How to Fix Common Bugs and Issues in Cloned Websites

August 23, 2023
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Cloning an existing website has become increasingly common as more tools and scripts make it easy to quickly duplicate sites. However, cloned websites often contain bugs, display issues, performance problems, and security flaws. Fixing these common problems requires diligent debugging, optimization, and updating of the cloned site.

This guide will provide step-by-step instructions on how to identify and fix bugs in cloned websites. We’ll cover debugging errors in display and formatting, optimizing site speed, patching security vulnerabilities, updating outdated platforms, and more. With the right approach, you can take a cloned site that’s riddled with issues and turn it into a high-performing, customized site. When evaluating whether to clone or build a site from scratch, weighing the pros and cons of each option is recommended.

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How to Identify a Cloned Website

Before you can start fixing issues in a cloned website, you need to confirm that the site you’re working on is in fact a clone. Here are signs to look for:

Warning Signs of a Cloned Website

  • Duplicated content – A cloned site will contain content copied directly from the original site. Watch for identical text, images, videos, and other media.
  • Identical layout and design – Clone sites tend to have the exact same visual layout and styling. Reverse image searches can help spot copied designs.
  • Same code and files – Viewing the page source and probing site files can reveal code duplication and identical directories.
  • Broken backlinks – Links on the clone site pointing back to the original site may be broken.
  • Missing branding – References to the original site’s brand name may still be present.
  • SEO issues – Heavy duplication often triggers search engine penalties for thin or low-value content.

Using Reverse Image Search to Match Designs

Reverse image search makes it easy to spot if a site’s design is copied. Follow these steps:

  1. On the cloned site, right click on a representative image, video still, or section of the design.
  2. Select “Copy image address” or similar depending on the browser.
  3. Go to a reverse image search tool like TinEye or Google Images.
  4. Paste the image address into the search box.
  5. Review the search results for matches – any high percentage matches indicate cloning.

Checking for Copied Code

To definitively assess if code is duplicated from another site:

  1. On the suspected clone site, view the page source.
  2. Copy a portion of the source code, such as from the  tag.
  3. Search for that code snippet in Google by enclosing it in quotation marks.
  4. Scan the search results for matches – verbatim code matches confirm copying.

If the above checks reveal cloning, you can move on to diagnosing and fixing the typical issues in cloned sites.

Common Bugs and Issues in Cloned Sites

Cloned websites tend to suffer from an array of bugs and technical issues. Here are some of the most common problems and their symptoms:

Broken Links and Images

  • Links go to 404 error pages rather than proper destinations.
  • Images are missing, broken, or fail to load.
  • Videos and media assets don’t load properly.

Display and Formatting Errors

  • Web fonts fail to load.
  • Colors, spacing, and alignment are off.
  • Media elements overlap or have positioning issues.
  • Responsiveness breakpoints trigger layout failures.

Performance Lags

  • Long load times for pages and media.
  • High bandwidth usage and server load.
  • Slow response to user actions like scrolling or clicks.

Security Vulnerabilities

  • Susceptibility to cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.
  • Open redirect flaws that enable phishing links.
  • Weak or default admin passwords still active.

Outdated Platforms and Dependencies

  • Old versions of frameworks and libraries with bugs.
  • Vintage CMS platforms with security holes and performance limits.
  • Reliance on deprecated APIs and end-of-life software.

With cloned sites, these types of issues arise frequently because the clone process often fails to correctly transfer all dependencies, URLs, and configurations. The next section covers how to methodically fix each of these problems.

How to Fix Common Bugs and Issues

Fixing the many potential issues with a cloned site requires patience and attention to detail. Follow these best practices when debugging problems:

  • Use incognito browsing – View the live site in incognito windows to avoid cached files or cookies impacting appearance.
  • Inspect page elements – Browser developer tools help diagnose CSS, responsiveness, and media issues.
  • Enable error logging – Server and application logs record failures to trace.
  • Compare to original – Keep the original site open to compare and pinpoint discrepancies.
  • Check dependencies – Verify library versions and framework configurations match original.

With this disciplined approach, you can methodically resolve errors and get a cloned site looking and performing like the original.

Fixing Broken Links and Images

The cloned site is likely to have a large number of broken links and images. This results from copy-pasted content with invalid asset paths. To address:

  1. Use Screaming Frog SEO Spider to crawl all pages and find broken links and images. The crawler will list URLs returning errors.

