Lack Of WordPress security — can directly impact your website’s SEO performance & Thats’s the FACT. SEO & Website Security Go Hand-in-hand.
Also let me clear another thing, website security is not all about HTTPS. There are many other factors to consider. In this article you will learn about How does security affect SEO rankings & How a hacked WordPress site can destroy your SEO completely.
What is the SEO impact of an attack on WordPress site?
To what extent will site security affect your SEO ranking?
For a website owner, SEO remains a priority to improve ranking on search engines. And yet the effort for SEO should include web security, as a hacked website may lose its rankings. WordPress site security is something you need to take seriously. This is not just because it’s generally prudent, but because online security measures, directly affect your SEO rankings.
Another way ranking may fall is due to continuous attacks from site hackers which can prevent Google Bot from accessing the website, even if it is not hacked. These attacks can slow down the web server by attracting traffic to the website and even preventing web pages to be available on Google.
Google Search Console for pages that are not missing can still show 404 errors. This can happen due to web servers giving messages to web crawlers of Google that web pages are missing. Website scrapers and hackers attacking the website can cause this.
The above example directly shows how SEO can be affected by poor web security. Mitigating these attacks can be done by focusing on security and helping SEO by proper access allowed to Google web-crawlers to web pages.
SEO & Website Hacking
73.9% hacked sites were hacked for SEO purposes as per a study by GoDaddy. This was done by hackers by adding spurious links to the website and adding web pages and even starting to show altogether different sites just to Google.
According to GoDaddy’s study: (source)
“Search engine optimization (SEO) spam chases away customers and increases the risk of blacklisting. As the chart shows, it’s a favorite among hackers because they use it to redirect website visitors to malicious sites.”
This impacts the website as its ranking goes down and it can get blacklisted which is devastating for the SEO.
Web Security Monitoring
There are severe consequences to ignoring Web Security Monitoring. Despite that only, 50% of publishers monitor potential hacking events.
Only 6500 websites were banned by search engines when 65000 websites were analyzed by GoDaddy.
- Relying on Google to notify for banning of a website is not good for business &
- Only 10% of infected sites were banned as per the research of GoDaddy
This implies that the other 90% of infected sites were still there, without any notification from Google. Despite this, ranking can still impact a website. More so, the addition of spam pages and spam links can only have a negative outcome on the website.
You thought that your defense in cybersecurity stopped at HTTPS in your URL link? Think again! Many other factors regarding computer security come into play when determining your position in search engines.
Cyber security doesn’t stop at HTTPS
HTTP is the primary protocol for the transmission of information across the Internet.
Information is exchanged between clients and servers in the form of Hypertext documents, from which HTTP gets its name. Hypertext is a structured text that uses logical links, or hyperlinks, between nodes containing text.
Hypertext documents can be manipulated using the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). Using HTTP and HTML, clients can request different kinds of content (such as text, images, video, and application data) from web and application servers that host the content.
HTTP follows a request‑response paradigm in which the client makes a request and the server issues a response that includes not only the requested content but also relevant status information about the request.
This self‑contained design allows for the distributed nature of the Internet, where a request or response might pass through many intermediate routers and proxy servers. It also allows intermediary servers to perform value‑added functions such as load balancing, caching, encryption, and compression.
But as we know, cybersecurity doesn’t stop at HTTPS, and HTTPS does not mean that you have a secure website. There are several ways for a hacker to damage a website. You can first of all note the untimely presence of links to other questionable sites.
Or, more blatantly, your site has completely changed in appearance.
But what are the consequences of such hacking?
- Theft of personal or bank details
- Modification or loss of data
- Identity theft
- Financial loss
- Loss of customer confidence
- Malware infection
- Direct impact on SEO rankings
Prevention to anticipate future attacks
Establishing an effective backup routine should be your priority.
As we have just seen, a regular backup of your database ensures a quick and easy return to service.
If you realize that your site is too vulnerable, and you do not know how to remedy the problem, we advise you to carry out a complete overhaul of it.
Consider a redesign to prevent WordPress security vulnerabilities
Lack of updates or the use of dated technologies go a long way in making your site easy prey for hackers.
This may then be an opportunity to plan a complete overhaul, and to strengthen its security.
Is the SEO of your website in danger?
Google announced that HTTPS is a criterion taken into account positively in the ranking of the results of its search engine.
John Mueller (SEO spokesperson for Google), also explained how Google integrated HTTPS in its algorithm.
It is taken into account in real time by the search engine and evaluated page by page. Clearly, you can enjoy the SEO bonus on one page independently of another. However, it is strongly advised to switch your entire site to SSL.
His colleague Gary Illyes (Trends Analyst at Google) confirmed that an SEO positioning advantage was gradually being implemented and that they were even thinking about indicating in the results display the secure sites, by adding a colored badge.
