5 Reasons Why You Should Pay Attention to Website Security for SEO (And What To Do About It)
Once a website has been built, the attention of every website owner moves to SEO, content marketing, and social media marketing. And it makes sense because what’s the use of a website that doesn’t get traffic? However, one thing that is often ignored is security. Few website owners take it as seriously as they should. In truth, however, cybersecurity for SEO is as important as building backlinks or optimizing webpages. If your website is not secure, your search engine rankings may also get affected by that sooner or later.
Now you may be wondering… how is it possible? How can the security of our websites affect our SEO? And if it does, then what can we do to ensure that it doesn’t happen with us? That’s precisely what we are going to discuss in this article. Let’s begin!
1. Protect All Your Domains With An SSL Certificate
Firstly, you should protect all your domains and subdomains with an SSL certificate. Websites that do not have an SSL certificate installed on their server load over HTTP protocol instead of the more secure HTTPS protocol. This becomes a major problem for their SEO because Google has a policy to not rank websites loading over HTTP in the first pages of its search results. Only those webpages which load over HTTPS are ranked in the first pages of Google’s search results for all keywords.
So, if your website lacks an SSL certificate, almost all your SEO efforts will go in vain and your site won’t stand a chance to rank on the first page of Google for any keyword. Therefore, the first thing you should do is install a wildcard SSL certificate on your webserver to protect your root domain and all its subdomains.
2. Protect Your Bandwidth From Malicious Bots
There is no doubt in the fact that a sizable percentage of your daily website visitors will be bots. And these bots consume the same bandwidth and resources that regular visitors consume, so they matter. If they consume too much of your resources, the bots of search engines (crawlers) may face difficulties in properly crawling your site. Therefore, you should control how much resources they consume. Take the following steps to ensure that no bots are consuming too much of your bandwidth:
- Use server-side caching to serve pre-built lightweight HTML versions of your webpages. This will save the bandwidth that would otherwise be consumed in recreating the same web page repeatedly.
- Check trackbacks and backlinks, and if you find any spammy sites using your content, then file a DMCA complaint with Google.
- Routinely check log files and if you find any bots consuming more than a few megabytes per month, block them from accessing your site. Search engine bots are usually easy to be identified as their hostnames are well-recognized, i.e., ‘*.googlebot.com‘, *.search.msn.com, etc. If less-known bots are visiting your site again and again and consuming a lot of bandwidth, it’ll be better to find their source and block all traffic coming from it through a firewall (more on this in a minute).
You may also want to read: Keep Your Business Website Safe From a Cyber Attack
3. Protect Your Site From SQL Injection Attacks To Avoid SEO Spam
According to one Godaddy survey, more than 70% of cyberattacks on websites are done for SEO spam. In these attacks, the websites are loaded with malicious code and spammy content that has nothing to do with the website’s subject. When people visit these sites loaded with spam, the inadequate experience leads them to close the tab quickly. This user behavior is monitored by Google and further confirmed by their search crawler. The result is that your website starts dropping down in the search results.
In some cases, if SEO spam is not removed from a site for long durations, the sites are blacklisted by Google and other search engines. Though it is done with only 10% of attacked sites, once a website is blacklisted, its chances of ranking in SERPs become lower than ever.
Now, most of these SEO spam attacks are made by injecting malicious code into input form fields to steal your admin panel’s necessary login credentials. If you can protect your site against SQL injection attacks, you can avoid SEO spam to a large extent.
The way to do that is to implement the following steps:
- Use a reputed hosting provider. WP Engine and other managed WordPress hosting providers protect their customers against SQL Injection attacks. While they may not be the cheapest hosting provider available in the market, they can certainly put you miles ahead when it comes to cybersecurity, so choose them to host your site if possible.
- Validate user inputs on both client-side as well as server-side
- Limit accessibility of administrative privileges and not allowing other user accounts to manipulate all functions on your site
- Encrypt confidential data, no matter how secure your database
- Use generic error messages instead of specific error codes that leave a trail of hints.
You may also want to read: Is Working Remotely Risking Your Personal Data?
4. Monitor User Activity With Firewalls
We have already discussed enough how malicious bots can cause problems in your website’s crawling and how SQL injection attacks can allow someone to compromise your site and load it with SEO spam. We also discussed some steps that can come in handy to protect your site against these issues. However, monitoring user activity on your site is also crucial to keep these security threats in check. And a firewall is the tool that allows you to do that. It not only allows you to monitor all user activity but also blocks the sources of traffic generating suspicious activity – something that we discussed above. Therefore, install a good firewall on your site, and configure it to monitor and block suspicious user activity.
5. Use Strong Passwords
Finally, most people often overlook a fundamental thing that can make a lot of difference in your website’s security: using a strong password for your admin panel. If your password is weak, it can be cracked by cybercriminals through brute force attacks, post which they can launch not only an SEO Spam attack on your site but also limit your ability to detect and block suspicious user activity by turning off the firewall and other real-time threat management tools. Avoid it from happening by using a password that is at least eight characters long and combines letters, numbers, and symbols.
You may also want to read: Data Redundancy: Why You Need An External Storage Device
As you can see from the explanations given above, there are many ways cybersecurity can affect the SEO of your website. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to your website security if you want to ensure that your SEO efforts deliver maximum results.
Jason Parms is the customer service manager at SSL2BUY Inc. His key responsibility is maintaining customer happiness by providing help desk resources and technical guidance, resolution for customer troubles, detecting and diagnosing network problems, and managing staff. As a part of the online security industry, He is always updating knowledge by contributing to cybersecurity events, reading information security publications, maintaining personal networks, examine information and applications, participate in security surveys. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here, or follow/tweet him @ssl2buy
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Note: We added our affiliate link for WP Engine, which was included by Jason. We swear by the company so are happy to recommend them to readers (and maybe make a few bucks if anyone signs up through our link)