Boy this is frightening. Yesterday Google Blogoscoped reported about the Google Custom Search blog being hacked. After this was discovered, Google sent an update to Philipp Lenssen (who runs Google Blogoscoped) that said the following:
Whoops! We accidentally classified ourselves as spam, and our ever-perceptive Blogger settings caught us. The Custom Search Blog has since been restored, and we're taking steps to ensure this doesn't happen with other Google blogs in the future. Other Blogger users can make sure this doesn't happen to them by reporting any problems to the Blogger support team via the Blogger Help Center at http://www.blogger.com/problem.g. We can then investigate.
It's frightening because it shows you how fragile Spam detection algorithms are. How could this happen that the blog was accidentally flagged as spam? The people working on this blog work at Google! I am willing to stipulate that they were not deliberately trying to game Blogger in any fashion, or for that matter the Google search engine.
As someone that focuses a lot of energy on building web site traffic by organic means, and as a blogger, I have to admit that I am very concerned about this. It's a real eye opener. Like many of you, I have read the various forums out there filled with people complaining about how they have been mistreated by Google's search engine.
They complain about how they have a great site, and have been banned from the index, or hit by some algorithmic penalty. I have also helped such sites emerge from such penalties, and get a fresh new lease on life. I always feel bad for these people because it's a crummy feeling to hvae your investment get flushed down the toilet.
However, nearly all the time when I get the chance to look more closely at the situation there appear to be reasons why the problem could be happening. Up until now, I had hoped that it was possible to have a gold standard approach that was immune to the risk of such things. I guess I was wrong. If Blogger can flag a product of Google as spam, then there are few places that are truly safe.
I would really like to see a statement from Google as to why the Google Custom Search blog was classified as spam in the first place. If I hear anything I will update this post with that info.