For any company, organisation or public body, having a website is almost mandatory today. The only thing worse than not having one is having a website that is not secure.
We all know the dangers of having an insecure website. If you fall victim to a cyber attack, your website could be down for days, your customer data could be compromised and you could lose the trust of your customers.
If a cyber attack is a ransomware attack, then you may have to pay a lot of money to get access to your systems or data again, unfortunately with no guarantee that the cyber criminals will keep their promise once the ransom is paid.
Unfortunately, that's not all. Having an insecure website can also impair your SEO and marketing initiatives. Because did you know that protecting your site and your business is crucial to your SEO ranking on search engines?
In this blog post, we'll look at why good cyber security is vital to your website's performance and search rankings. After reading this blog post, you'll know both how to optimise your website security and how to ensure good SEO so you don't end up in unwanted or unpleasant situations.
How do cyber attacks affect your website's search ranking?
Technology is getting smarter as human life becomes more digitalised. But the bigger the digitised network, the bigger the attack surface for cyber criminals. And no one wants to do business with someone who hasn't secured their networks. Google is no exception.
When it comes to website placement, search engines prioritise user security. Websites with poor security are vulnerable to cyber attacks, data theft and reputation damage. Google penalises such sites and significantly reduces their organic search rankings. Moreover, websites with poor security may even be blacklisted.
This means you need to be extremely vigilant when it comes to your website's security. You need to train your development team in basic awareness training and cyber attack prevention. They should have an action plan they can refer to in the event of an incident, so that the damage is mitigated and your website's location doesn't hit rock bottom.
How do cyber attacks affect SEO and marketing?
Let's take a closer look at the impact cyber attacks can have on your business, affecting not only your reputation but also your SEO:
SEO spam: If your website's security is weak, hackers can exploit it for what's known as SEO spam. They can exploit your website's vulnerabilities to flood it with spam links and keywords that will redirect any user to their malicious site.
If you become a victim of SEO spam, you can quickly lose your website's ranking. Not only will Google penalize you, but your users may also get security warnings about your site from web browsers, greatly affecting your chances of attracting organic traffic.
This puts the site owner at risk of being blacklisted by Google. It will automatically add your site to a "blacklist" to protect users from cyber attacks. Google can do this without warning.
Bad website reviews: Website reviews are a crucial tool in shaping consumer demand for goods and services. Achieving positive online reviews is the primary goal of any business today, as word of mouth has tremendous appeal. The popularity of websites that write reviews confirms this view.
Reviews on Google Maps and Google My Business improve the SERP rankings of websites. If the website's customers or users are affected or notice security issues, they will leave negative reviews, which will have the opposite effect on the website's SERP performance.
The more negative reviews your site has, the more likely it is that customers will avoid visiting it, further affecting your search rankings.
Crawl errors: Search engines use a variety of bots for crawling, ranking, indexing and other purposes. As a result, some crawl activity on your site is considered normal. With advances in technology, some bots have evolved into malicious bots that disrupt site traffic.
In addition, such bots steal both content and data for republication elsewhere and look for vulnerabilities on the site. The presence of a large number of malicious bots on the site significantly worsens its traffic and affects its position on search engines.
Ways to improve site security to protect your SEO
There are many things you can do to keep your website secure online and improve its search engine rankings:
Conducting regular network audits. This involves assessing static and activity-related information for existing and potential security vulnerabilities
If you rely heavily on your website to attract customers or sell goods, then it's certainly worth investing in an assessment of the risk of security breaches on your website
Regular website vulnerability auditing. It helps identify your website's vulnerabilities.
Installing malware scanning software and anti-virus software. They will help you identify infected codes and files.
Use a data breach detection system. These systems scan traffic patterns and connections for signs of an attack and not only block them, but also alert administrators of the suspicious activity.
Use firewalls. Firewalls contribute to network security by preventing unauthorised access, unwanted traffic and malicious software.
Hardening WordPress security. It protects against cyber criminals looking for outdated software vulnerabilities.
Create an incident and response plan: An important part of strengthening any security strategy is having a proper incident and response plan in place. This plan tells all users and administrators exactly what to do when you are attacked and how to prevent too much damage to your site and your sensitive information
How to make Google's search engine happy
SEO is an acronym for the English term "Search Engine Optimization". It translates into English as "search engine optimization".
When you do a search on Google (or any other search engine), you will see a series of results determined by which words or queries you searched for. Here, Google's algorithm ranks the search results according to what is most relevant based on your search query.
