Google has two main goals: the first is to make the online search experience pleasant and convenient, and the second is to make the Internet a safe environment for users.
Over the past few years, however, just as user behavior is evolving, so are the methods of cyber attacks. According to a recent study by Forbes:
- The average number of cyber attacks in 2021 increased by 15.1% compared to 2020
- Malware (22%) is the most common cause of cyber-attacks, followed by phishing/social engineering (20%)
- Businesses reported that they’ve experienced twice the number of cyber-attack attempts in 2021
What many marketers fail to realize is that cyber-attacks not only negatively affect your brand’s reputation and security — these also affect your SEO ranking.
How Does Web Security Affect SEO?
Google’s algorithm takes into account several factors when ranking content, and among these are:
- Website security: Websites that are hosted on a non-HTTPS protocol are considered unsafe. Some web browsers like Google Chrome automatically block websites like these, and this could badly hurt your SEO.
- User trust: If your website has been involved in a data breach or if it’s frequently associated with malware, users will lose trust in your brand. And when users don’t trust a website, they’re less likely to visit it — which also hurts your SEO ranking.
- Website speed: A website that loads slowly is not only annoying for users, it’s also a sign of an insecure website. This is because most cyber attacks target websites with known vulnerabilities in their system, which makes them slow.
If your website has a low security rating, then it can negatively affect your website’s SEO.
Black Hat SEO Techniques that Could Affect Your Cyber Security
In addition to the cyber attacks we mentioned earlier, there are also black hat SEO techniques that are a threat to your website security, as well as your SEO ranking.
There are two types of SEO: white hat and black hat. White hat SEO focuses on creating quality content that’s relevant to users, while black hat SEO uses techniques that focus on gaming the system.
More specifically, black hat SEO refers to deceptive SEO practices that are usually done by malicious people to trick search engine bots. Some of the common black hat SEO techniques that could compromise your cyber security are:
- Cloaking: This happens when different content is shown to users and search engine bots. For example, a website might show users relevant content, while showing search engine bots content that’s stuffed with keywords in order to rank higher in search engineer results pages (SERPs).
- Comment spamming: This is when someone leaves comments on your blog or website that are irrelevant to the topic, and usually include links to other websites.
- Hacking: Among the most common and possibly the most damaging, hacking happens when someone gains unauthorized access to your website in order to manipulate the content or redirect visitors to another site.
- Malware: A technique wherein malicious software is installed on your website without your knowledge, which can jeopardize the security of your website and your visitors’ information.
All of these black hat SEO techniques are not only illegal, but they’re also a threat to your website’s security. This could also lead to your website being penalized by Google and can therefore negatively affect your SEO ranking, as well as your reputation.
5 Cyber Security Tips to Improve Your SEO
Properly securing your website is essential in potentially boosting your SEO rankings. So what can you do to make sure that your website is secure and ranked high on Google?
1. Use a secure hosting provider
Make sure that your website is hosted on a secure server. This will ensure that your website is protected from potential cyber-attacks.
Some of the most popular hosting providers and are known to have strong security features are:
2. Install an SSL certificate
An SSL certificate encrypts the data that’s being transferred between your website and visitors’ browsers. This adds an extra layer of security to your website and helps build user trust.
By default, websites run on an HTTP connection, which is unsecured. HTTP connections send data in plain text, which means that anyone can intercept and read the data that’s being transferred.
An SSL certificate creates an HTTPS connection, which is encrypted and secure. This means that your website’s data is safe from being intercepted and read by third parties.
As we mentioned earlier, Google prefers websites that are on an HTTPS connection and may give a rankings boost to HTTPS websites.
3. Use a Web Application Firewall (WAF)
A WAF protects your website from common web attacks, such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks. It can also help to block malicious bots and crawlers from indexing your site.
There are a number of different WAFs available, both as standalone products and as plugins for popular web servers. Some of these include:
4. Keep your software up to date
Outdated software is one of the leading causes of security vulnerabilities. Always keep your content management system (CMS) and other software up to date.
By doing so, you can patch any known security holes and make it much more difficult for attackers to take advantage of them.
5. Use complex passwords and two-factor authentication (2FA)
Using strong passwords is one of the most basic but important cybersecurity measures. Be sure to use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols in your password, and never use the same password at more than one site.
Two-factor authentication, on the other hand, adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to enter a code from your phone or another device in addition to your password when logging into a site.
Boost Your SEO and Credibility with a Cyber Security Strategy
In addition to the tips provided above, it’s also essential to regularly monitor your website for any malicious activities or warnings from Google. This will help you quickly address any security issues that could negatively impact your SEO ranking.
Implementing these security measures will not only help protect your website from potential cyber-attacks, but will also show Google that you’re serious about providing a safe and positive user experience.
If you want to learn more about effective search engine optimization strategies, read our blog at https://www.ilfusion.com/blog.