April 28th, 2021 at 4:22 pm

What is Google Safe Browsing and what to do if you get blocked

7 minutes reading


We all know that Google is easily the most used Search Engine in the world and because of that there is a lot of pressure on Google to deliver a secure experience to all of the users. You can say that they’ve made a commitment. This is a commitment to safer online browsing that has led Google to invest its resources wisely – investments made into identifying and flagging any potentially malicious websites and then promptly “blocklisting” them.

The term “blocklisting” is meant to describe a list of potentially malicious(deceptive) websites and further inform their visitors to move forward with caution when accessing these. Additionally, Google will notify the website owner of an issue and simultaneously impede the attacker’s intentions.

Google blocklists around 10,000 websites every day. And your website could be one of them! Why are we explaining this? Well, this is all part of Google’s Safe Browsing initiative, and readers need some context for better understanding it. We will talk a bit more about this essential Google service in today’s blog post and what to do if your website has been blocklisted by it!

Google Safe Browsing in a nutshell

Google’s cybersecurity team first developed Safe Browsing back in 2007, and its primary purpose was to protect users across the web from phishing attacks. It then evolved into something more, which gives users tools to help protect themselves from web-based threats like malware, unwanted software, and social engineering across desktop and mobile platforms. Chrome and other browsers use Safe Browsing to show users a warning message before they visit a dangerous site or download a harmful app.

With Safe Browsing you can:

  • Check pages against google’s Safe Browsing blocklists based on platform and threat types.
  • Warn users before they click links in your site that may lead to infected pages.
  • Prevent users from posting links to known infected pages from your site.

*Note: The Safe Browsing API is for non-commercial use only. If you need to use it to detect malicious URLs for commercial purposes – meaning ‘for sale or revenue-generating purposes’, through your own website or platform, you will need to refer to the Web Risk API.

Google Safe Browsing is more than just a warning system for browsing. It also notifies web admins when malicious actors compromise their websites and helps them diagnose and resolve the problem so that their visitors can be safer online. Safe Browsing protections work across Google products with ease and by default.

You are under protection by Google Safe Browsing, even if you haven’t realized it yet! People should expect that the web is safe and easy to use by default. You shouldn’t have to be a security expert to browse the web, and you shouldn’t have to know what phishing or malware means. You should expect that software is going to tell you when something has gone wrong. That’s what Safe Browsing is trying to do.

Google Blocklisting: When? How? Why?

A URL can get blocklisted by Google for a variety of reasons. There’s always a chance that it could be an innocent mistake that leads to being blocklisted, but also an equal chance that it happened due to cutting corners during the website setup. Those are only two examples, of course!

So why don’t we take a look at this list that will show the most common reasons to be blocklisted:

  • Defacement
  • Phishing Attacks
  • SEO Spam
  • Unsecure Plugins
  • Malware

Respective to the reason for the block, users will see one of the following warnings upon accessing a website included in Google’s URL Blocklist:

  • The site ahead contains malware – This warning is pretty self-explanatory – it alerts that the website you are about to access might be affected by malware and attempt to install malicious software on your device.
  • Deceptive site ahead – The term ‘deceptive’ might not ring the bell as much as ‘phishing’. By ‘deceptive sites’ Google indicates websites that are possibly phishy and might mislead you into providing vulnerable data or contain false information.
  • Suspicious site – Indicates that the website is not trustworthy and might contain questionable data.
  • The site ahead contains harmful programs – Websites indicated by this warning might entice you into installing damaging software that will harm your browser experience.
  • This page is trying to load scripts from unauthenticated sources – This warning indicates that the source of the website is not trustworthy. Hence, it is not recommended to access such.
Google Safe Browsing and Google Blocklist - > The site ahead contains malware showing browser warning example.

It doesn’t matter which browser someone uses, whether it’s Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or any other web browser. A blocklisted URL won’t be showing up through any of them. Being blocklisted is something that any website owner should avoid at all costs. It is rather plain to see how such a significant drop in traffic will negatively impact your business, growth, and bottom line.

Even if you don’t get blocklisted for any of the aforementioned reasons, your SEO could still be affected by any malicious or insecure activity.

What this means in short is that you should:

  • Make sure your website is secure.
  • Build and develop your website in a safe manner.
  • Avoid risky ‘black hat’ practices as much as possible.
  • Avoid or monitor user file uploads.
  • Use strong passwords.
  • Always keep everything updated, especially plugins!

*Note: Risky practices, including keyword stuffing, hidden keywords, and articles that aren’t connected to your brand, will quickly flag your website. Google will then start to filter your URLs out of their searches, and you’ll see your rankings drop dramatically. Even though these techniques can be effective in the short term, implementing them will be detrimental to your online project if misapplied.

Google Safe Browsing has my site blocklisted: How to resolve this?

We intend that this blog post be informative and easy to read so that you can get the necessary information without much hassle, so we hope you’ve followed along with us so far. Now, another important part of knowing about Google Safe Browsing is that you may at some point need to get yourself removed from the Google Blocklist.

Below we have listed the methods that you will need to undertake to request that your website be removed from the Google Blocklist. It would be best if you only attempted it after resolving the issues that Google has detected. Otherwise, you risk having to wait a longer period of time before you can request another review!

To request a security issue review from Google:

  • Navigate to the Security Issues tab in the Search Console.
  • Review the issues to confirm all have been cleaned.
  • Check the box to confirm I have fixed these issues.
  • Click Request a Review.
  • Fill in the information with as much detail as possible about what was cleaned.

To request a spam review from Google:

  • Navigate to the Search Traffic tab in the Search Console.
  • Click the Manual Actions section.
  • Review the issues to confirm all have been cleaned.
  • Click Request a Review.
  • Fill in the information with as much detail as possible about what was cleaned.

Conclusion

That is the gist of it. We could talk more in-depth about it, but it was essential to present the critical information to our readers in an accessible format. This blog post carries information that will help anyone still struggling or utterly unaware of how this Google service works! For more about it, in case you are interested, you could always read the Safe Browsing transparency report released by Google.

Additionally, we would like to say that HostArmada offers its malware protection and removal services, so if your website gets blocklisted by Google, you can come to us for help on how to resolve it. If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please reach us back at any time.