Today, many companies have SEO interns onsite or a remote SEO team attached to their permanent staff. The higher you rank on the search engine results page, the higher the chances of your content, services, and products getting discovered by the website’s visitors. Discovery brings more traffic that translates to more clients and sales.
However, many companies concentrate too much of their efforts on an SEO strategy for their SaaS brands. They forget another essential aspect that has a direct bearing on the ranking, cybersecurity. In this post, we will explore the various ways cybersecurity affects SEO.
What happens when you fall victim to malicious actors?
When you fall victim to a security breach, many scenarios can happen. Some hackers target your database, and others target the HTTP and DNS servers. They may compromise your root using SSH requests. A cybercriminal can do the following when they hack your website:
- Use malicious code to infect your website. This can spread to all your visitors.
- Cause error 50x (also called internal server errors)
- Compromise the sensitive personal information and credit cards belonging to customers through a data breach
- They can also cause massive error 404 throughout your website
- They can also redirect all your traffic to other third-party servers, and
- Perform sub-domain takeovers or set up phishing domains within the website to trick your customers.
Consequences of a Security Breach
The consequences that emanate from a security breach can be massive. After a sizable compromise, some companies do not even recover. They close their businesses.
Loss of Files
Once a cybercriminal gains access to SSH or FTP servers, they can delete or modify the files related to the website and the data. This causes massive errors in many of your online platforms.
Downtime of a Website
This is one of the common consequences of a successful attack. Significantly, it is more common when your server is compromised directly by an SSH attack or a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS). This also affects customer access to your service and data.
Loss of Customer Data
Sensitive personal data like addresses, names, phone numbers, credit card information, emails, passwords, and bank accounts reside in the company’s databases. Unfortunately, most hackers are after such details to conduct secondary attacks like credential stuffing and account takeovers.
Damages A Company’s Reputation
Besides the technical consequences, the breach incident affects the reputation of a company. Customers and investors lose trust in your company. Financial institutions cannot extend loans and guarantees to your company. It can also negatively affect the reputation of your online brand, something that is hard to reverse. Competitors await such incidents to arise so that they can take advantage of them.
Cybersecurity in SEO How Does Website Security Affect Your SEO
Content Not Found Errors
Among the most common error messages online is error 404, content not found. It means that they did not find the content that a link or a route referenced. Besides the customer, Google and other search engine crawlers also notice this kind of error. That forms the basis of your problems.
Although Google tolerates error 404, it can be the main stumbling block to SEO if they are persistent in your website. It arises when malicious actors delete the files and pages, leading to isolations and links that reference content that is already deleted. Massive error 404 can arise if they delete many files across your website.
Penalties to Your SEO Efforts
Hackers can inject malicious codes into a website when they hack them. Various search engines do all they can to protect the customers from visiting such damaged and suspicious websites. If they compromise part or all of your online presence, you may suffer long-time SEO penalties, a cruel reality that you may have to encounter. If a cybercriminal hacks your server and distributes malware, worms, and viruses, they make your website less desirable to a visitor. Search engines like google keep track of such.
Getting Blacklisted by The Browser
Attackers can inject your web pages with Js, PHP, or HTML redirect codes. This causes them to be redirected permanently to the malicious phishing or spamming URLs or, worse, to sites that spread malware and viruses to your visitors. Browsers use various mechanisms like SafeBrowsing to identify suspicious content over the internet. If malicious code infects your site or redirects to a third party with a non-safe website, there are high chances that you may end up on the blocking list. Therefore, your visitors cannot browse your site in the usual way.
To a website owner, downtimes are the worst nightmare whether they run a small website or an e-commerce store. No one wants their site to be offline. When your website is offline, your recurrent customers no longer have access to services and products. Your competitors take advantage of such a misfortune to hunt your customers by offering similar services. Depending on the attack you have fallen victim to, the downtime can last an hour, a day, weeks, or even months. It is not good from an enterprise point of view, because in that period you can lose both customers and sales.
From an SEO point of view, when your website is online and running correctly ensures that the google crawlers can move through the content without hindrances. It is a critical issue that Googlebot cannot access your web pages content because your site is down. Google does not drop your website rank instantly; the bot returns later and tries to re-crawl to see if the page is back in the same day. Hours, days or even weeks of downtime can turn serious. They use it to determine the level of the drop-down that your site will experience. It means that although you will be dropped SERP rank, your website will remain indexed by Google.
It is important not to lose sight of the importance of cybersecurity to your SEO. Data breaches, getting hacked, and other cybersecurity incidents can harm your SEO efforts and lower the ranks in the SERP. Therefore, ensure that you regularly audit the security of your website through scanning it using vulnerability scanners and malware scanning tools. In addition, audit your network and server security. You can install an IDS (intrusion detection system) to your server to detect attempts to break into your website and file integrity monitoring daemon to check the integrity of various files.