Case Study: Mechan

A hacked Wordpress site leaves Mechan facing up to a clean up operation, lost credibility, lost traffic and a Google penalty.

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We were the victims of numerous spam attacks. It required Jon’s team to uncover and clean up the situation. Its reassuring to have the professional support we need.

Richard Carr

Key points

  • Wordpress website hacked multiple times.
  • Google displayed hacked site warnings to site visitors.
  • Junk content buried in the website.
  • Damaged client credibility.
  • High volume of spam links pointed at domain.
  • Web agency lacked experience for clean up.
  • Domain disavow work conducted.
  • Site removed from wordpress.
  • Rebuilt and cleaned up.

About our work

Mechan has been a long standing client but has always called on us to help on specific internet marketing work on an adhoc basis. 

So we have delivered Link Building plans, Adwords campaigns and SEO Reviews as part of our relationship dating back to 2005. 

Mechan has always however used a full service agency for its web build and branding work and we have dovetailed in as part of that overall strategy. 

Richard as he routinely did, contacted us in 2015 to audit his search and analytics performance. Unfortunately in that review it was clear a large scale spam attack had got through to the website, leaving behind a litter of spam linking Mechan to software downloads, adult themed content and wholesale clothing. 

This was both embarrassing for the client as well as potentially damaging to business  - Google had already begun to warn site visitors by displaying 'hacked site' warning messages. 

 After reporting this in our review, the problem was patched up, only for it to return in a short while. Wordpress is unfortunately often in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Plugins can be attacked cleverly with the website owners often unaware they have been targeted. This can leave behind a trail of destruction ranging from embarrassing web content right through to official Google penaltys. 

After discussions with Richard, we elected to bite the bullet and remove the website from WordPress altogether. Instead we temporarily created a static quarantined HTML/CSS version of the site which stopped any further attacks (and allowed us to start a formal clean up process). 

In the background we started building a new secure CMS with a full client feature list. Our clean up work consisted of: 

  1. Identifying rogue content and removing it from the Google index. 
  2. Listing all spam links pointing at the website. 
  3. Updating the clients disavow files. 
  4. Issuing a 410 response for any attempt to hit spam urls.
  5. Building a clean and secure CMS.

This took time and unfortunately carried expense for Richard.

We advise all our clients to move away from Wordpress installs and build custom CMS features you really need. If you do however run a Wordpress site, we recommend you follow the Google recommendations. Always ensure your site is up to date and all plugins are recent and fully supported.

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