This introduction into the algorithm of the first source of traffic in the world from 2014, aimed to give webmasters time to switch to SSL / TLS to encrypt their data exchanges. The weight of HTTPS in the ranking calculation had so far remained moderate and your wordpress site seo is always in danger of being hacked. Read – WordPress Hacked – How to Secure Your Site in 2020 [Guide]
Why do hackers go after our sites?
This is the recurring question of victims of cyber-attacks. First of all, you should know that the motivations of hackers can be very varied. It could be:
- Want to harm
by shutting down your site, via denial of service attacks for example, or by entering your database, to disclose confidential customer information
- Claim a cause
using your site as a showcase to communicate to the greatest number of shock messages (as was the case recently with Charlie hebdo).
- Organize a scam
by stealing personal data from your customers, recontact them by pretending to be you to extort money from them.
- Promote illicit products
by introducing in your web pages’ scripts allowing to display advertisements towards foreign sites proposing products / services not very recommended …
- Send spam
Many hacked sites send several hundred SPAMS EMAILS every day, before being blocked by the hosts. – Read – WordPress Phishing Attack
- Show his supremacy
Some computer cracks have become famous by successfully breaking into reputable “impregnable” computer systems (such as the hacker group LulzSec, which succeeded in bringing down the CIA site by advocating “humorous” hacking)
More surprisingly, not all hackers are your enemies. Some voluntarily disclose security vulnerabilities, in order to denounce the lack of security of certain sites or information systems, in the hope of thus causing collective awareness.
Finally, be aware that hacking can be a very lucrative activity, and some scammers do not hesitate to sell their service at high prices.
We tell you all about the main risks that can affect your SEO, and how to protect yourself.
How Does A Hack Can Damage Website SEO?
An important part of Web Security is to monitor everything related to optimization for search engines. Each of these aspects requires care and attention to eliminate all kinds of threats that may harm the good work done.
Therefore, this should be a daily task aimed at obtaining the best results.
When you are the victim of an attack on the web, financial loss is not your only risk! This can also result in sanctions from Google. You must therefore integrate a security plan into your long-term vision for your website.
Often, if you are infected with a computer virus, you will not be informed, and your site will not be reported immediately.
The risk? The attack is becoming more and more important, and the sanctions on the part of Google too. Your site could drop in search results, and your home page would look like this for users:
2. WordPress errors on your page
Another threat that affects your place in search results is the loading of your page. If you are the target of repeated cyber-attacks, Google will no longer be able to load your page properly, even if the hackers fail to actually take control of your website.
However, the loading speed of a page is one of the factors taken into account in its referencing by the Google algorithm.
To defend yourself, you can use caching servers. This solution allows you to improve the user experience, while earning points according to Google’s criteria.
To find out if pages on your website are not loading correctly or there are other kinds of wordpress errors on you site, scan your content on the ScreamingFrog platform.
WordPress Errors Can Be Of Various Types Such As:
- Error 504 Gateway Timeout in WordPress
- 405 Method Not Allowed Error in WordPress
- 500 Internal Server Error WordPress
- WordPress White Screen of Death (WSOD) Error
- Logout Error in WordPress
- HTTP Image Upload Error
- Pluggable.php File Errors & many more
3. SEO Spam
It is the most common cyber-attack of which you can be a victim. In a few words, hackers access your database and then extract personal or financial information from your users. You risk being blacklisted by Google if your attack is reported, but above all you lose the relationship of trust with your customers and users!
To control the security of your website and the confidentiality of your data, use WP Hacked Help WordPress Malware Scanner , and identify potential threats in a few seconds:
WordPress Hacks that can damage your website’s SEO
From devastating ransomware attacks that have completely stopped both businesses and cities, to massive data breaches that expose the information of millions of consumers, cyber-attacks have been news, but we don’t know much about the hackers themselves.
It is obvious that many of them hide their identities because they carry out illegal activities, but you would be surprised to know that there are many attacks that can seriously damage your website’s ranking.
The backdoor or “back door” in Spanish, is a method by which hackers access the site by evading security encryptions through wp-Admin, SFTP, FTP, among others.
Thus they can attack the hosting servers with malicious code involving all the sites that are in it, this form is one of the most used when committing a hack. Therefor it becomes mandatory to have your web hosting with a reputed service provider, guys at Mangomatters do an amazing job at this as they take security of their servers very seriously by deploying hi-end firewalls & other blockers.
2. Pharma Hacks
This technique is based on the implementation of malicious code through the download of third-party plugins, old versions of WordPress or WordPress plugins, which causes the web to send advertisement links to pharmaceutical products in articles.
Google can take this as a reason to block the website by spam, being a problem that can be worked by cleaning the files and databases.
3. Forced entry
Another form of hacking is through logging or forced entry, which is implemented with the use of automatic sequences to attack low-security passwords and thus gain access to the site.
