In the past month I’ve had three clients ask why unwanted text links are appearing on their WordPress websites, only to discover they were not there.
While this appears to be a mysterious and malevolant development it is actually quite innocent and easy to resolve.
What we are talking about is text on your website being transformed, without your knowledge, into links to an advertiser’s website. Here is an example.
If this website was at the mercy of this sinister hijacking, that sentence would have been PUBLISHED without any links and the links would have APPEARED to the end user without your knowledge.
There are three crucial points to note with this problem:
- WordPress DOES NOT place any ads on your standalone, self-hosted website at all.
- In most cases, your website is NOT AFFECTED or INFECTED at all
- The text ads you see are happening ONLY on the WEB BROWSER of INDIVIDUAL users due to malware or rogue add-ons
There are some simple solutions to restore your world to a state of sanity and purity.
Test the site then cleanse your computer
The first thing to do, if you ever encounter this, is to test your site by asking a friend in a different office or household to visit your website and see if they can see any text links that you are noticing.
As one of my clients did this week, she took a screen shot of her computer to give me a reference guide. On your computer keyboard, look for a key labelled PrtScrn or similar. When you click it, it should take a copy of your screen which you can then Paste into a Word document or image software to send to your helper.
At this point, you should discover the issue is only related to your computer.
The next step is to look at your site on different web browsers on your computer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera, etc. You might see these phantom ads only appearing on one or two of your browsers.
In a browser displaying these ads, look for the Tools menu (or similar) or a menu item called Add Ons or Plug Ins or Extensions. Here you should find some sneaky components that you have added either unknowingly (it came bundled with some other software you were downloading) or through a mischievous or malevolent component you DID knowingly install. Look for the option to disable and, better yet, REMOVE the component.
These annoying trouble makers come under various names, including these scoured from various internet forums:
- Software Assist
- Mighty Magoo
- Download and Save
- Facebook Dislike extension on Google Chrome
- Text Enhance
Finally, it is worth looking in your list of Programs on your computer and removing any that look suspicious, along with running some trusted anti-spyware software such as SpyBot.
If the problem persists, contact us and we can refer you to some great IT tech people who will help you cleanse your computer thoroughly.