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Getting Hacked Hurts SEO

getting hacked effects SEO
19 May 2016

You could spend countless hours creating compelling website content, building backlinks, and communicating on social media; but unfortunately, these efforts go to waste if your website gets hacked.

Why a Website Gets Hacked

Basically, if a website gets hacked, it means that it was accessed by an outside party without permission. The hacker compromises the website using malware, spam, or a combination of the two. Usually, these illegal hacks are done for one of two reasons:

  • The hacker wants private information entered by website users.
  • The hacker wants to redirect the website’s traffic to their own website.

Why a Hacked Website Plummets on the SERPs

Whether a website was hacked for its visitors’ personal information or to steal their traffic, the results can be detrimental for SEO. Obviously, if the goal of the spammer was to leech traffic from a site, this can have a huge impact on its own. However, Google also has spam and malware detectors in place that wreak havoc on a hacked website.

If Google suspects a site was hacked, they will display a warning message on the SERPs.

getting hacked hurts SEO

Yes, this is great for the searcher because they know not to click on that link, but for the website owner, it is just about as bad as it gets. Very few people are going to click on a link if Google warns them it might have been hacked. As a result of these warnings, most hacked websites see a 95% decrease in traffic. To add insult to injury, it usually takes several weeks to fix a website after a hack and then prove to Google that it is safe—so that’s several weeks where the website will see virtually no traffic.

How to Prevent Website Hacks

Even after the work has been put in to fix a hacked website, there are often long-term damages. Clearly, the best route to take is to be proactive. There are some steps a website owner can take now to decrease its chances of getting hacked:

  • Install Updates Immediately – Yes, it’s time consuming, and it’s easy to ignore, but updates are released for a reason. Hackers know that many people avoid software updates, so they create malware or spam code to specifically target the things this update fixed.
  • Automate Website Backups – It won’t prevent the hack, but if the entire website it backed up it will make life a lot easier if one occurs. For WordPress sites, there are even plugins that perform automatic backups that are stored on a different server than the website.
  • Actively Monitor Activity – Oftentimes, hacks are detectable before they cause harm, but this requires real-time monitoring. A reputable monitoring service that can keep an eye on traffic and pinpoint questionable activity is money well spent.
  • Set Up the Site with Security in Mind – Things like using complex usernames, placing the admin login on a separate URL, and limiting the number of incorrect login attempts can all go a long way in preventing hacked websites.

If you think your website has been hacked, or you want to take the extra security steps to ensure it never does, contact Zero Gravity Marketing today.