I got the following notification from Google the other day:
Subject: Removal from Google’s Index
Date: January 9, 2009 10:12:37 PM JST
Dear site owner or webmaster of debito.org,
While we were indexing your webpages, 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. 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. Many times, they will upload files or modify existing ones, which then show up as spam in our index.
We detected cloaking on your site and suspect this is the cause. For example at http://www.debito.org/ we found:
[Cloaked information deleted because if I cite it here, it will in fact be found by search spiders for real. It’s a string of words regarding medications and potions for various ills and predilections.]
For more information about what cloaking is, visit http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=66355&hl=en.
In order to preserve the quality of our search engine, pages from debito.org are scheduled to be removed temporarily from our search results for at least 30 days.
We would prefer to keep your pages in Google’s index. If you wish to be reconsidered, please correct or remove all pages (may not be limited to the examples provided) that are outside our quality guidelines. One potential remedy is to contact your web host technical support for assistance. For more information about security for webmasters, see http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/04/my-sites-been-hacked-now-what.html. When such changes have been made, please visit https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/reconsideration?hl=en to learn more and submit your site for reconsideration.
Sincerely, Google Search Quality Team
Note: if you have an account in Google’s Webmaster Tools, you can verify the authenticity of this message by logging intohttps://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/siteoverview?hl=en and going to the Message Center.
Ends. I have since notified my sysadmin of the problem, but he cannot find these keywords anywhere on the site. There are apparently even ways to project these onto the site remotely to fool the search engines.
Debito.org has since been delisted from Google. I have of course notified Google of both the situation (i.e. we can’t find the text they’re talking about) and of our inability to fix the problem. I also expressed annoyance that, despite Google’s incredible reach throughout cyberspace, they are being irresponsible to say we have a problem, but not tell us on what page it’s on so we can fix it. It’s like saying that we failed a test, but teacher isn’t going to say what questions we got wrong, or what we can study next time for the makeup.
So we’re stuck, with thousands of other pages of information about how make a life in Japan (not on the blog) unsearchable. Damned unfair. And if Google keeps carrying on in this manner, a lot more places are going to be delisted unfairly; other bloggers beware.
Advice from cyberspace appreciated. Arudou Debito in Sapporo