Google Error

Maybe you’ve seen this Google error if you’ve used automated ranking software programs like WebCEO or Webposition. Google doesn’t like it when webmasters use automated software that gobbles up bandwidth as overtly indicated in the Google Webmaster Guidelines:

Don’t use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google.

The amazing thing is that I received this error while browsing my sites while logged into Google Sitemaps.

Google Error indicating a virus or spyware

I have no problem with Google blocking automated queries. However, the message doesn’t seem in step with high expectations users place on Google as a purveyor of accurate information. I think Google is above trying to scare someone into not using an automated query program. Don’t you?

Update: June 10th, 2010 – Here’s the latest version of the error. Believe it or not, there is no Captcha! So, the user cannot complete their search query.

Google Error Updated

Emory Rowland

Emory Rowland is editor and keeper of the flame at Clickfire. He's a fanatical blogger, entrepreneur and builder of Internet things from way back. Emory's love for social media and success with organic search led him to start a SEO consulting venture. Apart from the Internet, he could be considered by many as pretty worthless. More...

86 comments

  1. Emory Rowland

    Interesting to see that Google has apparently changed the error from

    “A company virus or spyware application is sending us automated requests, and it appears that your computer or network has been infected”

    to the less alarming

    “your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application…”

  2. We have the same problem its really bad if we want to check our ranking in Google, because we cannot get in.

    I noticed that Google does this on purpose, to not give access to automatic ranking checkers, at the moment
    Google error’s are still in a test phase and cannot tell the difference between Human or automatic search engine ranking software events.

  3. CMCPaul

    Emory –
    One of my customers is receiving the same message. All his machines are virus, adware and automated-software free. Any way to get unblocked?
    Thanks,
    – Paul

  4. Emory Rowland

    Paul, in every case I’ve experienced, the error message has been temporary, lasting about 30 to 60 minutes, then going away. I don’t know how to stop it from ocurring when manually clicking. I suspect that Google will eventually fine tune it to better distinguish automated requests from human.

  5. We got the same problem with Yahoo, and wrote a letter to Yahoo and this is their answer:

    Hello,

    Thank you for contacting Yahoo! Customer Care.

    We’re sorry you’ve had difficulty accessing Yahoo!. The error you
    received is typically caused by unusual activity from either your
    computer or your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to Yahoo!. While this
    type of problem is usually temporary, if you continue to experience this
    error, we recommend that you try the following suggestions:

    1) Contact your ISP and let them know you are experiencing connectivity
    problems with Yahoo!. You may have difficulty accessing Yahoo! if we
    detect unusual network traffic coming from your ISP. Only your ISP will
    be able to address and resolve this abnormal activity.

    2) Check that you are not using any third party software program or
    application to access Yahoo! services. Please keep in mind that these
    types of programs are not supported by Yahoo! and may violate our Terms
    of Service, and therefore may contribute to your receiving this error.

    3) If you have not scanned your computer for spyware and viruses, please
    do so now. Some spyware programs and computer viruses will run separate
    programs on your computer for a variety of purposes, sometimes slowing
    your computer down in the process, and even preventing you from
    accessing certain Internet sites such as Yahoo!.

    For detailed information on virus protection, please visit:

    http://security.yahoo.com/malware.html

    For detailed information on spyware, please visit:

    http://security.yahoo.com/spyware.html

    4) You may want to try accessing Yahoo! through a different computer or
    through a different Internet connection.

    We hope this is resolved for you soon so that you may continue to use
    Yahoo!.

    Regards,

    Yahoo! Customer Care

    For assistance with all Yahoo! services please visit:

    http://help.yahoo.com/

    I hope this cleared all your questions about the search engine error’s, Google and Yahoo work pretty the same way.

  6. Rita

    I have same problem, arbitarily, and its kind of coinciding with my objection to google letting the chinese government dictate to it. Problem is i know nothing other than google, and other search engines i use in my field (law,legislation,environment,compliance,south africa) just dont seem to give me what google does :( … any suggestions?

  7. Paras Tolani

    This error has become very common.
    even when you search from their main homepage, it still says the same error. very annoying.

  8. Prodigy

    I have been getting the same error over and over again but I have found a way to bypass it which I don’t know if this is a bug in google or they have done it on purpose but anyhow here’s what you can do :

    lets say for example you search for something and the error message appears telling you that you might have Spy-ware or Virus if you look at the address in the address bar of your browser it should be something like this:

    http://www.google.com/sorry/?continue=http://www.google.com/search%

    If you delete the http://www.google.com/sorry/?continue= part from the address and then press enter you will get your search result …

    I should remind you that I’m using Firefox and I get this error a lot when I use the integrated Google search bar from the small Search Engine Box embedded in firefox.

