Google zaps


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Hi Blog.  Some Blog Biz today.

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,

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: 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 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

In order to preserve the quality of our search engine, pages from 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 When such changes have been made, please visit 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 into 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. 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

12 comments on “Google zaps

  • Something tells me this has happened before a few times. There have been times at work I’ve searched on Google for “debito” and that would normally bring up but there are times when this is not listed and the first thing that comes up is Wikipedia. Anyways, Yahoo and Infoseek still lists this site but goo doesn’t.

    — Yes, this has happened before. But I was able to fix the problem then. I can’t now.

  • I assume this blog runs on wordpress. Did you keep the software updated. It is very important to do so including any plugins that you may have installed. While some wordpress updates include new/improved features nearly all of them include security updates.
    I had a similar problem before and I wasn’t able to fix it even though I eventually found that the malicious code had been inserted in my comments. I eventually had to remove the blog and restart which I realize is not really an option here. Good luck finding a solution. Ironically, searching google may yield some help.

  • Hi
    [copious advice about what’s wrong with the site and how to fix it]

    If you need some help I will gladly give it


    — Thanks very much for your advice! I’ve contacted you offlist.

  • For the past 4~6months until now, every time i have dropped by your site, i get a message from my antivirus/firewall blocker thingy telling me that your site is trying to open up one of my secure files….click yes or no to allow…..i wonder if they are referring to this??
    This occurs when i first go to the home page and then every link to a previous entry.

    — Gosh, this is the first time I’ve heard of this. Click “no”, of course! Will let my sysadmin know. Sorry for any and all trouble.

  • Can you search the code of the entire site files for the cloaked words? The site files in the directory, not a keyword search of the site online.

    — Thanks for the advice. I think my sysadmin has done that… will double-check.

  • [More good advice. Thanks for it!]

    Good luck. Cleaning up cracked htdocs isn’t much fun.

    — I’m very grateful for everyone for lending a hand like this. It’s very helpful and much appreciated! Debito

  • Good luck with solving the problems with your excellent site Debito! You don’t suppose that this is revenge from a certain nameless university vice president do you?!!

    — Nah. I doubt a person that idiotic is that Internet-savvy.

  • If none of the above works, I suggest you next set up a field of tachyon particles and see if any of the cloaked words happen to pass through.

    — I’ve had photon torpedoes loaded and ready for quite some time now.

  • Hi there, it looks like you’ve cleaned it up already, so I bet submitting a reconsideration request through your Webmaster Tools account will get things back in Google :-).

    FWIW, you can still see it in Yahoo’s cache at (if you’re curious about what it looked like)

    Anyway, I’m glad to see that it’s been resolved.

    — Thanks to all the help from people here, it’s fixed! Much obliged, everybody! Debito

  • So what did you determine to be the problem? Software that was not up to date?

    — That was it. And there was an even deeper problem which had kept me from updating it. All resolved now.


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