How hard it is? Surprisingly easy.
How it’s done? Very simply.
Firstly, I would like to point out, I’m not talking about making a replica of some sort or designing a website to mimic some other. I’m repeating myself but I believe it is important – I’m talking about real time site cloning that has devastating impact on original websites.
There are a few methods on how site cloning (mirroring) can be done. I’m going to focus on one efficient method that works like a charm.
So without further ado, let me get back to the process itself.
How to clone a web site in five minutes
- domain name – usually, a hacked domain is used, or a free domain (.tk, .ga, or such), or if a hacker wants to speed up his clone becoming big, an expired domain with a nice backlink profile
- super simple php script – literally 30 lines of code that a rookie programmer could make (I really can’t stress it enough how simple it is to do it)
- that is it, script is uploaded and clone is active, google indexing can commence
I was actually thinking on publishing the full code and exact process in this post but I decided against it, simply so I would not be accused of pouring gasoline on the fire, so to say. Savvy searchers will probably find it without much problems and if needed, I’ll provide it for any analyst with reputation or even a google employee that would want to check my claims.
Hosting the clone site
This is a really funny, or should I say sad, about the whole site clone issue.
Host of the clone site is actually hosting only those few kilobytes of the php script.
Original site is hosting everything else, pages and media, since the content is really pulled from it’s own server, with all content rewritten so it portrays the clone site itself.
- original-site.com is now also clone-site.com
- original-site.com/any-page is now also clone-site.com/any-page
Disclaimer: clone-site.com in the examples is NOT this site. It is a placeholder for any clone site out there.
Modifying the clone site
Of course, no one will clone your web site just to display a 100% identical copy. There is usually a deeper, money making agenda in it.
That simple php script I mentioned earlier, has a very basic yet effective “find and replace” part of it. It is fully automatic and in basic practical examples is commonly used to:
Basic examples of clone modification
- change site name and url so the original site is not mentioned in any way or form
- change site logo
- change of article authors or any important persons listed on the site
- change of banners and ads to something that benefits the hacker
Advanced clone modification example
One of my sites got fully cloned and every internal link on the clone was modified to add more keyword to the mix, with some popular keywords that resemble names of famous singers, actors and such. Example being, they even changed my page navigation links (1 2 3 4 5….) into: Sean Connery keyword keyword, Britney Spears keyword keyword, Jennifer Lopez keyword keyword, etc.
Page titles and heading tags were also pulled through the script, with identical pattern. All my page titles turned from “My nice little title” into “Actor name keyword keyword” kind of thing.
Url structure was identical as on my site, because if they spoof that, clone wouldn’t work on auto pilot.
Don’t think I need to explain much that they are doing it all to get the maximum benefit from getting indexed in google and to actually rank in google for such odd yet popular queries.
So, example being, lets say the original web site is about healthy diets. Clone site adds “Oprah Winfrey diet choice” and such internal links, in an aim to rank for even more queries than original site content would cover.