  9. Galeforcewind

    I’ve been getting this message from added content on my personalized google homepage, not when searching for results. It really sucks. I use firefox mainly as well, and it occured to me it might be a firefox thing, so I checked IE. I still get the error regularly, from websites like wikipedia and nasa.

  10. Anna

    I’ve been getting this too just like Galeforcewind has. There’s a timed refresh on the personalized google homepage, and every once-in-a-while when it tries to refresh I get the message. I’m not even clicking anything. I am using Firefox as well.

  11. gvs

    hi all

    I am not into any kinda comp hacking or what ever..and ONLY from ONE innocent machine i get this google-error. It also asks me to input a string [ given in image] to continue and when I do it works fine.
    I can access my gmail account, serach anything and everything but i simply cannot go to my google homepage. But when I enter that word string [ given as image] then I can enter my homepage site.

    and this happens with only one machine and not on anyother machine [ under the same network ! ].
    Also this has been happening from last 2-3 days !

    any solutions ?
    gvs

  12. rob h

    I get this error (“your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application…”) when I go to Google preferences and try to set it to give more than 10 results.
    It says it’s made the change, tries to revert back to Google search page, then I see the error. I’m using Firefox 1.0.5.6 with 4 or 5 developer plugins. I can change other preferences OK, it seems to be specific to the number of results parameter.

    Also the problem is specific to google.com, when I switch to google.co.uk I can change the number of results.
    Viewing at the google PREF cookie for the .com and the .co.uk the .com one isn’t getting changed.

    Works OK on the same PC with MSIE6.

  13. rob h

    Ahhh I’ve found out more. The search I had been doing was using allinurl: when I decided I wanted to see more than 10 results. Having changed the results parameter Google was retrying that search and got suspicious because some automated SEO tools will behave like that.

    By doing a different search (not using allinurl:) on Google.com then changing the results parameter everything worked as expected and I was then able to do my allinurl: search and get 100 results too!

  14. Lulu

    I get this message when my browser starts up for the first time. Google is my home page, so I am getting this without even entering a search request. And, I get it through both my company’s internet, and my personal, home, internet. I have McAfee running at home, but my company has Symantec and all sorts of firewalls and security patches. Very strange…

  15. fraujansen

    yes…. maybe it’s the time for ALL of us to try (again) the old ones… yahoo, altavista and the little ones.
    we cannot give google more power! ;)

  16. I have the same problem when trying to use Google to translate my website

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  18. Emory Rowland

    Here’s another version I got today when using the “site” operator:

    We’re sorry…

    … but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. To protect our users, we can’t process your request right now.

    We’ll restore your access as quickly as possible, so try again soon. In the meantime, if you suspect that your computer or network has been infected, you might want to run a virus checker or spyware remover to make sure that your systems are free of viruses and other spurious software.

    We apologize for the inconvenience, and hope we’ll see you again on Google.

  19. I get the same error message as Emory except I’m not even using Google. I’m only clicking on a translation icon on my website when I get the 403 Google error message. How is it that Google can block the operation of my website???

  20. Carla Venezia

    I had this same problem a month ago, and found a way to bypass the error by using a website that was developed just for this problem by accessing google’s translator separately. Unfortunately, I can’t find the link for it, but the site’s name rhymed with google. I thought it was scroogle.org, but that’s a different bypass!. If anyone wants to take the time to find the other and does, please post it here!

  21. Carla Venezia

    OK, found a way to bypass the error message rec’d when using Google language tools.
    Go to: proxydom.com
    Free Anonymous Surfing of google translator

  22. I got the same error while using posting a comment on a website.

    First these idiots started showing me image verification every time I posted on my blog. I thought that it might be the regular thing, and might happen with every blog. But today I read that it said my blog was a spam blog. What crap!!!

    So I sent them a mail saying that my blog wasn’t a spam blog and then this happened. Now I can’t access anything Google.

    Now I’m definitely moving to wordpress. Who know if Google says that this error message is beta too.

  23. Shawn

    I need help. I have scanned my computer over and over with latest in virus , firewall and spy ware protection. it runs perfectly. Except often as in 1 in every 8 – 12 searches on Google I get a google error while I am typing my search, not after I I type and click the search button but immediately in the middle of my typing the subject I want to search!!! this is the error….

