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Do hackers hijack your search engine listings?

Are your search engine rankings still yours? Other people might hijack your search engine rankings and they might steal your web site visitors. The worst thing is that you might not even notice it.

Are you losing visitors without knowing it?

Imagine your web site URL is listed in the search engine results on Google, Yahoo and MSN. Most people that click on your URL in the search engine results are sent to your web site.

However, some people that click on your web site URL are sent to a totally unrelated web site that has nothing to do with your site.

Although your web site URL is displayed in the browser, people see a totally different site that has nothing to do with you or your company.

How do these hackers steal your visitors?

The hackers exploit a flaw in the software of some domain name servers (DNS). The hackers send incorrect information to these DNS server so that the server redirects the traffic for the URLs to another site.

If the DNS server does not validate that the information has come from an authoritative source it will send visitors to the wrong pages. That means that people who enter your URL in the web browser will be sent to the hacker's pages instead of your pages.

How can you protect your web site?

It's important that you use a reliable host that does not use an open DSN server. Go to and enter the URL of your web site. You should see PASS in the Open DNS servers line. If your domain name fails the test, you should contact your web host.

Using a secure DNS server is crucial if you don't want to expose your web site to hackers. If your web host cannot fix the DNS problems, you should use a new web host.

Note that a secure DNS server only makes sure that no-one hijacks your search engine rankings. To get high search engine rankings, you must make sure that search engines can parse your web pages and that you have many inbound links that tell search engines that your web site is important.

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April 2006 search engine articles