Search engine optimization (SEO) can help businesses rank at the top of the search engine results pages. As a business owner, your priority is to drive up organic online traffic, target leads, and improve your bottom line.
However, your SEO efforts may prove worthless if Google punishes your site’s poor security status. The search engine giant makes every effort to protect users from data hacking and cyberattacks. If you fail to provide protection to your visitors, Google can penalize your site and block it.
An unsecured website can also face other potential threats, including:
- Sensitive data or financial loss
- Serious site downtime
- Damage to reputation
According to studies, a website can suffer more than 60 online attacks every day. Indeed, just one successful attack can compromise your site and put all your SEO efforts to waste.
How can cyberattacks derail your SEO gains?
According to this site, visitor engagement often leads to conversion. One way to encourage people to purchase your products and services is through positive feedback.
Naturally, you want your Google My Business (GMB) to receive positive reviews. However, visitors affected by your website’s security issues may be inclined to post a negative comment. Since this comment is in the public domain and likely to stay there for a while, it can damage your online reputation. Users may also decide to shun your business.
If somebody maliciously hacks your web pages and injects a harmful code, you may end up on Google’s banned list. It is imperative that you take steps to prevent this from happening as Google is currently the primary source of online traffic.
Search engines often depend on bots to crawl, index, and rank websites. However, there are also bots out there that can harm your website (e.g., by stealing sensitive data). Furthermore, they can have a negative impact on your online traffic and ranking.
Hackers can fill your website with malicious links and keywords to redirect visitors to harmful content. As well as damaging your organic search ranking, spam attacks can also cause visitors to stay away from your site.
What cybersecurity steps should you take?
You must do everything in your power to keep your online business safe from cyberattacks. In this regard, you can use HTTPS, strong password protocols, and even a VPN. You can also implement other cybersecurity methods, as outlined below.
Conduct regular site and network audits
You can identify your website’s hidden security vulnerabilities by hiring a cybersecurity specialist. There are also online scanning tools available that can perform the same role. Some of the vulnerabilities you should look out for include:
- Expired certificates
- Outdated content or protocols
Meanwhile, a network audit involves evaluating static and activity-related data for possible security risks. The operating system is an example of static data, while activity data refers to logins and file transfers.
A network security audit can uncover:
- Outdated systems or security policies
- Improper firewall configuration
Incorporate a firewall and intrusion detection system
Your online business needs a firewall because it will protect your network from:
- Unauthorized access
- Unwelcome traffic
- Malicious apps and software
Depending on your requirements, you can install a hardware firewall, a software firewall or both.
If you own a cloud-based business, you may wish to consider a cloud firewall as this will provide strong perimeter security.
Always ensure that the firewall is configured correctly and audited regularly.
In addition to a firewall, an intrusion detection system (IDS) can monitor online traffic for suspicious activities. Administrators can use the IDS to block signature attacks and other cyber intrusions.
The firewall will act as your first line of defense while the IDS will act as a backup.
You should also consider installing anti-virus and malware scanning software. These tools can alert you to security threats and quarantine, and remove suspected infections. Don’t forget to run regular scans.
Improve site security
It is vital that you continuously improve your website security, especially if you are using WordPress CMS. Many attackers prefer to target these systems due to their known vulnerabilities and sometimes obsolete software.
Fortunately, you can defend your website from these unwanted attacks by:
- Updating it regularly. You can install a dependable security plugin to monitor, scan, and block unwanted features.
- ● Using appropriate tools to test the reliability of plugins with the latest WordPress versions.
Add an HTTPS/SSL Certificate to your URL
HTTPS means hypertext transfer protocol secure while SSL means secure socket layer. These certificates ensure the safe transmission of incoming and outgoing data. In fact, in terms of its online rankings, Google prioritizes websites with HTTPS. Adding HTTPS to your URL won’t automatically make your site secure but it will offer some important security while improving your search engine ranking.
Choose a reliable web hosting provider
Web hosting providers should provide security while improving your SEO actions.
While free hosting services offer financial advantages, there are also risks, such as not enough protection from malware or DDoS attacks. It is much better to use a paid hosting service that delivers superior security protection.
How to recognize the signs of cyberattacks
Google alerts or frequent error messages
A Google alert notification or “site not available” message in the search results may mean that your website has been compromised.
Login credentials aren’t working
Every business owner should consider cybersecurity when conducting their SEO campaigns. Ideally, updating the website and creating new content should involve regular audits and monitoring suspicious activities. Preventive actions are always better than having to react to a cyberattack. An excellent cybersecurity strategy will make use of an HTTPS/SSL certificate and a reliable hosting provider. Moreover, other security measures, such as scanning, can protect your site’s sensitive data, help maintain your customers’ loyalty, and preserve your high ranking.
For assistance with your company cybersecurity, please contact Red Beach Advisors at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a discovery session to identify your company’s needs.