How Does Website Security Affect Your SEO?

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By Boris Dzhingarov

Heading into the New Year is always a great time for business owners to take stock of where things are with the business at the moment. You can re-examine goals that you hope to achieve in the coming weeks, months, and year, and also look for areas that improvements can be made in terms of profit margins, production, shipment, customer relations, and more. With all of that in mind, this is also an excellent time to think about your company’s website security.

Even with the fact that cybersecurity is more talked about than ever before, it still seems to be an issue that many businesses, especially small and medium sized ones, are dealing with. There are even statistics that show that the number of breaches is on the increase, even with an increase in knowledge. Heading into 2020, the only solution is to make cybersecurity prevention a top priority.

While most people are aware of how hackers can access personal data and information, did you know that website security will even affect your SEO efforts? That means that all the work you’re putting into your SEO could be for nothing if website security isn’t a priority. Let’s take a closer look.

The Dreaded Google Blacklist

One of the most impactful and frankly devastating consequences of not beefing up your cybersecurity is that your company’s website can end up blacklisted by Google. If Google takes this measure, you can expect to see a massive hit to your SEO rankings. Ranking on that all-important first search page of Google will be non-existent, which means the likelihood of your website being found by new and potential customers is slim to none.

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So, how do you end up blacklisted? Blacklisting is a step that Google, or any search engine, will take if your site has a history of malware attacks. The search engine will blacklist your site in order to protect visitors from going there, and potentially falling victim to cybersecurity threats and issues such as malware. Search engines such as Google constantly work to scan various websites looking for malware activity, so it is an on-going process.

The first step will be for Google to place a message next to your site warning people that malware has been detected, and then the next step is to remove your site from the search results all together – which is extremely drastic and consequential.

This brings us to malware. This is just a fancy name for software that has been developed strictly for malicious intent. It can include spyware, ransomware, and viruses. It allows hackers to gain access to a person’s network and their data. Unfortunately, it seems as though malware has only grown more and more sophisticated over the years, which makes cybersecurity all the more important and yet difficult at the same time.

Be Wary of Content Scraping

Did you know that at any given time, there are tons of automated bots that are working to copy content from various websites and then publish it on other ones? The technical term for this process is content scraping, and again, it can affect your SEO rankings in a very negative way. Unfortunately, many businesses aren’t even aware that it is happening to their site, let alone the frequency at which it happens.

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In order to understand how this negatively affects your SEO efforts, it’s important to understand what goes into improving your ranking in the first place.

While there are all kinds of SEO techniques you can use, one is to create unique and interesting content that draws visitors to your site. If bots are in fact stealing this content and using it elsewhere, your content is no longer unique and the website takes a hit in terms of rankings. What this means is that you can be putting all kinds of resources into developing incredible content, only to have all those efforts be in vain.

SEO Spam is Also on the Rise

Then there is SEO spam, which is on the rise. With this effort, hackers look to identify the top performing websites where site rankings are concerned and then insert links that will send visitors to malicious sites. Javascript is used in these efforts, and is quite successful unfortunately.

In a nutshell, this is allowing hackers to insert low-quality content onto these top-ranking sites, which will help the low-quality site but not the top one. Your site can end up being blacklisted and at the very least it can be bad for your website’s reputation. Visitors are going to wonder what this low-quality content, or spam, is popping up. This turns them right off visiting your site in the future.

How Can You Stop It?

With all of these potential threats to your website security, it’s only natural to wonder how you go about stopping it. How do you ensure that your website doesn’t end up a victim of a cybersecurity hack?

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The top thing to keep in mind is that, as important as your SEO efforts are, if you aren’t backing them up with cybersecurity measures, then it is all for nothing. The two need to exist hand-in-hand, working in conjunction with each other at all times.

Experts recommend that you also familiarize yourself with the early warning signs that your website may be under attack. The faster you can identify a threat, the faster you can react and limit the damage.

You will also want to beef up your security measures such as investing in malware-scanning tools that will constantly be on the hunt for the malicious software.

Security audits are also becoming commonplace and should be undertaken by businesses of all sizes. The goal of these audits is to identify any potential threats so they can be remedied immediately.

Your SEO Efforts are Under Attack

So, while you continue to make your SEO efforts a top priority where your website is concerned, it’s important to also be aware of what you’re doing to keep your website safe and secure from hackers and those with malicious intents.