  2. Re-upload any missing image assets, videos, documents, etc. Make note of the new valid URLs.

  3. Go through each page source and replace broken media URLs with the new corrected ones.

  4. For broken internal links, navigate to the target page and use the proper URL.

  5. When fixing links:

    • Remove lingering references to the original domain name.
    • Update old anchor text if needed.
    • Check for link redirects to workaround changes.
  6. Double check key pages like the home, contact, and blog to ensure no dead links remain.

  7. Consider adding a link checker like Integrity to continuously find and fix broken links as you develop the site.

Thoroughly fixing invalid file references and links eliminates one of the most stubborn issues in cloned websites.

Debugging Display Errors

A cloned site’s design and display can become riddled with issues like broken fonts, misaligned elements, and responsiveness problems. To debug:

  1. Enable the browser’s CSS validator to find errors like missing selectors and improper syntax causing cascading style problems.
  2. Use the network panel to audit font files and identify any that fail to load. Replace with functional font assets.
  3. Inspect container elements on the page and cross-check padding, margins, and positioning against the original site’s values.
  4. View at various viewport widths to diagnose media query and responsiveness failures. Adjust breakpoints and maximum widths as needed.
  5. For embedded media, double check that widths and heights are sized correctly without overflow or clipping issues.
  6. Look for overlapping elements and use z-index properties to control stacking if needed.
  7. On image-heavy pages, ensure proper img max-width values are set to prevent excessive page width.
  8. For interactive elements like accordions and tabs, test each state is working properly.

Meticulously inspecting all UI elements across viewing contexts allows you to pinpoint and fix pain points in the cloned site’s design implementation.

Optimizing Site Speed

Cloned sites often suffer from massive page weight, inefficient requests, and other performance penalties. To optimize:

  1. Use PageSpeed Insights to measure overall site performance and opportunities.
  2. Enable GZIP compression on text assets to reduce page weight.
  3. Configure browser caching policies through .htaccess for static assets.
  4. Load critical CSS inline while deferring non-essential CSS.
  5. Lazy load below-the-fold images and media after page load.
  6. Minify HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files to decrease their footprint.
  7. Replace bloated frameworks like Bootstrap with lighter alternatives like Tailwind CSS.
  8. Adopt AMP and PWA optimizations like cached static assets for repeat views.
  9. Upgrade to more performant web fonts.
  10. Migrate any blocking JavaScript to asynchronous execution.

Tuning page loading and responsiveness improves user experience and search visibility for cloned sites.

Patching Security Flaws

Cloned sites often retain the original site’s vulnerabilities, so comprehensive security hardening is essential. Steps include:

  • Update CMS and frameworks – Apply latest security patches which fix exploits.
  • Review privileges – Inventory users and remove any unneeded elevated access.
  • Change defaults – Update admin user names, ports, directories, etc. from defaults.
  • Add firewall rules – Block traffic from suspicious IPs or countries.
  • Enable HTTPS – Obtain and install SSL certificate to enable encryption.
  • Sanitize inputs – Escape all user-entered parameters before passing downstream.
  • Monitor traffic – Use analytics to detect anomalies indicating an attack.
  • Pen test – Hire experts to probe for undetected security gaps to address.

Locking down vulnerabilities through code hygiene, infrastructure configuration, and testing is critical before launching a cloned site live.

Updating Outdated Platforms

If a site clone is based on a CMS or other framework that has since been updated or replaced, extensive modernization may be needed.

  • Assess if the current platform has any remaining support and updates available.
  • Identify potential alternative frameworks providing current functionality.
  • Before migrating platforms, enumerate any legacy integrations needing re-implementation.
  • Allocate sufficient testing time for the shift to the new platform.
  • Incorporate deployment best practices like containerization to ease technical debt.
  • Consider a progressive rewrite of legacy portions rather than a big bang rewrite.
  • Take the opportunity to remove outdated, risky, and unneeded technical dependencies.

While daunting, upgrading dated platforms via iterative migration minimizes business disruption while keeping pace with technical advances.

Steps to Prevent Your Site From Being Cloned

Beyond fixing issues in cloned websites, site owners should take proactive measures to protect against cloning in the first place. Preventative tactics include:

Prohibit Cloning in Terms of Service

  • Specify in your TOS that cloning or duplicating your website is prohibited. This strengthens your legal position if pursuing enforcement actions.

