Everyone knows that tools that scrap and do automated queries are against Google's terms of service. In fact, Google has blocked tools in the past from doing them. But many many tools continue to do it.
Why? Well, Google ditched their search API years ago and they have really no other safe way to automate the process.
This morning, out of no where, Gary Illyes from Google issued the warning on Twitter:
Friendly reminder that sending automated queries to search engines are generally against their Terms of Service.— Gary Illyes ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ (@methode) December 14, 2016
An hour later, John Mueller from Google called one of those tools out:
@greenlaneseo Is this a blackhat tool or does it abide by the webmaster guidelines & robots.txt? (just curious)— John ☆.o(≧▽≦)o.☆ (@JohnMu) December 14, 2016
Clearly, it seems Google is going after some of these tools and will be cracking down on more automated queries. Google doesn't just issue PSAs for ongoing, known violations without having a plan to crack down in the near future.
So if you have a popular tool or use a popular tool that does automated queries, it might not work in the near future.
Forum discussion at Twitter.