January 12, 2011
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.
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.
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.
Derek Jones is the owner of Derek’s Home and Business Blog, a blog dedicated to providing Business and Marketing Tips, Search Engine News and SEO Articles. You can view his blog by visiting: www.derekjones.co.cc.