Sunday, 9 January 2011

Does Google Consider Your Site Safe?

Recently, Google introduced a new security layer to it's search engine results pages (SERPs) which informs users if a site has been compromised through hacking (see post: Google Adds New Security Layer To SERPs).

Although this new security layer is good at protecting users and their computers from sites that have been hacked, what you may not know is that Google maybe warning users not to visit your site, because of your outbound links.

Last Friday, I received a message from John Gilbert of The Blog Farm informing me that my blog was unsafe to visit because it had a link to a site that has malware. After doing some checks on Google, Webmaster Tools and even on Google Safe Browsing Diagnostic Page, there was no indication any said links existed on my blog and that my site was safe.

John then provided a screenshot of the message he was receiving from Google when trying to access my blog. Here's a copy of that screenshot (Site omitted due to legal reasons. Click image to enlarge):

Click to Enlarge

Initially, I was shocked because I'm very careful who I link to on my blog. Furthermore, I could not understand why Google's SERPs, Webmaster Tools and the Google Safe Browsing Diagnostic Page were not picking this up.

After further investigation, it was found that John was using Google Chrome whereas I was using Internet Explorer. It was also found that the said link was actually a comment from a reader on one of my blog posts. The link that this reader had posted was actually to a respected site. However, because it had recently been hacked and malware left on the site, that site plus my blog was now considered harmful by Google. If it wasn't for John, I wouldn't of been aware of the problem, costing me crucial visitors.

So the moral of the story is this:

If you run a blog, discussion board or any site that allows visitors to post messages and links, be warned. You may be careful in ensuring that your site is safe, but it only takes one outbound link to a site that has been compromised to cost you visitors, money and maybe your reputation.

Also, don't fully rely on Google SERPs, Webmaster Tools or Google Safe Browsing Diagnostic Page to pick anything out of the ordinary. These might indicate everything if fine but as you can see from my case, it wasn't.

My suggestion is check your outbound links often using Google Chrome to access your site on a regular basis. That way, you can be sure your site is considered safe and not being blocked by the major search engine.

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To Your Success!


  1. Another great post, Derek! I hope you've shared on AB's wall. This is valuable information that every blogger and website owner should know.

    ~ Dawn

  2. Thanks for the information. I have had the same thing happen to me. I had never added malware to any of my blogs or sites. Took me a while to figure it out. Something indirect from my own sites, just like you.

  3. Thank you Dawn. I have posted a link to this article on both Authentic Blogger and Bloggers Network groups. I've also created a "Doc" on my group so that new members have easy access to this information.


  4. Yes , due to addition of links via embedded scripts , I have found a lot of fellow bloggers blogs and asked them to do the needful.

    Basically I'm using Sophos Anti-virus , so malicious website and the code are blocked and the code or the script which is infected is shown.
    so we can ask the blog owner to remove it

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Wonderful post Derek. So happy that I found your blog. I am definitely following you. Thanks for the advice, as I am new to blogging.


  6. Thank you for the information Derek! I will have a look at the outbound links because I have seen this somewhere yesterday in my search to find a solution to the crisis that I had yesterday :)

  7. Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Many thanks.

  8. Jeannette Paladino29 February 2012 at 12:51

    Thanks for the advice. I don't use Google Chrome very often but I will start to do so to access my blog and learn if Google has detected any bad links that would put me on their unsafe list.

  9. Great advice. Wish I had read it earlier then I would have known about the problem that I just had today! Thanks Derek for helping me to fix it and referring me back to this great piece! I am going to share this now1

    1. I'm happy that I was able to help you Claire and thank you for sharing this post so that it may help others with the same problem.


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