    The big Google logo on the top right with a blue bar next to it extended across the page with the word error scripted into it. below that, it says NOT FOUND in plain text and then in another text below that it says… The requested URL /undefined was not found on this server. What the heck is this ? on plain ordinary searches in which when I try again immediately, it works. This is super annoying!

  24. Emory Rowland

    Shawn, it sounds like a classic 404 error, just not sure why you’re getting it.

  25. xerox

    hi
    whats this google is trying to do now. i thought it was number one search engine. easy and reliable.
    i dont know wat i did too i didnt do anything today just scanned my computer and tried to use google.(i use firefox) but it keeps saying google error….all the time. now i dont know how many more times i have scanned and its still there.
    im not even much of a net user only whn necessary i search for informaton and now this happened.

    will it help if i install windows again????
    cox yea this is more than annoying!

  26. Emory Rowland

    xerox, my guess is re-installing windows won’t be the solution.

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  28. DW

    Google is doing it to me right now after adding about 1000 keywords (within in a few seconds) to my AdWords campaign. I enabled a proxy and was able to get through… but after adding 1000 more I’m banned on that IP, too! Maybe they are also trying to stop automated keywords management? :( Google searching works fine but I can’t access my AdWords… 30-60 mins you say? :(

  29. Adam

    I don’t know what’s up, but I use IE7 + Google Toolbar, and when I click the “Google Button” on the toolbar, I get this “error” too, resulting in http://www.google.com/sorry/?continue=http://www.google.com/webhp%3Fsourceid%3Dnavclient%26ie%3DUTF-8

  30. Emory Rowland

    DW, that’s the first I’ve heard of this happening while adding keywords to AdWords.

  31. Doc Platypus

    This error happens way too often when submitting Google queries via Tor (tor.eff.org) for privacy reasons. When unable to tie a query to an IP address or a permanent Google cookie (obviously, I decline Google’s cookies) the information is reduced to what I searched for, as opposed to “the user with this cookie at this IP address searched for these things.”

    (Note that Scroogle does the same thing, but is much more limiting. I only use it as a last resort).

  32. AmphetaMarinE

    I was getting this error in firefox whenever I tried to set preferences to give more than 10 search results.
    I have resolved it by opening the privacy tab in firefox’s options, and going to the “show cookies” button.
    In the next box, I found “google.com” & “google.com.au” and hit the delete selected cookies button.
    After this, I signed back in to my google.com/ig page (Personalized google home page) and all has been working fine since…
    Possibly google changed how their cookies work and wasn’t removing old ones??
    (I tried this as I remember some time ago, there was a few different exploits around where people would somehow use modified cookies to access certain sites where they would not normally be able to…)

  33. adryan3000

    do not use FireFox or any other, use IE to register !

  34. iliyas

    Here is good info but i want to know how it is resolved. How can i remove this error from google page.. pls provide me help soon
    thanks

  35. MackMcRae

    This started happening to me during simple searches on google after I changed to using an open DNS server.

  36. Muhammed

    The same thing happenes to me when I search for how many pages google indexed of my site. And the query all the same like : empty1.html , empty2.html ,empty3.html , empty4.html

    Those same queries caused me to get this error. And I am trying to save from these urls.

    I wish you best luck

    Thanks for the info

  37. Adrian

    Just today I started to get this error alot (probably about 1 in 3 searches) for almost anything I search for from the google home page.

    Even a search for “hydrofluoric acid MSDS” gave the error… all those scientific web bots must be making too many search requests about toxic chemicals… on my computer… while I’m not watching… (I’m a experienced computer user and know I have no spyware etc of any kind.)

    *sigh*

    Competition to find the stupidest search it gives the error for, anyone?

  38. Guys,

    On the IE, make sure the Active X and Active scripting is enabled.

    I would suggest to set Active X to “Prompt” and Active Script to “Enable”.

    I had the same problem and this change helped.

  39. marius

    What about firefox? i couldn’t find anything about Active X in the options window.

  40. Emory Rowland

    Here’s an apparent new version of the google error I just received:

    We’re sorry…

    … but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. To protect our users, we can’t process your request right now.

    We’ll restore your access as quickly as possible, so try again soon. In the meantime, if you suspect that your computer or network has been infected, you might want to run a virus checker or spyware remover to make sure that your systems are free of viruses and other spurious software.

