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Is SEO Affected by Cybersecurity?

Is SEO Affected by Cybersecurity?

Site security is of huge importance to any business, and with online businesses focused on their reputation to attract customers, it pays to factor in how safe users are when using your site. 

Ranking higher in the SERPs and building profit are naturally important to any online business, which results in the need for SEO tactics such as link building and content marketing. But Google also takes safety into account, which is why cybersecurity is so important to websites today. 
An attack or data theft is not only detrimental to your reputation when it comes to customers and third parties, but it also impacts your organic search performance, so SEO and cybersecurity go hand in hand when it comes to your online success. Here are a few of the ways cybersecurity impacts SEO and why it needs to be a priority for your business. 

Compromised sites attract penalties

Search engines check sites for malware, phishing attacks and other potentially damaging software that can put users at risk of data theft or a negative user experience. It’s one of the reasons why search engines have made SSL certificates an important ranking factor. When a 404 or 503 error page is discovered, search engines are overly critical of it and punish the site as a result. 

For example, if Google identifies ransomware or DDoS attacks, it will issue Manual Actions to the site which impacts the rankings and could even result in it being removed entirely. 

Naturally, this affects your online visibility and reputation – users either won’t be able to find your site or they’ll be issued with a search engine warning if they manage to reach it which can put users off. In addition to having SSL certificates in place, you also need to invest in malware protection and make regular security checks part of your SEO strategy. 

Browser blacklisting puts your site at risk

Link building is a key part of any effective SEO strategy. As the link building specialists at Hive19 explain “earning high quality backlinks to your website is one of the best ways to grow your business. A high-quality backlink from an authoritative, reputable website will provide exceptional value to your business, both in terms of valuable referral traffic and increased search ranking results.” But over half of malware attacks on sites are performed by black-hat SEOs and hackers looking to take advantage and improve their own rankings.

One of the threats to sites is hackers injecting pages of your site with HTML, JavaScript or PHP redirect codes which cause them to be redirected to malicious phishing URLs or sites which will then spread malware to your users. This leads to your site being automatically blacklisted, often without owners even realising until it’s too late. Vulnerability scanners can help to mitigate the risk, flagging any suspicious links that could pose a risk to your site early on so you can take appropriate action. 

Hacker bots can interfere with search engine crawling

Search engines use a range of ranking parameters to index sites, from optimised content and mobile friendliness to links, user experience and site security. But it’s sometimes malicious bots carrying out crawling activity too, which can result in content scraping and data theft which negatively impacts your SEO ranking. 

If disreputable bots crawl your site, copy your content and publish it elsewhere, it can signal to search engines that there’s duplicate content on the internet – if they find the other site before yours, your ranking will drop and the higher ranking will be awarded to the duplicate site. 

A report from Imperva found that nearly 20% of bots crawling sites do so with malicious intent, which should be of great concern to any online business. The impact of nefarious bots can be huge, reducing the efficiency of your SEO strategy overall. 

Hardening your defences, protecting exposed APIs and mobile apps, and monitoring traffic sources carefully can all help to prevent bots from crawling your site with malicious intent. 

Final thoughts

No online business can avoid the importance of SEO when it comes to attracting customers and increasing conversions. But with any SEO strategy comes the risk of cyberattacks and threats. 

Business owners need to stay alert when implementing their SEO strategy, from installing security software to prevent attacks, to monitoring regularly for suspicious activity and paying close attention to the quality of your link building campaigns. 

Note: This blog article was written by a guest contributor for the purpose of offering a wider variety of content for our readers. The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of GlobalSign.

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