In computer networks, a proxy server is a server (a computer system or an application program) which services the requests of its clients by forwarding requests to other servers. A client connects to the proxy server, requesting some service, such as a file, connection, web page, or other resource, available from a different server. The proxy server provides the resource by connecting to the specified server and requesting the service on behalf of the client. A proxy server may optionally alter the client's request or the server's response, and sometimes it may serve the request without contacting the specified server. In this case, it would 'cache' the first request to the remote server, so it could save the information for later, and make everything as fast as possible. A proxy server that passes all requests and replies unmodified is usually called a gateway or sometimes tunneling proxy. A proxy server can be placed in the user's local computer or at specific key points between the user and the destination servers or the Internet.

26 November 2007

If You've Been Proxy Hacked

The simplest test, if you are experiencing a problem, is to examine Google search results for a phrase (search term in quotes) that should be unique to your page. For example, if your home page says "Fred's Widget Factory sells the best down-home widgets on Earth" then you can search for that phrase.

You want to use a phrase (or combination of phrases) that should only appear on your page, and nowhere else on the web… or very few places at least. Then you do the search - if there's more than one result (your page), then you need to examine the other URLs that are listed. If some of them are delivering an exact copy of the page, you just may be dealing with a proxy that has hijacked your content.

A typical proxy link looks something like this:
It's easy to see what URL that would fetch, if were a real proxy. Other proxy URLs encode the target URL so it's not always that easy to determine what they're going to fetch just by looking.

The mere presence of proxies in the index doesn't necessarily mean you'll be dropped or penalized. The situation inside Google's systems is no doubt very complex. I have seen sites with multiple proxies indexed, and no ill effects. It's possible that there are certain factors (trust, authority, domain age, etc.) that make one site more susceptible than another. I have no idea how they make the decision on which copy of a page to keep.

If you discover that you have a problem (pages knocked out of the index, -999 "penalty"), and you can identify proxies as duplicate content, a reinclusion request is likely to work in the short term, while you implement countermeasures. If you don't mind sharing your information with me so that I can use it for further research, send an email to with the affected URL and the URL of the search result page that shows the proxy duplicates, along with any search terms where your ranking appears to be affected.

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