I Disappeared From Google

I just about had a heart attack this morning when my SEO ranking software said none of my pages were in Google anymore

You may have disappeared from Google, been listed as a malware site or at least looked like you got banned from Google results.

Because Google threw a code error from hell today when they accidentally identified every site on the Internet as a malware site.

Google even listed themselves, Google.com as a malware site. Just saw this Google is malware screenshot on Digg.

How many struggling marketers dropped dead in this economy today when they saw this. Sounds like a Google practical joke to me. Not real practical listing Google and the whole Internet as malware or much of a joke. LOL


1/31/2009 09:02:00 AM
If you did a Google search between 6:30 a.m. PST and 7:25 a.m. PST this morning, you likely saw that the message “This site may harm your computer” accompanied each and every search result. This was clearly an error, and we are very sorry for the inconvenience caused to our users.

What happened? Very simply, human error. Google flags search results with the message “This site may harm your computer” if the site is known to install malicious software in the background or otherwise surreptitiously. We do this to protect our users against visiting sites that could harm their computers. We maintain a list of such sites through both manual and automated methods. We work with a non-profit called StopBadware.org to come up with criteria for maintaining this list, and to provide simple processes for webmasters to remove their site from the list.

We periodically update that list and released one such update to the site this morning. Unfortunately (and here’s the human error), the URL of ‘/’ was mistakenly checked in as a value to the file and ‘/’ expands to all URLs. Fortunately, our on-call site reliability team found the problem quickly and reverted the file. Since we push these updates in a staggered and rolling fashion, the errors began appearing between 6:27 a.m. and 6:40 a.m. and began disappearing between 7:10 and 7:25 a.m., so the duration of the problem for any particular user was approximately 40 minutes.

Thanks to our team for their quick work in finding this. And again, our apologies to any of you who were inconvenienced this morning, and to site owners whose pages were incorrectly labelled. We will carefully investigate this incident and put more robust file checks in place to prevent it from happening again.

Thanks for your understanding.

Update at 10:29 am PST: This post was revised as more precise information became available (changes are in blue). Here’s StopBadware’s explanation.

Posted by Marissa Mayer, VP, Search Products & User Experience

Anybody looking to hire a slightly used ex Google programmer?


  1. Posted January 31, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Just caught this: It’s Google’s outsourced malware partner, stopbadware.org, that’s gone down….

  2. Posted January 31, 2009 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like an easy enough mistake to make. Poor guy who did that is probably having one hell of a day.

  3. Posted January 31, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if oops is sufficient in times like this.

  4. Posted January 31, 2009 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Saw Matt’s tweet too. Imagine the thousands of stressed out website owners :-)

  5. Posted January 31, 2009 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Google Always mistake or not.

  6. Posted January 31, 2009 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    That was quite scary but in retrospective seems funny.

    Strange we can we held by silly piece of code.

  7. Posted February 1, 2009 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Oh well, yes…I was online when this happened…and it’s kinda scary when things don’t pull up on Google…I’m kinda Google-help-me-with-everything internet savvy…so if this happens again, at least i’d know it’s temporary…but still hope it doesn’t happen again.

  8. Posted February 1, 2009 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I bet Yahoo and MSN were jumping for joy…

  9. Nicole
    Posted February 3, 2009 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Whew I thought maybe you really did disappear. Glad that’s not the case. LOL!

  10. Posted February 7, 2009 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    It is kinda funny . . . after the fact of course.

  11. Posted February 7, 2009 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    @TheMediGuy, I thought it was funny about 30 seconds after I got my breath back and smoked two cigarettes.

    It is also funny that this got the highest click thru rate from by AWeber list ever.

  12. Posted September 15, 2009 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    That is too strange. Good thing it was across the board and not just your website!

  13. Posted October 10, 2010 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    dont panic it might be google dance .or just check if your website still indexed if its not .then there is a problem,