When your business is a web site and you rely on people finding you through search results, it can be heart attack provoking to find that your site is completely missing from Google. This is exactly what happened to a popular site called Searchengineland.com who discovered that their site was suddenly missing from the search results due to a mistake by Google.
Early Friday morning, users started reporting that the site searchengineland.com was suddenly missing from Google. Not only were its pages not showing up in search results, but if users entered the search term “site:searchengineland.com”, which lists all of the indexed pages for that domain, Google responded with “Your search – site:searchengineland.com – did not match any documents.” This meant that the domain, and all its pages, were delisted from Google.
The site was delisted because Google had detected that it was “Hacked with spam”. The problem is that this was a false positive in Google’s detections and there was nothing wrong with the site in the first place.
When BleepingComputer contacted Google, we were told that it was a false positive in their automated procedure that detects heavily defaced or spam-ridden hacked sites. This false positive caused the site to automatically be delisted from the search engine.
Google further told us that they became aware of this issue early in the morning and were able to reverse the action fairly quickly.
The problem is that Searchengineland.com is a popular site with visitors who are heavily tied into the search and SEO industry. Therefore, it would make sense that Google would be made aware of this issue quickly and resolve it.
What happens for the rest of the site owners who may not be as connected and discover their site is no longer listed in Google?
According to Google, sites who use their webmaster Search Console tool would have received a message stating that the site was hacked. They then could request a review that would be sent to Google where the owner can can explain that the detection is wrong or that the site is now clean again.
Unfortunately, instead of giving a grace period, it appears Google’s detections will automatically remove a site. Therefore, to make sure that someone from an organization sees these notifications, it is important to add multiple users to a site’s Search Console account. This way, if the main contact is traveling or unavailable, the other Search Console users can view these notifications and act upon them.