Being blacklisted by Google is not a rare occurrence – recently, the company blacklisted over 11,000 websites during the outbreak of SoakSoak malware, which attacked WordPress sites using a popular plugin. Whether it’s hack attacks, malware problems, or other security issues, Google is quick to shut down any potential problems with its blacklist.
This can pose many problems for hosting providers! Customers may not always understand how or why they have been blacklisted by Google, even though it regularly does this to hundreds of sites every day. Your customers may be quick to blame, and that blame could fall on you. It is probably not your fault that the customer’s site has been blacklisted, but your customer will be looking to you for solutions. To provide good service, and be as helpful as possible, you should work to assist your customer in dealing with a Google blacklist problem.
The best thing you can do is get started rehabilitating the site and getting it removed from the blacklist, as soon as possible. This could take hours, or weeks, depending on how bad the damage is. Google itself will work to remove the site from the blacklist once it meets the right conditions, but that process can take at least 10 hours, ranging up to a whole day. This equals lost revenue for your client, and ill will all around.
To find out if your customer is actually blacklisted by Google, it is important to do some diagnostics first. You can use Google’s Webmaster Tools to find out if the site is on the list, or take a look at the Abusive Hosts Blocking List which can give some information about why the site may have been blacklisted. MX Toolbox and BlackListAlert.org can give out more information.
According to Google, once a site has been restored, services like Wget, cURL, or Fetch as Google will work to verify that the site is in good shape.
There are different ways to approach restoring the site based on this information. One of the quickest way to return things to normal is to restore from a clean back-up. A malware infection needs extra work, but if that isn’t the case for your client, a simple back-up restoration can do the trick. Make sure you offer back-up services as part of your hosting, so you can work to restore a site quickly for whatever reason is necessary.
There are a few options for back-ups. You can offer your clients a managed services approach, which puts the onus on you to have a plan. As a hosting provider you will offer protection against threats, damage mitigation, and account restoration. You will need to allocate your own resources, from hardware and software to security, to be successful with this approach, and it will come at a cost to your customer as a result. If you are working with large businesses who have room for managed services in their budget, this should not be a problem, as the ability to restore quickly and get off of the blacklist is certainly worth it to a company of this size!
Self-service back-ups are easier to handle for some customers, whether due to their budget, or their own robust IT skills and resources. You can assist your client with this by providing a cloud-based option so they can still have a back-up, but manage it on their own terms. This is a less expensive solution so it may prove to be quite popular with many clients, who will appreciate the lack of expense, the quick response time, and the level of control.
You may wish to offer additional support, available at an extra cost to clients who choose a self-serve option. This way, if they get in over their heads or simply need an extra hand, you can provide it without losing your own money and time.