Sunday Morning SEO: Using Google’s Spam Report to Fight a Cloaking Scraper
A couple weeks ago, I published my regular post on a recurring event in my niche. The event was a product release that comes out about once every three months. Typically, I rank right away for the relevant keywords because most of my competitors are not very knowledgeable about SEO. However, this time I did not get my usual traffic spike.
So, being the curious cat that I am :), I did some investigating.
I looked at the search engine results page (SERP) for the most relevant keyword and saw that my post was not in the top 50 results. Instead, a site had scraped (copied through automatic means) the opening sentences of my blog entry and was ranking on the third results page. Also, they cloaked their post. In other words, they redirected it to a unrelated product.
Fighting the Cloaking Scraper
Usually, it takes time to fight a scraper that’s outranking you for a long tail keyword. Sure, you can go to Google and ask them to fix the results since you’re the original content creator. But Google is a big company with millions (billions?) of search results. The chance of them manually fixing the result is pretty low. You can contact the scraper and hope they stop but people are reluctant to give up their traffic. Oftentimes you just have to build links until Google’s algorithm trusts and ranks your site.
In my situation though, the scraper was also cloaking. Cloaking is a black hat tactic that Google frowns upon because it tricks the user into thinking they are visiting a page but instead they are redirected to an unrelated page.
I went to Google’s spam report page and reported the cloaked post. It took a few days but Google removed the offending post from their index. As a result, my post made the top 10 and my traffic increased.