Implement Clone Blocking Technologies

  • Scripts can detect and block scrapers through rate limiting and bot detection.
  • Front-end actions like right-click disabling or disabling file saving can deter casual cloning.
  • ReCaptcha can make bulk scraping of content more challenging.

Issue DMCA Takedown Notices

  • If your content is cloned without permission, request removal via DMCA notice to the site host.
  • List specific infringing pages and materials in the notice.
  • Track and pursue新增 or repeated instances of cloning through repeat notices.

Protect Branding and Assets via Trademark

  • Federally register trademarks and logos associated with your site and brand.
  • Include trademark notices on the site advising that branding and assets may not be used without permission.

Obfuscate Code

  • Minify HTML, JS, and CSS files so they are challenging to decipher if cloned.
  • Disable right-click ability to view page source on sensitive areas of the site.
  • Watermark images and other media with copyright notices natively in the assets.

Maintain Regular Backups

  • Automatically generate daily or weekly archives of code, database, and files.
  • Store backups externally for redundancy and ability to restore post-cloning.

With this multi-layered approach, site owners can significantly reduce the frequency and impact of cloning through prevention.

Legal Implications of Website Cloning

Cloning a website without permission raises significant legal considerations under both copyright and trademark law. Exact implications depend on the jurisdiction, but risks include:

  • Copyright infringement – Duplicating code, copy, images, and other creative content infringes site copyrights. Infringers face suits for damages.
  • Trademark infringement – Using cloned branding and assets can infringe trademark rights. Loss of quality control over branding is also basis for action.
  • Violation of Terms of Service – Clone sites breach the terms and usage standards set by the original site legal guidelines. This triggers enforcement provisions.
  • DMCA violations – Removing copyright management notices during cloning violates DMCA takedown protections. Infringers face stiff statutory penalties.
  • Loss of revenue and reputation – Site owners suffer economic harm from traffic diversion. Brand reputation also suffers from inferior clone quality.

Because of these potential violations under both civil and criminal law, cloning sites without permission entails serious legal risks for site owners.

The Future of Website Cloning

Despite the many downsides outlined, website cloning remains in high demand driven by several ongoing trends:

  • Increasing popularity – No-code site builders and clone scripts drive up copying through ease of use. More sites accept clones as “standard practice.”
  • Advanced cloning tools – Browser plug-ins and scraping tools continue to evolve in sophistication making cloning faster and more automated.
  • Customization over full duplication – Companies build on open source templates and tailor for verticals, rather than 100% duplication. Adds uniqueness.
  • Cloning for search optimization – SEO managers leverage cloning across domains to build authority by similarity, rather than full duplicate content.
  • Component reuse – Developers copy modular site components like shopping carts into new codebases rather than entire sites. Focuses duplication only on complex sections.

While cloning will persist given market demand, the emphasis appears to be shifting from full duplication to selective cloning of templates, components, and SEO patterns. This allows customization and value-add.

Final Thoughts

Cloning websites can initially seem like an easy shortcut but typically results in a hosted site riddled with technical issues. Fixing problems like broken links, display errors, performance lags, and security vulnerabilities requires systematic debugging and optimization.

Site owners should additionally take preventative measures like implementing clone blocking technologies and issuing DMCA notices to protect their content. Legal penalties for unauthorized cloning are steep under both copyright and trademark statutes.

Looking ahead, cloning appears likely to grow given the power of today’s duplication tools. But the focus is evolving beyond wholesale duplication toward customization of templates, modules, and SEO strategies. While cloning will remain prevalent, it will reward thoughtfulness and value-added differentiation rather than purely copying existing sites. When promoting a cloned site, essential marketing strategies are key to driving qualified traffic.

With the fixes and preventative measures covered in this guide, site owners can both remedy issues in cloned sites and protect the uniqueness of their properties moving forward. The result will be properly functioning sites that embrace cloning selectively rather than relying on wholesale duplication with all its associated problems. Leveraging readymade clone scripts can accelerate and simplify the cloning process.

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    Rohan Murthy

    Rohan Murthy is a freelance writer and in-house content lead at Zipprr, a custom software development company. With over 7 years of experience, he specializes in writing about business, technology and startups. As the in-house content lead, he creates blogs, whitepapers and webpage content for Zipprr. He has also worked with many other clients as a freelance writer, providing long-form and short-form content.