New first stop for hacked site recovery

Webmaster Level: All

We certainly hope you never have to use our new Help for hacked sites informational series. It's a dozen articles and over an hour of videos dedicated to helping webmasters in the unfortunate event that their site is compromised.

Overview: How and why sites are hacked

If you have further interest in why cybercriminals hack sites for spammy purposes, see Tiffany Oberoi’s explanation in Step 5: Assess the damage (hacked with spam).

Tiffany Oberoi, a Webspam engineer, shares more information about sites hacked with spam

And if you’re curious about malware, Lucas Ballard from our Safe Browsing team, explains more about the topic in Step 5: Assess the damage (hacked with malware).

Lucas Ballard, a Safe Browsing engineer, and I pretend to have a totally natural conversation about malware

While we attempt to outline the necessary steps in recovery, each task remains fairly difficult for site owners unless they have advanced knowledge of system administrator commands and experience with source code. For helping fellow webmasters through the difficult recovery time, we'd like to thank the steady members in Webmaster Forum. Specifically, in the subforum Malware and hacked sites, we'd be remiss not to mention the amazing contributions of Redleg and Denis Sinegubko.

How to avoid ever needing Help for hacked sites
Just as you focus on making a site that's good for users and search-engine friendly, keeping your site secure -- for you and your visitors -- is also paramount. When site owners fail to keep their site secure, hackers may exploit the vulnerability. If a hacker exploits a vulnerability, then you might need Help for hacked sites. So, to potentially avoid this scenario:
  • Be vigilant about keeping software updated
  • Understand the security practices of all applications, plugins, third-party software, etc., before you install them on your server. A security vulnerability in one software application can affect the safety of your entire site
  • Remove unnecessary or unused software
  • Enforce creation of strong passwords
  • Keep all devices used to log in to your servers secure (updated operating system and browser)
  • Make regular, automated backups of your site
Help for hacked sites can be found at We look forward to not seeing you there!

The Year in Review

Welcome to 2007! The webmaster central team is very excited about our plans for this year, but we thought we'd take a moment to reflect on 2006. We had a great year building communication with you, the webmaster community, and creating tools based on your feedback. Many on the team were able to come out to conferences and met some of you in person, and we're looking forward to meeting many more of you in 2007. We've also had great conversations and gotten valuable feedback in our discussion forum, and we hope this blog has been helpful in providing information to you.

We said goodbye to the Sitemaps blog and launched this broader blog in August. And after doing so, our number of unique monthly visitors more than doubled. Thanks! We got much of our non-Google traffic from other webmaster community blogs and forums, such as the Search Engine Watch blog, Google Blogoscoped, and WebmasterWorld. In December, and the new were our biggest non-Google referrers. And social networking sites such as, reddit,com,, and sent webmaster tools many of our visitors, and a blog by somebody named Matt Cutts sent a lot of referrers our way as well. And these are the top Google queries that visitors clicked on:

Our most popular post was about the Googlebot activity reports and crawl rate control that we launched in October, followed by details about how to authenticate Googlebot. We have only slightly more Firefox users (46.28%) than Internet Explorer users (46.25%). 89% of you use Windows. After English, our readers most commonly speak French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. And after the United States, our readers primarily come from the UK, Canada, Germany, and France.

Here's some of what we did last year.

We expanded into Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, and Finnish.
You could hear Matt on webmaster radio.

We lauched several new features, including:
  • robots.txt analysis tool
  • page with the highest PageRank by month
  • common words in your site's content and in anchor text to your site
We met many of you at the Google Sitemaps lunch at SES NY.
You could hear me on webmaster radio.

We launched a few more features, including:
  • showing the top position of your site for your top queries
  • top mobile queries
  • download options for Sitemaps data, stats, and errors

We got a whole new look and added yet more features, such as:
  • meta tag verification
  • notification of violations to the webmaster guidelines
  • reinclusion request form and spam reporting form
  • indexing information (can we crawl your home page? is your site indexed?)
We also added a comprehensive webmaster help center and expanded the webmaster guidelines from 10 languages to 18.
We met more of you at the Google Sitemaps lunch at Boston Pubcon.
Matt talked about the new caching proxy.
We talked to many of you at SES Toronto.

Matt introduced you to our new search evangelist, Adam Lasnik.
We hung out with some of you in our hometown at Search Engine Watch Live Seattle and over at SES London.


We launched user surveys, to learn more about how you interact with webmaster tools.
We expanded some of our features, such as:
  • increased the number of crawl errors shown to 100% within the last two weeks
  • Increased the number of Sitemaps you can submit from 200 to 500
  • Expanded query stats so you can see them per property and per country and made them available for subdirectories
  • Increased the number of common words in your site and in links to your site from 20 to 75
  • Added Adsbot-Google to the robots.txt analysis tool
Yahoo! Stores incorporated Sitemaps for their merchants.

We expanded into Polish.
We began supporting the <meta name="robots" content="noodpt"> tag to allow you to opt out of using Open Directory titles and descriptions for your site in the search results.
We had a great time talking to many of you about international issues at SES Latino in Miami.

August was an exciting month for us, as we launched webmaster central! As part of that, we renamed Google Sitemaps to webmaster tools, expanded our Google Group to include all types of webmaster topics, and expanded the help content in our webmaster help center. We also launched some new features, including:
  • Preferred domain control
  • Site verification management
  • Downloads of query stats for all subfolders
In addition, I took over the GoodKarma podcast on webmasterradio for two shows (one all about Buffy the Vampire Slayer!) and we met even more of you at the Google Webmaster Central lunch at SES San Jose.

We improved reporting of the cache date in search results.
We provided a way for you to authenticate Googlebot.
And we started updating query stats more often and for a shorter timeframe.

We launched several new features, such as:
  • Crawl rate control
  • Googlebot activity reports
  • Opting in to enhanced image search
  • Display of the number of URLs submitted via a Sitemap
And you could hear Matt being interviewed in a podcast.

We launched, for joint support of the Sitemaps protocol between us, Yahoo!, and Microsoft.
We also started notifying you if we flagged your site for badware and if you're an English news publisher included in Google News, we made News Sitemaps available to you.
Partied with lots of you at "Safe Bets with Google" at Pubcon Las Vegas.
We introduced you to our new Sitemaps support engineer, Maile Ohye, and our first webmaster trends analyst, Jonathan Simon.

We met even more of you at the webmaster central lunch at SES Chicago.

Thanks for spending the year with us. We look forward to even more collaboration and communication in the coming year.