    If you’re continually receiving this error, you may be able to resolve the problem by deleting your Google cookie and revisiting Google. For browser-specific instructions, please consult your browser’s online support center.

    We apologize for the inconvenience, and hope we’ll see you again on Google.

  41. Yabba

    31/1/08
    Not sure if this was in your google message or to “errorguy”.
    This is crazy. I have just started getting this message. Trouble is I can’t get my anti spyware updates and I only did it yesterday.
    I have been unable to carry over my very important passwords into firefox which renders it unusable to me, and lost a lot of capabilities I have in google. Also my website is not publishing new files. I have been down this road with fixing firefox but beyond my capabilities.
    I have emptied cookie and all temp files and cleaned up all i can.

    Has anyone had any official response from Google about this long standing error?

  42. Emory Rowland

    Yabba, I haven’t seen an official explanation but based on all the activity we’ve seen here surrounding the error, I’d say there is a definite need for it.

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  44. Lea

    I just started getting this message today when I try to log into my blog, or click any comments on my blog (I can’t log in).

    I am on a (very old) Mac, using firefox. Deleted all google cookies, but it is not helping. And this just after I decided to use my blog as my main website!!! Good thing I didn’t get rid of the old one yet.

    What can I do?!? So frustrating, and IE doesn’t work well on my computer.

  45. JH

    It’s a real pain when trying to use software such as Webposition to check keyword rankings, anyone got any suggestions?

  46. Kris

    Haha, IE doesn’t work well on my computer…? IE doesn’t work well on any computer.. rofl

  47. RR

    IE works fine except for people who rofl

  48. Pathetic message. It doesn’t even allow me to prove that I am not a virus

  49. Imran

    hey guys

    all we have the same problem, but does any one has solution for it ?

    Imran

  50. Supamafiosi

    So after reading all of the above, does anyone have a proven solution for this issue?

  51. Rishabh

    I have seen a lot of those errors on my site, from then and there I have stopped using automated softwares..

  52. S.Jaafar Ahmed

    I’ve had this same issue.
    Disabling “PageRank” option in the search status firefox extension seems to resolve it.

  53. Aristocrat

    “the search status firefox extension”? What and where is it?

  54. Emory Rowland

    Aristocrat, it’s a third party firefox extension. I think S.Jaafar is assuming you already have it installed. I made a blog post about it a while back here: http://blog.clickfire.com/search-status/

  55. Argim

    I was using the MAGPIE RSS PARSER to get Google News from their RSS, and after they moved my site to a different server, the scripts is finding the error:

    “We’re sorry…
    … but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. To protect our users, we can’t process your request right now.”

    Is there some sort of blacklist of IP in action here? How can be possible that THE SAME SCRIPT works on one server and DOES NOT WORK on another server?

    Any help will be greatly appreciated, I already blamed my hosting company for this issue.

  56. Emory Rowland

    Argim, Perhaps you could decrease the frequency of requests to Google News within the MagPie script configuration? I have a feeling that would do the trick.

  57. Mike

    I believe that another program besides google is causing this. The font in the corner of the screen is different that google’s actual font. It might be a virus on my computer that is hacking into google.

  58. Zip

    This might not fix, but it gets rid of the annoying message.

    Try this address http://www.google.com/webhp

    hope this helps

  59. deep purple

    hey zip mate, thnx a lot! as soon as i tried that adress google came up without the stupid error. and then i went to google.com and the error still doesn’t show. thnx once again.

  60. greenie

    I recommend you use a different search ( for example, Yahoo)

  61. ptc bux

    i am human :) but i see google feeding up this warning at least 10 times in a day. i it is not fair.

  62. Holly Mathews

    Several of us here at Illinois Valley Community College are getting this same message when doing ordinary searches on Google, it even happens when I am logged in to my gmail account. I get my results if I fill in the required letters, but it is an extra step. I have virus and spyware updated and don’t use automated anything. It has been happening for two days now.

  63. Holly Mathews

    I just tried a search using IE, got the same error message.

  64. Google is going mad because of virus type of activities and thinking microsoft is behind them…. :-)

  65. shahram

    If it blocks Automated queries,no problem
    But I saw this message more than 10 times today with my manual search!

  66. i think there is more than just bots and spyware.
    check this blog entry busini.wordpress.com

  67. Hi all,

    if this strange error message at google.com happens while searching with the firefox Googlebar try to delete all cookies in Firefox that belongs to google.com.

