The other day I received an email from Google. A small transcript is below.
Dear site owner or webmaster of voodoochilli.net,
While we were indexing your web pages, we detected that some of your pages were using techniques that are outside our quality guidelines, which can be found here: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769&hl=en_GB. This appears to be because your site has been modified by a third party. Typically, the offending party gains access to an insecure directory that has open permissions. Often, they will upload files or modify existing ones, which then show up as spam in our index.
It goes on to say that they are going to remove my site voodoochilli.net from the index for at least 30 days.
Within 30 minutes of being alerted to the fact that one of my sites had been hacked I managed to remove the spam and change my passwords as well as other security precautions to stop it happening again. Still, it didn’t matter, my site has now had all 35 thousand pages removed from its index without any notice. Now, you may wonder why the title of this blog piece says “for no reason”, after all there was spam on my site, right? Wrong. There was spam on www.voodoochilli.net’s home page, but not on any of the other pages which make up the majority of the site, and more importantly from a business perspective there was not any spam on my completely unrelated company website http://design.voodoochilli.net
I am completely furious with Google. For almost 10 years I have been sticking to Google’s guidelines and being a good boy. I have worked really hard to get my sites indexed in Google. And one day, one of my most popular sites eventually gets a very minor spam attack (3 words and a link) which was a long time coming considering the site gets tens of thousands of visitors per day, and Google deletes all of my hard work just like that. It kind of makes you wonder why Google would take such a hard line. Sure spam needs to be fought but 30 minutes notice and a deletion of thousands of pages and my company website as an additional punishment? Come on! Other people might be considering paying Google for advertising at this point in an attempt to keep traffic levels high. Well it just so happens that we are inundated with work right now, and if anything need a little less to come in so it suits me just fine. I will however be looking at our advertising strategy in the future and will be looking at alternatives from Google in regards to adwords and adsense. The combined revenue that Google sees from my company is substantial and I don’t think I have exactly been rewarded for being a good customer.
I am also angry about the fact that they deleted all of the pages from Voodoochilli.net. There are currently over 8,000 registered members on that site, each with their own portfolio, their own little website and sub domain. Should they get reprimanded because some jerk managed a bit of sql injection on the home page? Because in 10 years there was one and only one successful attempt to put spam onto the site? It’s not like it was hurting anyone anyway. I once received an email from Facebook that directed me to someone’s profile that was hijacked. I am sure the same email was sent to hundreds if not thousands of other people and would have been reported. I don’t see Google deleting all of the pages there for over a month. Most likely the admin team would have received a polite call from Google telling them about it and advising what action to take. We have all seen spammy comments on WordPress and Blogger hosted blogs. How mcuh would it have cost Google to call me before dexinging my site? Fifty pence? How about just an email with a days notice? I suspect they would have been sued if a site like Facebook, MySpace, WordPress or Digg was just deindexed like that, sites that often get spam placed on them. That’s the problem here. Voodoochilli.net is a pretty big site, but we are small fry when compared to the people that Google really don’t want to piss off. All I can do is have a little moan here and halt advertising with Google. Well my moan is over and I do feel slightly better because of it. I just hope someone from Google actually reads this and learns from it. Remember your mantra, Google - “Don’t be evil”. Maybe its time your had a big long look at yourself as I’m seeing ideals being broken.