Search Engine Watch

SEO and cybersecurity: Incorporating cybersecurity into your SEO strategy

30-second summary:

  • Website security directly impacts the SEO performance of the website, as the non-compliance with the security requirements can cause low rankings or Google penalties.
  • Blacklisting, malicious bots interfering with the crawling process, and spam attacks are among the main consequences of low website security.
  • The “site not available” warning, the presence of strange JavaScript code, not working login credentials and frequent error messages can be the warning signs of a cyberattack on your website.
  • Making security checks a part of your SEO strategy would help you create a website that is resistant to cybersecurity attacks.

Every site needs to be secure and there are no “too small” or “too unnecessary” sites for malicious attacks. Online businesses are fully centered on high search rankings for online reputation and profits. For this purpose, they often implement the most effective SEO tactics, from link building to great content marketing, to land up on the front page of Google search. Nevertheless, apart from delivering the best content to the users, Google is also aimed at making the internet a safe environment, hence placing importance on websites’ cybersecurity practices.

In fact, hacks may not only be destructive for your reputation but also for your site’s organic search performance. Hence, cybersecurity and SEO go hand in hand towards building a firm’s online reputation. If the website doesn’t mean the latest security compliance it can be blacklisted by Google, suffer from spam attacks or activities of malicious bots. 

So we want to share effective advice on how to recognize the security vulnerabilities in time, how to integrate the security checks into your development strategy, why you should regularly scan your website, and how to protect your local networks. 

Four main steps to improve website security

Security or the absence of security may seriously affect your SEO. We all know that the HTTP certificate is no longer a reliable way to secure the site and the HTTPS has, for the most part, become the poster boy of the security standard. In 2014, Google started to prioritize the sites with HTTPS in the search results. 

Focusing on SEO and security will help your business to step on the steer of success. The struggle to improve the website’s ranking and keeping it cybersecurity is common for many companies so here what we suggest:

#1: Learn to recognize the earliest warning signs

Cyber attacks can cause malicious bots activity. Bots will always represent a part of your traffic but not all bots are harmless to the site’s security. Cybercriminals, however, launch bots to crawl sites in the search for vulnerable parts, data theft, or content crapping. Malicious bots use the same bandwidth as the “good” bots and normal visitors do. If your server is a subject of repetitive tasks by malicious bots, it may lead to the server to stop serving pages. 

Cybercriminals always rely on the website’s weak sides to hack it. Thus, it’s essential to stay ahead and pay attention to the following warning signs of cyberattacks that are supposed to make your inner radar shout. Cybercriminals can cause malicious bots activity. 

Google Alerts and notifications

In case you received a Google alert notification or see a “Site not available” warning in search results, we have bad news. This is a sign that your website has been hacked. To confirm this fact, go to the Google Search Console, the Security Issues section, and look for the hacked URLs that Google has detected.

Presence of strange JavaScript code

The presence of a weird Java code in the source code of your website is a reliable alert sign. Javascript codes are often used by hackers to steal precious personal data like credit card details or passwords from your site. If you see any trace of strange-looking code, get rid of it immediately. 

Your login credentials don’t work

Not hard to guess that something goes wrong when you enter the valid login info and get the “wrong password” notification. Your login credentials have been altered by cybercriminals. 

You get frequent random popups or error messages

More than half of malicious attacks on websites are performed by “black” SEO’s who are aimed at improving their own site’s ranking. They target the sites with prominent search rankings and insert links or use Javascript to redirect users to their own malicious websites. SEO spamming allows scammers to use high-ranking websites in order to promote low-quality content to low masses and, consequently, push their rankings. SEO spam has several negative impacts:

  1. The site will get blacklisted by the search engine.
  2. The site’s spam ranking may reduce the site’s ranking
  3. The business reputation will get dramatically spoiled as visitors will see lots of spamming content.

Very often hackers use cross-site scripting or insert their own code into the source code of your website to bypass its security system. So if you get any kind of these notifications, don’t ignore them. It’s time to run a serious scan in order to discover the malicious software.

#2: Make security check a part of your developing strategy

If you ever become the subject of a cyber attack, financial losses are not the only concerning consequence. The compromised website may face a range of penalties by Google and distort the search results. When potential customers will look for your website, they will most probably first meet a warning page that will dissuade them from visiting your site. Consequently, it is essential to make cybersecurity a part of your SEO strategy.

Trusting Google alerts is a good piece of advice there’s more than that to be done. Learn to predict the possible threats and control the cybersecurity level. In addition to involving your team of IT-specialists, hire one more cybersecurity professional. Only a qualified specialist will help you discover the site’s vulnerabilities and elaborate on the cyber protection strategy for your eCommerce business.

#3: Use effective scanning tools

One more way to get rid of malicious intervention is by using a file malware scanner. The system looks at the website code to check web pages for malware or strange PHP or HTML files on your server. The examples of scanners that can prevent your site from being penalized, blacklisted, and maintain your search engine rankings are Sucuri SiteCheck or Web Inspector. 

In addition, open-source web analytics tools like AWStats can scan your log files for suspicious activity. This tool offers data on every bot that crawled your site, bandwidth consumed, last crawled date, and total hits, allowing you to detect malicious activity.

For example, a bot’s throughput does not exceed a few megabytes per month. If you face thousands of page hits from a single IP address within a short time period the available bandwidth will be limited.

Finally, use tools like Ahrefs and Majestic to check your backlink profile. They will not only improve your site’s SEO but also track down unnecessary backlinks from SEO spammers.

#4: Protect your security and privacy with VPN

No matter where you are in a remote area, at home, or office, local network security should be tightened under any circumstances. A large network is highly susceptible to human error, and the risks cannot be underestimated compared to a small network. All users need to ensure that they’re compliant with all standard security measures. Despite the time and place of their work, they must ensure that the traffic is controlled with the Web Application Firewall and the connections are encrypted with a stable VPN.  

There are three main ways in which a VPN significantly increases the security of your website. First, it encrypts all the sensitive data, so hackers can’t access it. Second, VPN intercepts any malicious software or phishing attempts stopping them from infiltrating your system. And third, VPNs are a must-have for companies having remote employees who might be accessing companies’ systems using public hotspots as doing that without a VPN can lead to security vulnerabilities. 

Today’s market does not experience any shortage of quality VPN suppliers. So do your research and choose the VPN that would meet all of your business needs. 

Conclusion

Internet security matters and it matters a lot. The security breach in your website’s operation may cause dramatic damage to the eCommerce web site’s reputation and income. Cybersecurity needs to become a part of your SEO strategy for all eCommerce companies that want to take the leading position on the market of online sales. Now when you know that safety is crucial within the web, it’s time for the SEO and IT team to unite the forces and make up a reliable strategy that will raise the website’s ranking and maintain the security of your site.

Connie Benton is a chief content writer, guest contributor, and enthusiastic blogger who helps B2B companies reach their audiences more effectively. You can find her on Twitter at @ConnieB34412379.



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