    This will enable you to use your search within firefox again.

    Hope it helps you arround this enoying error

    greetings, voss

  68. ann hellmuth

    I keep getting this message when I try to log into my Google Documents. How can I fix this.

  69. Tyrell66
  70. HikingStick

    I was trying to establish a second Google account this morning, so I signed out and then went to create a new account using a different eddress. I typed in all of the requested information, clicked to confirm that I accepted the Terms of Service, and entered the captcha. That’s when I received the error. I wonder if it’s because I’m trying to register with a Hotmail eddress. I’m going to delete my Google cookies and try again.

  71. John

    Even Scroogle.org doesn’t help any more. After I’d running a program that polled Scroogle at one query every 5 seconds, Scroogle.org banned my IP address. I can’t even ping scroogle.org any more. A traceroute shows that the ping gets to the node just before the actual server, but the actual server ignores it. Has anyone else seen this?

    I wanted to use Scroogle because 1) they don’t have terms of service that prohibit scraping, and 2) they seem to have come to some agreement with Google on that issue. That seemed to be the proper way to run tests against Google Search.

    I’ve tried mailing the contact address at Scroogle; I’m willing to pay them. But so far, no answer.

  72. John

    Does anyone have a contact phone for Scroogle?

  73. Swapnil

    … but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. To protect our users, we can’t process your request right now.

    We’ll restore your access as quickly as possible, so try again soon. In the meantime, if you suspect that your computer or network has been infected, you might want to run a virus checker or spyware remover to make sure that your systems are free of viruses and other spurious software.

    We apologize for the inconvenience, and hope we’ll see you again on Google.

    I get this message when i try to log on to orkut

  74. Swapnil

    Its an Google Error please help me restore my profile

  75. Gordon

    I have started using bing and it does not stop me the way Google does saying: Prove you are a Human or something so until they stop I will just use bing and it seems to be a better system. I am really thinking Google is forcing people over to it.

  76. why would google block automated rank checkers? logic follows that u track your pages2make amendments to have more appropriate info to increase ranking, so by allowing auto trackers, they will result in better searh results? i use one for fireplacesupermarket.com, as its quite new, getting my head around the data thats needed (what people want to see), knowing my ranking is the only way i can improve my service,which benefits goole and the user. I cannot see a way it could be abuse to adversley affect google?

  77. Calvin

    You can simply renew your IP address in command prompt if you have a problem searching manually. I have had this problem too. Google tracks your IP while you’re performing your searches. So by resetting it you “renew” your online identity. I have a post on my blog with the nitty-gritty: blog.calvinjsmith.com/posts/bypass-google-blocked-searches/

  78. Emory Rowland

    A new error message has appeared. Anyone seeing this?

    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.

  79. Irina Shamaeva

    I think it’s a pretty serious issue. I love advanced Google search capabilities, use them in my sourcing and recruiting business as well as teach others how to leverage the service in various blog posts and webinars.

    However, lately my colleagues and I have been repeatedly blocked by Google search with the message that we are sending “automated queries”. No, I am not sending automated queries; I can’t even type very fast.

    All I do is use search operators (intitle:, inurl:), asterisk (*), and set the number of results to 100 per page; so why is that suspicious? A friend, who does advanced searches, tells us that he blocks all of his office. Attendees of my webinars can’t reproduce the search string examples that we study without being blocked. Google starts off with a few requests to enter “captchas” and then blocks us completely.
    I received a pretty bizarre email from a Google Developer… read the rest (and please comment) here:

    Read more: http://technorati.com/blogging/article/dear-google-i-am-human

  80. hareesh

    I got one “google internal error” while using google talk.
    Help me to solve this problem.

  81. dewey

    google chrome will not load. it says error 10.ive deleted chrome and reinstalled it but it still doesnt load.what is going on with chrome?

  82. Remi Digital Marketer

    Do you have a tool to identify which unusual queries we are sending to google ?

    • Emory Rowland

      You might want to look at some of the network capture tools like Fiddler.

  83. Emory Rowland

    Here’s one that I got today when I tried to Plus One a post on forbes.com:

    414. That's an error. ...is too large to process. That's all we know.

  84. iryairya

    emory, i get the error message…”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.” how is this possible? i’m using google for browsing, but now i’ll switch to yahoo until this problem resolved…I need help here

    • Emory Rowland

      iryairya, it might be that you are sending too many queries to fast so Google thinks you’re automating it.

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