Website Security: A Critical Component of SEO Success
Website security and SEO are closely bound. Security measures play a significant role in ensuring the success of your efforts put into SEO. A Search engine like Google prioritizes the safety of its users while delivering a top-notch search experience. Website security, therefore, becomes a ranking factor.
Secure websites, protected by SSL certificates and HTTPS protocols, carry an advantage in search engine rankings. A website that is secured with defensive measures like a firewall and offensive measures like vulnerability analysis also improves other SEO metrics like engagement, bounce rate, etc. We’ll try to create a comprehensive picture of the relationship shared by SEO and website security.
Website Security, user trust, and engagement
Every website owner is responsible for creating a safe and secure browsing experience for their visitors. If search engine users encounter warnings or signs of potential security risks while visiting a site, they are likely to avoid engagement with such websites. On the flip side, a secure website inspires confidence in users.When you create a secure browsing experience for your visitors, they are likely to stay longer, engage with your content, and even make a purchase from your site. Any doubts about security can completely ruin the possibility of conversion. Moreover, it contributes to increased bounce rate pushing your site further down the search index.
Getting blacklisted can ruin your SEO efforts
Google checks all the sites it indexes for malicious scripts. If your website is found to contain malware, Google can silently put your website in the blacklist and remove it from search results. Now this situation has a devastating effect on SEO.
- All the work you have put in to enhance your site’s position on the SERP goes down the drain.
- Users can no longer find your sites so they are likely to reach out to a competitor.
- Even if someone tries to visit your site using a link, they’re likely to get a warning message which in turn would discourage them from engaging in business with your company.
Overall, being blacklisted has a terrible effect on your brand, on your customer footfall, and resultantly revenue.
Do not let hackers hijack your SERP position
A study conducted by GoDaddy revealed that 73% of website hacks had SEO spam at their core. When your website has vulnerabilities like lack of input validation, misconfigurations, and susceptibility to SQL injection, hackers can use your high authority site as a link farm. They can insert malicious links into your website directing your visitors to malicious sites.
Three things can happen here. One, your visitors start mistrusting you after being redirected without intent. Two, your business suffers terrible reputation loss following an incident like that. Three, Google blacklists your site to protect its users from phishing attacks.
Now remember, you are most likely to be subject to such hijack attempts after you have climbed up the SERP. That means you have already invested a ton of money, hours, and effort in SEO before a hacker notices your site and decides to corrupt it.
To safeguard your online presence and protect your visitors, it is crucial to regularly scan your server for vulnerabilities. By conducting vulnerability scans, you can identify potential weaknesses, such as insecure input validation, misconfigurations, and susceptibility to SQL injection, that could be exploited by hackers. Addressing these vulnerabilities promptly can prevent your website from being used as a link farm for malicious activities and ensure the safety and integrity of your visitors’ browsing experience.
Additionally, scanning your server for vulnerabilities is an essential proactive measure to maintain the trust of your visitors, protect your business reputation, and avoid potential blacklisting by search engines like Google.
SEO sinks if you suffer a DDoS attack
Distributed Denial of Service is probably one of the most hated phrases in the IT business fraternity. For big businesses who deal in millions every hour, a DDoS lasting even for an afternoon can mean a heavy loss. For companies who are fighting tooth and nail to make an impact – updating thousands of lines of code and overhauling architecture to reduce load time – a DDoS attack can cut even deeper.
Hackers use corrupt computers (botnets) to send huge amounts of traffic to a specific website, crippling it and making it unusable for the legitimate users. It destroys the work you’ve put into enhancing website performance which creates a quicksand into which your SEO efforts sink.
Steps to protect your SEO efforts from cyberthreats
Implement robust website security
- Make sure your hosting provider keeps the environment secure
- Keep your CMS, plugins, and themes up to date.
- Always use secure protocols such as HTTPS.
- Set up a web application firewall (WAF) to filter out malicious traffic.
Use strong and unique passwords
- Ensure that all user accounts, including administrator accounts are protected with long and complex passwords
- Completely avoid using common passwords
- A password management tool can help you in this regard. You should also download SurfShark to cover your trails when accessing your login board.
Regularly backup your website:
- Perform regular backups of your website’s files and databases
- Test the restoration process periodically
- In case of a cyberattack or data loss, having recent backups will help you recover your website and SEO efforts.
Protect against malware and hacking attempts:
- Install a reliable antivirus and anti-malware solution on your computer and keep it up to date.
- Opt for regular vulnerability assessment and penetration testing.
Be cautious of third-party integrations and code:
- Carefully vet and review any third-party integrations or code
- Monitor your website’s performance and behaviour for any unexpected changes that could indicate a security breach.
Monitor and respond to suspicious activity:
- Monitor probable attack surfaces and indicators of malicious activity carefully
- Have an incident response protocol in place so that you can launch a prompt counter measure to any security incident.
Regular security testing
The importance of regular security testing cannot be stressed enough. Setting up a system of continuous vulnerability scanning and frequent penetration testing helps you be vigilant about your business’s security posture. Vulnerability analysis helps you identify the most potent risks and address them accordingly through intelligent resource allocation.
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Search engine optimization plays a pivotal role in driving traffic to your marketing websites. It has a direct impact on your revenue. SEO and content professionals spend innumerable hours to build organic traffic to your website through blogging, link building, and whatnot. A cyber attack can turn all of this effort into ash.
A strong security posture builds trust, creates reliability, and boosts reputation. All of these qualities lead to better ranking. Your website’s performance is key to getting placed high on the SERP for a keyword and performance is dependent on security. All of these correlations establish website security as a key component for the success of your SEO efforts.