Before knowing why cybersecurity is essential to SEO, let’s first understand what SEO and cybersecurity mean.
What is SEO?
SEO is an abbreviation for search engine optimization. It is an art of gaining a high ranking in organic listing of search engines like Google, Bing, etc. It is the process of optimizing the online content of a website, such that the search engine prioritizes it (the website) and shows it as the top result for searches of specific keywords.
SEO is the most important thing for a website; it becomes clear that the top five leading search engine Google results are clicked around 70%. So, if the website gains a good ranking and is selected among the first five sites to appear on the search list, it will gain popularity and success.
What is cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the art of protecting networks, devices, and data from hackers or cybercriminals and ensuring confidentiality and availability of the information to intended/authorized users.
Cybersecurity is the main focus of ranking algorithms of the top search engines. The better the ranking of a business site by the top search engines, the higher the chances of its products and services to be discovered by the visitors. But with the increase in popularity, the risk of hacking also increases.
If a business compromises with its website’s security, customers will never want to return to it. While prioritizing their SEO investment (search engine optimization), the company should not overlook the importance of cybersecurity.
When a business website become a victim of hackers, it can have below mentioned impacts
- Website traffic can be redirected to third party servers.
- Error 50X, internal server error can be generated.
- Massive 404 errors, content not found can be caused across the website.
- Websites can be infected with malicious code, which can spread infections to all visitors.
- Websites can be infected by phishing attacks to trick visitors.
Let’s see how a cybersecurity breach affects the SEO of your business.
Penalty and blacklisting –
Websites that are victims of cyberattacks are dangerous and risky for visitors. Cyberattacks can be harmful not only for the business’s reputation but also for its customers and business’s website search performance.
Top search engines like Google, Bing, etc., levies long term SEO penalties on compromised sites. They want to safeguard their users from the risk of cyber-crime. The integrity of the website can be maintained by taking proper web-security measures like securing with SSL certificates.
Search engines may also blacklist some websites infected with malware.
Dreaded downtime –
From a small firm to a significant MNC, all prefer their website running as fast as possible. A faster website means brisk business. Sites can be down for hours, days, or months due to the impact of cyber-attacks. Downtime for a prolonged period can cause severe concerns and start causing SERP (search engine results pages) dropdowns. When Google notices that the site is down, it recognizes that it has a security breach.
Content changes –
Cybercriminals have multiple intentions and not only stealing data. Most of the cyber attacks on websites are SEO based. After hacking, hackers use various tactics to modify the website’s content, like creating new covert web pages, addition of outbound links, show some different content to search engines, etc. Modification of the site damages the site’s reputation in search engines like Google, negatively affecting the ranking position.
Site reviews –
Site reviews are becoming an essential factor of ranking for search engines. Google prefers sites getting positive reviews, and sites having negative ratings are degraded. In this way, cyber attacks can impact your business SEO.
Hackers attempting to hack the website can keep search engine bots from accessing business sites and its content, in turn keeping visitors away.
How business can increase cybersecurity to avoid SEO issues
Prevention is better than cure. The business should ensure the following things to increase cybersecurity:
Scan site for vulnerabilities –
Vulnerability means loopholes or flaws in software, firmware, or hardware of the business that a cybercriminal can exploit to perform unauthorized actions in a system. Vulnerabilities can be managed only when they are discovered and identified. The vulnerability scan result provides a list of all systems found on the network, highlighting systems requiring any further attention.
Strengthen website security – First thing businesses can do to ensure cybersecurity is to install an SSL certificate. This security protocol is considered as a ranking signal by top search engines like Google. Businesses should ensure that they acquire proper SSL certificates for their website. SSL certificate provides security for online communications and protects business customers’ sensitive information like credit card numbers, name, address, password, etc. It enables encryption of data while in transit and protects it from unintended users or hackers. Cheap SSL certificates can be obtained from SSL certificate providers like ClickSSL. They are the official partner of leading certificate authorities and offer huge discounts on SSL products.
Business needs to take other security measures like having strong passwords, changing them frequently, using automated backups, installing firewalls, keeping software updated, etc.
Web security and SEO are the two sides of the same coin. In short, cybersecurity is highly relevant to business SEO efforts. Businesses should plan and provide appropriate time, resources, and budget for cybersecurity based on its importance.