I was asked recently whether Google actually indexed your meta description and I was about to say “of course!” when I had one of those rare flashes of caution and decided to check.
Our company’s home page has the natty meta description of:
“Trusted Dealers is THE SAFEST place to find and buy a second hand car online, with 10 points of difference to ensure you are happy with your deal.”
I know, I know – it could probably do with a refresh. Anyway, when you search Google for ‘trusted dealers’ it is this that displays in the SERPs.
Perfect, eh? Yet when you use the site: command to check whether it has been indexed, Google wags its finger and says no.
So that’s that cleared up and if anyone asks you, you can tell them ‘no’ and that I told you so.
But! The phrase does appear all over the internet. Remove the site: command from the query and no fewer than 129,000 matches are returned. Such as….
This happened because our blog was hacked for a brief while and a funnel page to a network of gambling affiliates was placed on the site. Someone then built a few hundred thousands links to this page – presumably using XRumer – and these links remain floating round the internet (incidentally: our massively expensive SEO agency didn’t notice this – I did, through a desultory check via ahrefs.com).
I don’t suppose there are many lessons from this except:
- Don’t rely on an SEO agency to do everything for you
- Update your WordPress often
- Despite Google’s claims that it expunges bad content and links from its index, that’s clearly nonsense: three months after the hack, all those XRumer-built links and hacked blog posts, connected to an empty affiliate scheme in the gambling sector remain in Google’s index.
I don’t imagine there’s much margin any more in doing this sort of thing, but if people are still making something of a living by auto-creating hundreds of thousands of pages at once and hacking WordPress, then I guess my musing the other week about the status of black hat SEO might be out of date in itself.
If you have the energy, you can probably do something with this collection of bits and bats. Sadly, I don’t.