Have you ever visited a website and met with this message: Deceptive Site Ahead? Or some other warning message with a red screen. This is Google warning you from entering a potentially harmful website. This message could also appear to the visitors of your website if you are not careful enough. This could harm your business and your reputation. Read on to find out why Google blacklist certain websites and how your website can avoid this fate.
Why does Google blacklist websites?
Every day, Google crawls billions of websites and discovers thousands of websites with harmful content. A major portion of these websites consists of legitimate websites compromised by hackers. Let’s see what causes Google to blacklist websites.
Malware refers to “Malicious Software”. Software designed to cause harm, steal data and corrupt systems are categorized as malware.
Google uses virtual machines to analyze websites that it has deemed compromised. Google’s algorithm also identifies if a website is distributing malicious software for download. These programs, often injected by hackers on a website, could spread and infect the visitors’ device too. These malicious campaigns frequently have a predefined agenda such as — extortion of money, stealing of sensitive information, infecting & using the victim’s system in a larger botnet, and so on.
Unless the harmful code detected in a website is cleaned, the website stands blacklisted with the message “This website contains malware” or a “The site ahead contains harmful programs” message.
Phishing websites pose as a close replica of legitimate websites in order to trick the user into revealing sensitive information.
Google uses several techniques to determine the genuineness of a webpage. They have strict criteria to examine pages for suspicious and misleading content.
Google also allows users to submit websites as a phishing-site to Google Safe Browsing. Several such reports could result in the blacklisting of the website.
How to check if Google has blacklisted your website?
The red warning page warns your site visitors about the potentially harmful nature of your website. This, invariably, causes your visitor traffic to plummet. In fact, websites lose as much as 95% of visitor traffic after being blacklisted by Google because they stop appearing in top SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). This means your web pages will witness a sharp drop in their rankings and may even stop appearing in SERPs altogether when Google blacklists your website. Hence, an undue dip in website traffic could be an indication that your website has been blacklisted by Google.
- Go to the Webmasters tool page for your website
- Click on Security Issues
- Check the pages flagged for malware
Google uses blacklist as the last resort after repeatedly warning the website owner about potential security issues on their website. So, pay close attention to what Google has to say about your website. Alternatively, regularly scanning your website for malware can also prevent your website from landing on the Google blacklist.
How to remove Google blacklist?
Remove your website from Google blacklist with these 3 easy steps.
Step 1: Identify the cause of Google blacklist
- Log in to your Google Webmasters Tools page
- Click on Security Issues on the left pane
- Check the URL and the discovery date
- Check the logs for any changes in the file on or immediately before the discovery date
Step 2: Remove the infection
Different attacks require different remedies. If you are still unable to identify the infected files, you could hire a professional to take care of it. Or, you could take the following steps:
- Scan the website for malware.
- Compare the current website with a backed-up version (preferably from before the discovery date)
- Manually remove any suspicious files
- Update all extensions. Remove redundant and unnecessary add-ons
- Manually remove tables of the infected database
- Check for new admins or log in IP
- Check for illegitimate users
- Run a vulnerability assessment and penetration testing
Step 3: Send a review request to Google
To remove your website from the Google blacklist, you have to request a malware review.
- Go to Google Webmasters Tools
- Click on Security Issues
- Tick the “I have fixed the issues” checkbox
- Click on “Request a review”
- Give detailed information about the steps you have taken to remove the infection from your website
- Click on Manual Action
It might take a few days for the review to pass. For more details on how to request a malware review read this: Request a review template
Being named under the Google blacklist is a disaster for any e-commerce website. But, the damage to business and reputation can be minimized through prompt action. Keep your eyes and ears open for early symptoms of an attack. Do not ignore the security warnings by Google to avoid the Deceptive Site Ahead? warning.
To prevent getting blacklisted by Google, maintain active security around your website. Astra’s all-around security suite includes firewall protection, malware scanners, vulnerability assessment, and penetration testing. Get in touch with security experts for your security needs.
If you’ve any questions related to the security issues on your website, feel free to comment below.