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Can Hackers Harm Your Website’s SEO?

Hacker on a digital background | Connected Platforms

When it comes to SEO, website security is rarely among the top priorities for most businesses.

But if you neglect your website security and leave it open to cyberattacks, then it could affect more than just the functionality of your website – it could also hurt your rankings and harm your SEO.

To see why, it’s important to understand what cyberattacks often do to websites and, more importantly, how Google responds to them.

 

Website Hacks that Hurt Your SEO

Cyberattacks come in different forms and levels, but the most problematic of these (at least for SEO) come via website spamming and the malware installation.

Website spamming is when a hacker uses your website to redirect your website user into other – often malicious – websites. Hackers can do this by replacing text on your website with links or placing codes on your website that automatically redirects your users to a different website. Malware, on the other hand, uses your website to spread a virus to the computers of your users.

These website hacks are bad enough by themselves, but your problems can get even bigger if Google notices your website is hacked.

 

How Google Penalises Suspected Websites

Simply put, Google hates spam, malware, and other malicious software. To fight these, Google places strong measures to protect people from them.

  1. Blacklisting. If Google detects malicious software or content on your website, it will flag your website and remove it from search results for quarantine. It will remain blacklisted until the identified issues are fixed.
  2. User warnings. Google’s Safe Browsing services will warn potential users if it suspects or detects malicious content on your website. These warning messages will describe your website as potentially harmful or unsafe.

Needless to say, either of these measures will cause a significant drop in your traffic, conversions, and rankings. If your website is blacklisted, then your website won’t appear in search results. Warning messages, meanwhile, will effectively turn away users from your website and prevent them from accessing it.

 

Using Good Website Security to Improve Your SEO

While bad website security can harm your SEO, the good news is that the opposite is also true: good website security can improve your SEO.

Aside from preventing your website from being flagged and blacklisted by Google, good website security can boost your SEO by:

 

  • Improving conversions. People tend to trust secure websites more than unsecured websites, especially if they’re purchasing a product or service on your site. The more secure your website is, the more likely they’ll explore and use your website.
  • Being trusted by Google. HTTPS has been a ranking signal in Google’s algorithm for years now, and many signs point to it becoming a stronger signal today. In fact, starting in July 2018, the Google Chrome web browser will mark all non-HTTPS sites as “not secure”, making HTTPS even more critical.
  • Improving load times. Secure websites typically load faster than unsecured websites, improving user experience and traffic to your website.

 

Tips for Securing Your Website

Although there’s no way to prevent website hacks completely, there are things you can do to secure your website and make it harder to get hacked:

  • Migrate your site to HTTPS. If you haven’t done so yet, make sure to migrate your website from HTTP to HTTPS. This will help protect the transfer of data and information on your website.
  • Update your software and plugins. By making sure all your software and website plugins are up to date, you can ensure that your website is protected against the latest online threats.
  • Scan your website regularly. There are many web security tools that you can use to test and evaluate your website for vulnerabilities.
  • Create back-ups. Back-ups can help you protect information and rebuild your website in the event of a hack.
  • Use secure logins and passwords. The more secure your logins and passwords, the more difficult it will be for hackers to steal them.
  • Secure your computer systems. Make sure that your computer doesn’t have spyware and other malicious software that can steal your information and spread its attack to your website.

 

Protecting Your Business with Good Website Security

In today’s world, good website security isn’t a want – it’s a need.

Without it, you’re leaving your business vulnerable to cyberattacks that not only harm your business and users but your company’s SEO as well.

If you’re not sure how to protect your website and improve your SEO, then consult with SEO professionals who can provide the information and solutions you need. You should also consider getting managed IT services from our team here at Connected Platforms. With managed IT services in place, we can tailor your system’s infrastructure to be as secure as possible.

You’ve spent time and money on your website to get it in the best position to get customers and results. The worst thing you can do is to leave it open to attacks that could undo all the work and investment you put it into it.