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According to Google, 12 to 14 million searches per day returned hacked sites to online searchers. These hacked sites are categorized as either compromised (content and links have changed) or harmful (users’ computers may be infected with malware). Google doesn’t like insecure or hacked sites, and neither should your small-to-medium sized business.
In an age of technology (and global-scale online breaches happening seemingly monthly), hackers are capable of installing malicious code, redirecting your website to another, pulling private data, or deleting your website completely. The consequences of these non-consensual changes to your website can have a shattering impact on your business, rankings, and SEO.
An Often Overlooked Ranking Signal
To protect their users, Google and other search engines will penalize an “attacked” site, especially those that host malware (even unknowingly). With that penalization, your rankings will drop until your site has fully recovered and online visitors are safe from harm.
The penalties stem from Google’s concern about user experience. Taken from Google itself, insecure sites with out-of-date software may get warning that “Google recommends that you update to the latest release. Older or unpatched software may be vulnerable to hacking or malware that can hurt your users.” If Google were to well-rank sites that could infect a user’s computers, that user would have trust issues with not only your site and brand, but also Google (who led them to the malicious site).
You can also increase your security by:
- Creating good passwords (numbers, letters, characters, capitalization, the whole shebang)
- Staying up-to-date on your webserver software
- Maintaining the security of your own computer and files
- Keeping an eye on your log files
- Checking your sites for common vulnerabilities
- Remaining up-to-date on the latest security news
If your site has already been hacked, you can also use GWT to check if you’ve removed all of the malicious code. If a malware warning remains in GWT after several days, your site may still be housing malicious code.
Worried about the health of your website? Have you been hacked? We can help! Our web development team can identify your site’s security vulnerabilities, assist with removing any malicious code, secure your site, and help protect you against future attacks.
Want to learn more about SEO in general and how to outrank your competitors? On Friday, August 16, 2013, Ben Landers and Blue Corona’s SEO team will be hosting an SEO Seminar and Workshop from 8:30am – 12:00pm. You’ll learn everything you need to know about SEO and leave with a turn-key strategy that you can implement now!
About The Author: Hannah is the Organic Team Lead at Blue Corona. If she's not busy daydreaming about the training session for her team, you can find her improving client conversion rates and planning her next trip.
View more blogs by Hannah Nelson