That is why to avoid this type of hacking, it is important to have a strong password, block IPs, monitor failed accesses, authenticate the 2-step login (2FA) or limit attempts to enter the site.
4. Malicious Redirects
This practice focuses on the implementation of malicious redirect codes in the .htaccess file, so that the visitors of the hacked wordpress site redirects to another site.
This is possible through WordPress installations through wp-admin, SFTP, FTSP, etc.
This type of attack is used to steal data from the end user such as cookie data.
It usually occurs when a malicious script is inserted into a web or an application.
Normally this type of attack occurs regularly through plugins, so it is vital to download plugins from the official repository or from trusted sites.
It consists of exhausting the memory of the OS (operating system) of the web, these attacks are very normal in the old versions of WordPress, which present software errors, thus being able to steal all the valuable information.
Several sites have been affected by this hacking technique, causing a large loss on the economic level by these hackers.
Also known by the acronym JKS, this malware has affected millions of sites, but don’t despair. The first thing you should do is change the passwords and if possible, also the username. Remember that passwords must be at least 12 characters, uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols
This type of intrusion has no warning in the Search console until it is too late… like now. Malicious software creates new URLs with self-generated Japanese text and random directory names.
Those pages are monetized through links to affiliate programs, so the need for the hacker to take ownership of the Search console site to change international segmentation and present new sitemap to facilitate indexing of new URLs.
How to reduce risks and strengthen your security?
If these threats may seem worrying, don’t panic! There are various solutions to improve your cybersecurity performance.
Often, your most effective defense is to spot where your content is shared, and therefore identify the sources of malicious traffic.
If you find, for example, that your content was shared without your permission on a fraudulent site, you can file a complaint and report to Google.
Identify the robots that had access to your site, using the AWStats tool in particular. You will thus have access to a report detailing the connections to your website, but also the downloads made.
2. Use WordPress security plugins
Many insecure sites use outdated WordPress software and plugins, and they become an easier target for hackers. They can indeed take control of your website and send, for example, spam emails under your name if your software is vulnerable.
To avoid this situation, remember to update your plugins! Also download security software to protect your website, such as All in One.
3. Invest in Best WordPress security services
It is often difficult to analyze the history of a website, or to be up to date on all aspects of cybersecurity. Use platforms dedicated to the security of computer systems, such as SiteLock or Wordfense but at times these cannot repair your hacked site. So you have to get in touch with WordPress malware removal service provider with highest ratings.
These tools allow you in a single platform to control the security of your websites, servers and applications, and to alert you in the event of threats.
4. Limit access to your data
The larger your business, the larger your network. Humans make mistakes, so don’t increase your chances of committing one! Adopt simple habits such as limiting the number of accesses to your accounts, setting up a maximum connection time, and avoiding pre-filling your personal data on the Internet.
Also remember to encrypt your connection with a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Your data is thus secure and difficult to reach by potential hackers, as ExpressVPN offers:
What About GDPR?
GDPR” is the General Data Protection Regulation, the new web security regulation that replaces the “Data Protection” law and sets a new way of processing personal data for all digital players.
It strengthens and unifies data protection for individuals within the European Union. It imposes new constraints and rules, sets real sanctions and ultimately determines an orderly and harmonized regulatory framework for all countries.
We are armed to protect your website!
Good practices in WordPress security now have no secrets for you, good news for your SEO! Check out our WordPress security guide , WordPress malware removal checklist & detailed post on how to remove malware from a wordpress site.
If you have any questions or other advice to share with us, do not hesitate to contact us, our team of SEO experts will be happy to answer you.
Some SEO business models purchase WordPress plugins from plugin authors. Its purpose is to update the code to make the plugin add hidden links to the website under the control of the new owner. It is better to review each plugin and script used. Also to check the history of the plugin to check if it was hacked previously, through searching from Google.
Everyone is affected by Web Security. Implying that whether it is someone in IT or the head of SEO, everyone should have a say on working on Web Security. It is important to ensure that there is a proactive anti-hacking strategy, which is reviewed and updated.
Even if you may not see the short term financial impact of securing your website right away, think that it will make a big difference to your SEO down the line.
Any little SEO improvement is great if you can make it happen.
Since user experience is your top priority as a digital marketer, consider this variant of the golden rule: how you would feel if you visited an ecommerce website, were going to submit your credit card information. credit and noticed that the domain was carrying nothing more than HTTP?
If this scenario sounds scary to you, make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone who visits your site.
As you can see, making these changes in Internet security is not a matter of time, it is a complex process that you should apply with caution. Although it is true that if you have part of your website with this type of security it will be much easier for you to cover your entire site, the improvements you will find in your SEO will not be very noticeable, at least for the moment.
Although once the Google search engine throws the stone, it usually doesn’t take long to start giving it importance. So good luck with the changes to the first ones to venture!