SEO is a method that can help you rank at the top of organic search results. With SEO, you can connect users' searches on a search engine with your website and increase your website traffic.
SEO is therefore one of the tools in online marketing that can deliver the absolute best results, the most customers and is the cheapest to maintain in the long run.
Here we give you 10 tips on how to create good SEO.
1. SEO is about people
SEO is sometimes targeted more at people than it is at search engines. After all, it is people who use search engines. That's why it's important to consider people and their mindsets when working with SEO.
To rank high in Google's search results, it's important that your users have the questions they're looking for answered when they come from the search engine and onto your website.
Therefore, you need to figure out what questions your website needs to answer and design your website so that it actually answers those questions.
You need to give your users value and make them feel that your website is relevant. It needs to match exactly what users are looking for.
2. Do a keyword analysis to find the right keywords
Keywords are very important in SEO as you need to know which keywords your users are searching for so you can incorporate them into your website. If you have a lot of good and relevant keywords on your website, you will rank higher in Google.
3. Create a sitemap for your website
It is a great help for Google and other search engines that you make a sitemap on your website. A sitemap is a kind of list of your pages that are indexed. A sitemap gives search engines information about your website, which makes it easier for search engines to find your content.
4. Your website should provide a good user experience
A good user experience is fundamental to ranking well on search engines. Your website should have an easy structure and good design. It should be user-friendly and give a professional impression to visitors.
In addition, your website should have a short loading time and not have too many technical errors, as this is evaluated negatively both by users and by Google. It goes without saying that usability also applies to the mobile version of your website.
5. Create good and relevant content
It's good to have a lot of content on your website, but it has to be good content. When it comes to SEO, it's better to have quality than quantity.
Many people may think that you should just fill your hwebsite texts with keywords. But it's mostly about writing good and relevant content that is natural and makes sense to users. Of course, you still need to use keywords so that a search engine knows what the website is about.
You need to make sure that the content on your website matches the intent of the keywords being searched for. The content should fit your product, your brand, your mission and your target audience.
6. Get your users to take action
After your website is technically ready and relevant and sharp content with good keywords has been created, you need to make sure that you motivate your users or customers to take action when they are on the website. You need to create Call-To-Actions that tell people what to do, so they actually do it.
7. Use good links
Link building is a great way to rank higher in Google, as it gives your website authority in Google's eyes. If many people link to your site, it must be good! There are several ways you can build links.
It's good to have lots of backlinks. Backlinks are external links that are on other websites that link to your website. It is a way of recommending selected sites over others. You can also benefit from internal links, which are links on your own website that link to different sub-pages on your website. This way, a user can stay on your website for a longer period of time.
8. Page titles and meta descriptions should be catchy
Before users even get to your website, they need to assess which page on Google's search results looks best. That's why it's essential that your page titles and meta descriptions are sharp and catchy, so they choose your website.
Page titles and meta descriptions are the first impression users get of your website. They are important for your CTR (click through rate), i.e. how many people choose to click on your website among all the search results in a search engine. It is important to have a high CTR.
9. Use your social media
SEO can do a lot, and you can be very creative with your SEO.
SEO is about optimisation on the internet and is used in digital marketing. That's why it's a great idea to use social media to boost your SEO.
By making SEO and your social media work together, you have an even greater potential to reach far and engage a larger audience, which can help bring you more traffic and conversions on your website.
10. Make use of good and ethical SEO
You can do SEO both a good way and a bad way. When you do it the good way, you are following Google's search engine optimization guidelines. If you don't follow the guidelines, you can be penalized by Google and drop in rankings
If you try to cheat Google by performing "black hat SEO", you may rank high at first, but as soon as Google finds out that you are not following the guidelines, your website will be penalised
You should not create websites or profiles on websites that only aim to link to your main website. When people do this, the "fake" websites typically have no relevance to your main website, and Google will often not see the many backlinks as something positive.
You should also refrain from buying links, as you will be severely penalised by Google if it is detected.
As you now know, cyber attacks can destroy even the most resilient businesses. Therefore, it is crucial to optimise the cybersecurity of your website and consistently monitor suspicious activity to save your reputation, vulnerable customer data and stay at the top of search engines.
About the author
Sofie Meyer is a copywriter and phishing aficionado here at Moxso. She has a master´s degree in Danish and a great interest in cybercrime, which resulted in a master thesis project on phishing.