Detecting Hacked Sites with Google Webmaster Tools

in Website Management

I'm getting 3-4 inquiries a month because of a businesses site being hacked. This is an issue that will only get worse! If you have a Word Press site, you are particularly vulnerable if for no other reason, Word Press is targeted because of its sheer numbers. By some estimates almost 50% of websites are Word Press. Word Press or not, you need to know if someone has compromised your website.

Google Webmaster Tools is very efficient at rooting out hacker data IF you know what to look for. Here are some simple things to check. This assumes you already have webmaster tools set up. (If you don't, call 50Bubbles at 937-471-6277 and we'll help you set it up for free!)

1. Check Search Queries

Search queries is under the Search Traffic menu in Google Analytics. Google will display the top search queries that are generating impressions for your site. If you see search queries that are not related to known content on your site, there could be content on your site you don't know about! Hackers can add pages to your site selling anything from Viagra to Football jerseys (I've seen both over the last month!).

2. Check "Links to Your Site"

Check out who links to your site. Here you might find links that shouldn't be there (you can disavow them but that's another blog). MORE IMPORTANTLY review the list of items under "How your date is linked". If you see keywords here that don't relate to any content that you can think of on your site, you might have a compromised site. Lastly, on this same page, check the list of "Your most linked content". If your site is compromised, very often this list will show EXTRA pages you didn't even know you had on your site (you won't find them in your site menu).

3. Other places to look

Under Google Index, check the "Content Keywords". If a hacker has injected content onto your site, very often keywords can appear in this list that don't make sense...yet another clue. You might also check Crawl errors. Lastly, make sure you check Security Issues. Google will flat out tell you if your site has a security issue. If Google says you have a security issue, you definitely have a problem! If Google says "...we haven't detected any security issues", don't assume that everything is OK! A hacked site doesn't necessarily mean you have malware or a virus. We are seeing more and more sites that in fact will pass the security test mentioned here but they have STILL been hacked.


It is possible to recover. If your website has been up a while and you've not upgraded the platform, it's probably vulnerable. If it's not hacked, you should have a backup routine that allows you to recover. If you have been hacked, you can get it cleaned up. Again, call us - we'll help you with that!