then sometimes getting hacked essentially causes our systems to have to reconsider how the site should be shown in search. If you suspect it might be in that direction, then by all means still clean up the issue with the hack, but focus most of your time on significantly improving the site overall, rather than trying to remove all miniscule traces of the hack.”
Site hacks can worsen the already existing issues on the website, making Google reconsider showing the site on the search results. Hence, Mueller advises us to improve the website’s quality along with a thorough cleanup of the website, post the hack to make a good recovery of the lost ground.
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