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how website security affects SEO

How Website Security Affects SEO Ranking

website security is important
via Pixabay

SEO is one of the most valuable strategies website owners focus on. It helps rank the top of search engines, drives traffic, and builds brand awareness. But it is not as simple as you may think.

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, requires careful planning and keeping updates with the latest algorithm by Google and other search engines. And when we say keeping up, it means SEO experts need to follow 200 ranking factors for the website to be on the snippet or first page.

When you miss one, it can affect the entire SEO strategy. 

But as most experts focus on building the website’s ranking, they often neglect the importance of security. Cyber threats are increasing in number even as we advance in the detection and mitigation of threats. Over 18 million websites are infected with malware every week, proving that websites don’t or partially focus on cybersecurity.

As much as SEO is crucial to the ranking of a website, so is security. When Google and other search engines detect unsafe websites, it penalizes them. Hence, it affects the SEO strategies.

Website security is one of the ranking factors of Google. As Google aims to provide its users with a relevant, informative, and secure website, they’ll prevent an unsafe website from ranking on their SERP.

If one doesn’t implement website security, they will suffer the following effects.

How Lack of Website Security Affects SEO Ranking

404 Errors

“Error 404 – content not found” is a page error that means the content on that URL has been deleted. Hackers can do such a thing. They delete the content of a page leading to an Error 404. But Error 404 doesn’t always mean there is an attack.

Google doesn’t penalize an Error 404 pages if it’s a rare occurrence. However, 404 pages can be a sign that your website is susceptible to attacks. If you have left your Error 404 page for a long time to exist, it will affect its ranking.

Dreaded Downtime

A website that is down for a couple of hours will not affect the ranking immediately. Google bots will re-crawl a website to check if it’s back. But if your website takes days before up and running, it can affect the ranking on SERP. 

It will affect the main keywords you have worked hard to rank on Google. Remember, an 8-hour downtime and more can drop a website’s SERPs for 35%.

When Google discovers your website has been down for a while, it will penalize your SEO efforts.

SEO Penalties

If downtime and Error 404 pages take longer than expected, Google will start to penalize your website and SEO ranking. If they have detected that a website is infected by malware, they diminish its visibility to avoid people from visiting the site.

Unsafe websites can be harmful to customers and their data. Therefore, Google tries to prevent malicious websites on the user’s search result page.

Also, search engines blacklist websites that contain malware to prevent them from infecting other devices and users.

SEO Spam

SEO spamming often happens to small businesses, NGOs, and WP blogs. Hackers will insert or inject their keywords and products to your website to promote theirs. It often targets a website’s high-ranking page.

If businesses disregard website security, it affects their SEO ranking on search engines. 

Furthermore, people will distrust unsafe websites. Therefore, it affects the sales and income of the business.

It is crucial to prioritize website security to avoid problems with trust and let your SEO work go to waste.

So, how can you protect your website from such issues?

How to Prioritize Website Security?

Scan and Audit Your Website 

To ensure what part of your website requires changes or protection, you’ll need to audit it first. You can scan your website for vulnerabilities to locate flaws in the software, hardware, network, and more. Determining such vulnerabilities will prevent hackers from exploiting them. 

Follow it by scanning your website for the presence of malware on the code. After you have discovered weaknesses on your website, you’ll need to tighten the security.

Update Software and Plugins

If you are using a Content Management System (CMS), you know they provide security measures for your website. However, the tools and extensions used on CMS are highly accessible. They are coded in an open-source program, which makes them accessible to anyone.

To avoid vulnerabilities and bugs being exploited by attackers, always keep your software, plugins, or extensions updated. However, if there are no longer updates available, delete and change the extension.

Create Strong Passwords and Limit Access

Employees’ negligence is the biggest cause of cyberattacks. Therefore, educating them and giving them limited access can prevent such. One most neglected security that employees do is using weak passwords.

