Social Engineering Content – Google Issuing Warnings

Recently, some webmasters have been receiving warnings from Google that their sites contain “social engineering content“. The warning states that “pages on your site might be hacked or might include third party resources such as ads that are designed to trick users into installing malicious software or giving up sensitive information”, and that therefore visitors to the site will be informed of this concern. While any reputable site will understand the need to protect internet users from attempts to steal their details, the use of the term “social engineering” has caused some confusion among webmasters, who might mistakenly assume that it has something to do with social media, which is not the case. This issue is without a doubt something that has to be understood and dealt with, as it will negatively affect traffic to a site identified as containing problem content. When Google takes this action, the site will subsequently be downgraded in the search results, and browsers will display a warning. Therefore it is in the interests of the site to comply with Google’s request to take action, as visitors may decide not to visit the site again if they have doubts about security. The problem stems from sites carrying advertising which is designed to fool users into clicking it; for example, advertising masquerading as a download button could deceive people looking to download software or media into clicking on it. At best, they will get unwanted advertising pop up; at worst, the security of their computer could be compromised. So webmasters will need to have a careful look at the advertising their site carries. It may be difficult to identify all such offending advertising; examples of affected pages will be listed on the Security Issues page in their Google Search Console, but not all of them. However, it needs to be done in order for the site to be reinstated without the warning. Once webmasters have complied with Google’s request and removed the offending advertising, they can then ask to have their site reconsidered. A reconsideration request can be sent via the Search Console; look under manual actions.


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