Social Engineering Content Detected – What?!?!
Getting an email from Google saying “Social Engineering Content Detected” and that my new tech site would be marked as being hacked until I fixed the issues caused my heart to raise and my blood pressure to soar (I’m sure). I’d only just started this blog, and I already had problems?
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The irony of having a tech issue on my tech blog wasn’t lost on me.
Even still, let me be the first to assure you that even if you know much about technology, it’s near impossible to know everything. I’d sure never seen this error before.
I’ve run my faith blog for over two years, and ‘social engineering content detected’ caught me by surprise. However, I took a deep breath and did a little reading and research and my initial panic went away. If you get this email from Google, you don’t need to panic either!
Here’s what my email looked like:
My next steps:
I clicked on View Examples in the email and signed into Search Console. Here’s what that looks like:
It’s scary to see “Harmful Content” attached to your blog. However, I did some quick research and found these two articles very helpful – New Social Engineering Content Detected Warning in Google Search Console and Social Engineering Content Detected on Your Site: How to Fix It.
Not long ago, Google began a Safe Browsing program. If a site has deceptive advertising which can confuse site readers, then the site can be flagged. A deceptive ad might make it look like the reader should click on it to download something pertaining to the blog post. Sometimes with ad networks, it’s hard to figure out which ads they might be. However, I had JUST the night before added my very first Google AdSense ad in the middle of my posts and sure enough, it looked just like the descriptions of what a deceptive ad could be.
See how it says Start Template Download? I inserted my ad code for the middle of the post, so this was nestled right in between my content and not too far from my real opt-in request. A reader could easily be deceived and click on that ad thinking they were getting my opt-in download.
So how did I fix it?
Immediately, I went in and completely removed the ad code. Eventually, I’ll need to check with my ad network (which was Google AdSense for this particular ad) and figure out a plan. AdSense, like with most ad networks, gives us the opportunity to block certain types of ads, and so I will look into that. My first goal here was to get those warnings off my site. While they’re on there, Google knocks a blog’s search ranking.
After removing the code, I went back to my Google Webmaster Tools Search Console:
I clicked on the checkbox next to ‘I have fixed these issues’ and then clicked Request a Review. After that, a window popped up that asked me to tell how I addressed the specific issues. I filled that box in and then clicked the blue Request a Review button.
My review failed the first time. I ended up running a premium WordFence scan and found no issues. I contacted my host, SiteGround. They ran a scan and found no malware or other issues. I had to wait several hours (I tried right away but got a message that I could request a review again so quickly) and then requested another review. I made sure to explain in even more detail what all I did to fix the error. This time…
UPDATE 2 (and 3):
Well, my review failed a 2nd time. However, my new email sent me to a page that showed me a specific URL the Google bots didn’t like. Maybe that was in my first email, and I missed it? It’s possible. Anyway, I couldn’t find anything wrong with that URL and had Grayson Bell, from iMark Interactive look it over. Grayson belongs to a blogging group I’m a member of and jumps in to help other bloggers so often. He’s amazing and has answered questions for me numerous times! He didn’t see what might be wrong with that page once I removed the deceptive ad either, and he mentioned that social engineering content detected errors are often the most difficult to track down. Bleh. Dumb errors, right? But, I know it’s Google just wanting what’s best for its readers, so… I guess that’s okay.
Rather than spend too much time trying to fix it, I just deleted it. Completely. Sure, I want my post, but more importantly, I want Google happy with me. Maybe someday, I’ll go in and rewrite, reformat, and try again. For now, I’m happy that my recent review request has been approved and Google no longer hates me. Hope that lasts!