A short while back a colleague had told me how he got locked out of performing basic searches in Google. His blocking lasted about 4 hours, and he felt his only crime was searching Google too fast. When he told me I must admit I was a little mystified and bemused. It then started happening all over our network and the feeling soon went to one of frustration when the following message appeared instead of search results:
The following page is what you see when your receive the Automated Query Error -
We’re sorry… … but your computer or network may be sending automated queries. To protect our users, we can’t process your request right now. See Google Help for more information.
Note that Google copyright is 2009 which leaves one somewhat concerned as to whether there will be any current help resource etc.
Clicking a link you are then directed to a page http://support.google.com/websearch/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=86640&rd=1 that claims it has found unusual traffic from your computer network. It then provides troubleshooting tips. It advises checking for Malware using HiJack this. I have to admit at this point the frustration level was increasing and beginning to get the better of me. A quick walk outside for some fresh air soon restores my inner-calm. Okay let’s tackle the problem using their suggestions. We resort to using Microsoft’s Bing to search for some answers to our now pressing and immediate problem.
One of our pet hates is Malware and as a result we are fairly diligent about what is on our computers and server. We run a tight ship and constantly check for viruses and malware that may infect our computer network, checking with high grade root cleaning tools etc. We would be surprised if anything got past us – but, it does occasionally happen – it was not that long ago we got caught by the dreaded Babylon search tool that pretty much buried itself into all of our browsers. Removing it takes some superhuman effort and a lot of patience. However, it only served to make us even more vigilant. Still we followed Google’s advice and ran the enumerating app HiJack-This – a free program that allows you to view programs installed on your computer and easily remove malicious items.
Google then suggest after using HiJack-This that the user should update and run the three following programs as the use of Hijack This, this often exposes other issues:
I feel what we use on our systems is probably a lot more effective than what Google is recommending but to give benefit of the doubt and to be completely sure we covered every base, and downloaded their (Google’s) recommendations.
Note: In this time one of our computers started displaying Google results again, however, this is not due to efforts run on the other computer with Google’s suggestions. That computer was simply switched off for a while which then changed the IP address.
Starting with LavaSoft’s Ad Aware, I went through the motions of the installation process and ran the application. It scanned the root kit and came back with a clean bill of health – so far so good and all together 3 hours of time wasted.
Next up was SpyBot Search and Destroy – my computer was beginning to resemble one of those paranoid PC’s that have tons of anti-spyware programs (because some forum told them to do so) all conflicting with each other and bringing in more issues. Nevertheless I installed SpyBot and let it ‘do it’s thing’ on my machine.
SpyBot did find some old adware cookies that it cleaned up for me but nothing that was sending out automated queries and searches to Google.
My next port of call was to clean all Google cookies from Firefox, Chrome, IE, Safari, and Opera – reboot and still nothing.
The problem was still there as I suspected it would be. After a little research I was happy to see I was not being singled out and there were many cases of this. However, I don’t think it was because of what a colleague suspected insomuch we were ‘searching too fast’ It was something else – however, it did appear that when running a fast search from our network it somehow alerted Google and we would receive a annoying Captcha Code from Google that you have to type in to continue using its search engine. Believe me, when you’re running a business that is centred around the World Wide Web, it becomes infuriating having to continuously be hounded by the Captcha code.
Google says if the problem persists then your network administrator should contact us. They provide a link for additional information. Once there you fill out your name, email address, country, IP address, number of users affected, and date Google started blocking. Now you cannot submit that address if you do not submit your IP! It provides a pop-up window that goes to WhatsmyIP.org and lets you retrieve your IP address results.
I then submitted the requested information. It should be noted here that in Google’s drop down, for how many users affected it only gives you the following:
- Single user
- 100+ users
- 1000+ Users
Missing was lower number such as 1 – 10. (We are only 6) Just before I submitted the info I notice Google search engine started working for me again.
Getting blocked from using Google’s search results can be clearly disastrous if you’re running a company whose primary focus is SEO, PPC, and web design – I was keen to prevent this issue from occurring again. We felt that the PPC and SEO reporting software could possibly be the cause of this issue. It runs a lot of queries repeatedly in Google which may have given the impression of an overtly aggressive ‘search bot.’
We thought the answer was maybe to lower the amount of times it was searching and for a while this actually worked – until the problem reappeared again.
Well, your frustrations are over – if you just use parallel private proxy servers you’ll be able to continue with the task at hand without interruption. You’ll require multiple proxy servers enabling any automated software to run multiple reports at the same time, jumping from one IP address to another to avoid the dreaded block and even if one of your IP’s becomes jammed, the automated software will bounce to the next IP address and continue the task until it is completed in its entirety.
Obviously it depends how often you run reports as to how many private proxy servers you’ll require – for those working with SEO software we suggest starting with 10 and see how it goes. It’s possible to buy public and private proxy servers but if you go for the public option you’ll be sharing those IP addresses with others, thereby increasing your risk of being blocked early on. Pay the extra and go for your own private proxy servers is our recommendation. If an individual IP address becomes blocked many proxy server suppliers will replace that address with a new one. Also running your software via a VPS will help increase the speed at which reports can run.
We were recommended to Corgitech and worked with one of their team, Junaid, who was extremely helpful in answering any questions we had regarding VPS. For Proxy servers we chose Trusted Proxy’s (www.trustedproxies.com) who specialise in proxies for SEO agencies and are highly regarded. Again, their team are highly efficient and are responsive to any questions, as well as having great online support.
Hopefully this has given a little more clarity to this Google Block issue and now you’ll be on your way to stress-free searches for whatever purpose you desire!
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