Google Webmaster Tools Now Highlights Security Issues

Last week at Pubcon, Google’s Matt Cutts said that Google was working on the next generation of hacked site detection during his keynote. Google has announced some updates today in the way they communicate with webmasters.

There is a brand new section within Google Webmaster Tools that now offers a portal for “Security Issues” to allow webmasters to not only be alerted when they have a security issue or evidence that a site has been hacked, but also give more detailed information on the nature of the issue.

Google Webmaster Tools Security Issues

The new Security Issues area will list sites and pages that Google believes has been hacked with malware or spam. It will include specific URLs, including the problem code snippets from the site if relevant, and the date Google last detected the issue. The date will be especially helpful if a site is attempting to clean up from a mass hacked site problem, and need a check to see if the problem really has been fixed.

Google will also detail the type of malware, such as whether it was a website template injection, a SQL injection, or a malware code injection. If it was a spam issue, they will include sample URLs which contain the spam, with the alert of it being a content injection.

Having this level of details about the type of issue will go a long way to helping webmasters, particularly those who are in the novice side of webmaster skills, to determine how the issue happened, and what they need to look at in order to fix it. Some webmasters with a WordPress blog might not be able to tell the difference between an SQL injection or if it was an injection coming from a template or plugin.

Google Webmaster Tools Suspicious Snippet

When available, webmasters can then click the specific issues to get even more details, such as exact code snippets Google has detected as well as the recommended actions on how to fix the spam or malware issue. It also reminds users to fetch a page as a Googlebot, in case the spammy content has been hidden through CSS, if they aren’t able to see it on the page when they look at it.

Google Webmaster Tools Request a Review

Lastly, it is easier for webmasters to request a review once they have cleaned up any spam or malware issues. On the same Security Issues page, there is a button where webmasters can easily request a review.

This is especially helpful because sites with malware have a “This site may harm your computer” warning alerting potential visitors that Google advises searchers to not visit the site. So after the webmaster checks a box confirming the issues have been fixed, the review request can be submitted.

This new change to Webmaster Tools will definitely be helpful to all webmasters who have faced having to fix a site after it has been hacked, especially for those who might not be as tech savvy as others, and then make it easy for a site to recover in Google.

Related reading

Google Sandbox Is it still affecting new sites in 2019
A guide to implementing Google’s “How-to” schema
How progressive web apps positively impact your SEO
Improving your site's SEO by checking duplicate content