How Cyber Security influences SEO rankings

In a nutshell, SEO focuses on increasing traffic of a website to have more visibility in the search engines. To do that, professionals usually focus on keywords, backlinks and page’s optimisation. The industry is still dynamic, and not everybody knows that one of the factors, which can influence SEO parameters is cyber security. This aspect can be a missing element for many SEO strategies, and we will explain what causes it. To fully understand the topic, you should also be aware of possible attacks and the motivation behind them. Let’s first break down the topic of cyber security.

Cyber Security & Attacks

Cyber security is a way to protect internet-connected systems networks and programs. The objective is to eliminate a cyber attack or to at least to reduce the risk and mitigate the outcome of it. The cyber attacks are created to access, extort or delete data. The aim of the attacks could be individuals, business or public organizations. To understand why the attacks take place, we can divide them into four main motivations. 

  • Financial motivation: Criminals are in the possession of undesirable data. They can demand ransom either from individuals or organizations. 
  • PII – Personal Identifiable Information: Criminals are looking for personal information. They do it to impersonate a victim or to get access to fx. credit cards or bank accounts. 
  • Intellectual Property: Criminals steal personal information about a group of people. An example could be a database of phone numbers or addresses. 
  • Revenge and amusement: Ex-partners, ex-employees or even political opponents can stand behind an attack. Again, to gain some undesirable knowledge about somebody and use it against them.

How to prepare for an attack? 

From a technical perspective, there are several ways to conduct an attack. A common example is a malware attack that may be a virus or spyware. It is only one of many ways to do it. It could be deceiving people to reveal some harmful data. Human errors or an employee’s misuse are also considered a cyber attack.  Organizations have a lot of tools at their disposal, such as identity and access management, but smaller businesses must also invest in cybersecurity.  To respond to these threats you need to be prepared. That is why Threat Detection is important. 

For an individual, the best tip is to keep the eyes open, making sure the internet connection is secure and always using two-step authentication. In a company, the situation is more complex. The efficiency of a cyber security system is often based on the maturity of a system and the experience of people managing it. The bigger the company, it is more difficult to control and identify an attack. If a company has a limited budget – it should assess its priorities and focus the protection on it. Educating employees about recovery procedures is a very effective method to start with. Ideally, a company should have a security team that has prepared procedures for a cyber attack.

Cyber Security vs SEO measures?

We have covered the topic of cyber security and how to prepare for it. Let’s look at how it influences SEO rankings. Several types of hacks can have a significant effect. Some hacks will cause 404 errors on your website, others will redirect your traffic or generate internal server errors. Leaving a malicious code that will infect people who visit your website can also be very harmful. All these have a negative effect on your ranking. 

But how exactly has it a negative effect? 

  • 404 Errors: Since your content is missing Google often lowers the ranking of your website, especially when it happens for a long time. If you have been attacked and most of your pages are missing – it can be a massive issue.
  • Penalizations: Google does not want people to find harmful content in the top searches. After being hacked, a website can suffer in a ranking heavily, which may take months to recover. This means that one of your SEO optimization goals should be security.
  • Downtime: This issue does not have to result in your drop immediately, but only if you react quickly. It is quite unlucky if Googlebot comes crawling the day your site is down, although it will not take actions instantly. It will come back a couple of hours later and re-crawl it again. If the site is still down it may cause a serious drop in the ranking. 

What can you do?

There are a couple of things you can do if you do not have a security team. In the first place, think of security as of your top priority and share that view with everyone you work with. Keep your software updated and do not forget about back-ups. Secondly, sign up for the Search Console. You will be receiving notifications and warnings about anything suspicious going on your website. Lastly, do not hesitate to spend some money on security software. It will save you some money in the long run.