SEOs and webmasters spend their days, and quite often their nights, working to optimize their websites for better online visibility. They routinely labor over creating authoritative online content, building reputable links, and generally developing sites that deliver a quality experience for internet users. All of this work is not only necessary to deliver quality online content, but also to secure some prime SERP real estate for their client’s websites. But the result of all those hours of intense labor can be reduced to nothing if the site is vulnerable to being hacked. Make no mistake, site hackers are only too willing to slip in via an unguarded backdoor to either leach off of a website’s hard earned online reputation, or to sabotage the site itself.
Hackers and SEO Damage
Hackers typically cause damage to an otherwise reputable website by inserting hidden code designed to steal traffic, and redirect it to a destination of the hacker’s own choosing. The bad links that hackers install often go unnoticed by both the webmaster and the site’s visitors until it’s too late, and the attacked website has lost page ranking and has earned a number of malware warnings. Remember, even if you haven’t detected the hacker’s code, search engines will, and the penalties will start mounting. Hackers and black hat SEOs generally use these techniques to make money by stealing a reputable website’s traffic. But hacking a website can also be used to attack a competitors site with the sole intention of irreparably damaging their reputation and causing their page ranking to plummet. That’s why it is imperative for SEOs and webmasters to remain vigilant, and to police their sites on a regular basis.
Let’s look at a few ways webmasters and SEOs can maintain their site’s security in a black hat environment.
Constant Vigilance is Vital
The first step in protecting any website from attack is to stay vigilant. Anyone running a website needs to routinely monitor its performance, and take note of any strange or unexpected behavior. That means regularly checking the website for possible security breaches, with an eye towards hidden code, redirects or hidden links. Remember, hackers may hide a bad link in a title or image, or may simply hijack an existing link and redirect it to an undesirable location. Constant vigilance is the key, and webmasters should make it a rule to regularly inspect their websites for any possible breaches of security.
Plug-ins and Updates
Plug-ins are often a vulnerable area for any website, and it is important to keep on top of all updates and modifications for the plug-ins you rely on for your website’s performance. Even if you use a content management system like WordPress, your site may still be vulnerable to attack through any secondary updates for the plug-ins you’ve installed. The better content management systems keep track of modifications and routinely look for, and install, recommended updates. However, updates for some secondary modifications can be missed by even the best content management systems, so it is vital for webmasters to stay on top of their site’s plug-ins to ensure that they are updated and that all security loopholes remain closed.
Take Advantage of Google’s Webmaster Tools
With Google’s Webmaster Tools website owners can manage, and restrict, who is authorized to modify their websites. Owners can also monitor their sites to ensure that no unwanted changes have taken place. Website owners can use Webmaster Tools to check their site’s crawl rates to see if they have been lowered by a hacker, and can check the configuration of their site’s URLs to see if any have been removed, or redirected.
A hacker can have a serious impact on a website’s online reputation, and can cause a site to lose visitors and to suffer penalties from the automatic search engine filters. Recovering from an attack is a long and arduous process. The best cure for a hacking is prevention. SEOs and webmasters need to take action to protect their sites today, before any black hat hackers can find a vulnerability they can exploit. By staying vigilant, and taking a proactive stance, website owners and SEOs can protect the reputation of their sites, and hang on to their hard earned page ranking.
Take a look at this Interview with a Blackhat and triple threat all your security today!