Brute force attacks are often used by hackers to access a website. When they have deciphered the password, they can easily make changes to your website. These changes can impact the status of your SEO.

Creating strong passwords on all employees’ accounts and access to the website can protect it from attackers. A strong password will take hackers years to guess. 

When using a strong password, here are some tips you should consider:

  • Combination of upper and lower cases
  • Numbers and symbols
  • No personal information
  • No sharing and recycling of passwords
  • It must not exist in the dictionary
  • Minimum of 8 characters, but the longer, the better.

A password manager can help store all passwords from different accounts and allows auto-sign-ins.

Avail an SSL Certificate

SSL or Secured Socket Layer is a security technology that provides a website with additional protection from spies. It encrypts the traffic or data from the website to the client’s server.

When installing an SSL certificate on your website, previous and unsecured HTTP will convert to HTTPS. Hence, it becomes a more potent shield to fight digital threats. Even if the attacker accesses the server, they will not see anything, only scrambled letters.

Use Security Plug-in on Website

Bots attacks websites million times a day in a week. When hackers gain access to your website, they can insert malware that can steal data. Furthermore, it will compromise your entire website, affecting your ranking and reputation.

If you need constant checkups on the codes and server of your website, use security plugins. It will proactively prevent brute force attacks and malware from gaining access to your website. 

Aside from protecting your website, you need to secure your business’s devices, software, and cloud storage.

Update All Devices and Software

Getting the latest updates on your device will help patch vulnerabilities and bugs in the software. It will prevent hackers from discovering a weakness in your system and using it to their advantage. Furthermore, you’ll get new features for your software and systems.

Use a Firewall

Protect your server by using a firewall to filter the network and block threats that are unauthorized to access the server. It keeps data being transferred safely from prying eyes.

It monitors the network packets, filters inboxes, and removes unwanted traffic.

Install an Intrusion Detection System (IDS)

IDS can be a software or device that monitors the network from malicious activities. It detects intrusions or policy violations using security information and event management systems. There are different types of IDS, which depend on what it will protect.

Get a File Integrity Monitoring (FIM) Software

FIM is a security software program and technology that checks the operating system, database, and application. It monitors and detects if there are any changes or tampering with the content.

When you install an FIM on your device, it will create a database of the latest version of the files. Then, it monitors every change that is made. It tracks changes the person makes and provides suggestions to restore modified files.

It’s an excellent way to detect malicious activities that are going on in your folders and files. It proactively audits content using the rule-based active monitoring method.

Install an Antivirus or Malware Software Program

You’ll need to secure your devices from threats using the best antivirus software app. There are plenty of antivirus apps you can find in the market that are packed with basic to advanced features. It can scan threats (manually or automatically), provide online protection, filter email, secure passwords, and more.

You can try some of our latest antivirus software products, such as Norton Security NZ, Kaspersky Small Office, and Bitdefender Total Security. Get that protection you need to keep your device and online activities safe.

Automate Backups

Ransomware is one of the biggest threats that a company can experience. Businesses that haven’t backed up their data or lose access to their website will take time to keep it running. When this happens, Google will penalize the website, which in return affects the SEO ranking.

If you automatically backup your website’s data and content, it will be easy to resume business. Even if there is a breach, you can continue your operation without affecting your website’s ranking on search engines.

Website Security and SEO Go Together

Website security should be on top of your business’s priorities. It affects your company’s reputation, brand awareness, sales, and even SEO ranking.

Prioritizing website security means you are less likely to encounter threats and attacks. You’ll have the peace of mind you need and continue your business’s operation. With the right strategies to protect your website, you get to keep your Google ranking.

Google and other search engines require websites to be secured. If websites don’t comply with this requirement, their ranking on a search engine would be affected. As a result, they can be diminished from the top of the SERP and lose traffic and sales. 

By auditing your website, staying updated to all software and plugins, and scanning for vulnerabilities, you can retain the security and ranking of your website on the search engine.

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