If you’re creating great content for your readers, ensuring you have the right keywords, and checking your meta titles and descriptions, you probably assume you’re doing everything right when it comes to SEO. Well, almost everything. Google has different ranking factors, and there’s one area that some digital marketers overlook. How much time have you spent lately on your website’s security?

There’s a lot on your website that you need to optimize, and with so many different factors impacting SEO, chances are you’re going to miss at least one of them. It happens. But the biggest problem with overlooking security is it can have a very negative impact on your SEO rankings.

There are now more than 200 ranking factors that Google considers when determining where to rank a site, and how well protected your site is remains a top priority. Google has no interest in sending readers to an unsecured site. So, it’s important to understand the security risks facing your website, and the simple steps you can take to ensure that all the work you’ve done on content and SEO optimization doesn’t get wiped out by a security lapse.  

Why Does Website Security Affect SEO Rankings?

This isn’t a new issue. In February 2018, Google announced that sites would soon get marked as “not secure” if they still had an HTTP encryption. In an effort to transition toward a more secure web, Google pushed for an  HTTPS encryption — or Hypertext transfer protocol secure, a more secure version of HTTP. 

HTTPS offers new features that were too sensitive for HTTP, and the end result is that anyone who wants organic traffic or high rankings needed to go to HTTPS, or risk having their readers scared off by seeing the “Not Secure” warning next to the link for your site and content.

Since Google rankings are critical for determining how much traffic your website gets, becoming truly SEO compliant now means taking the time to be certain your site and content are well protected. 

So how can hackers affect your SEO?

One way is to add links to your website that contain malicious content. If hackers put malicious content onto your site, there’s the potential for your users to click on it, putting their own security at risk. And that can result in your site getting or lower rankings or even getting removed from Google search results to protect users. 

Hackers also use “redirects,” which send your users to another site once they click on the link to your page. Those redirects are a major source of phishing scams, or in other instances, hackers try to replicate the content of your site to trick users into sharing their personal information.

Scams can also be done through backlinks. While some people assume that when it comes to getting backlinks, the more the merrier, but that’s only true about the ones from reputable sources. The ones with malicious content can lead to a Google penalty that hurts your overall SEO efforts. It’s called a Negative SEO attack — when your website gets flooded with backlinks from suspicious sources in an attempt to weaken your SEO position and hurt your credibility with Google.

How You Can Protect Your Website From Hackers

Fortunately, you don’t have to go out and spend thousands on a sophisticated web development team. You can prevent damage to your website and reduce the chance of hacking causing havoc to your site in some simple ways.

  1. Find a Secure Web Host

A secure and well-protected web host does the work for you, ensuring there are no vulnerabilities that leave you open to a cyberattack. A secure host will offer you additional options, like malware protection and a back up for your data.

  1. Use Secure Passwords

If your login information is shared too easily with others, or if you use common passwords that are easy for hackers to figure out, your site becomes endangered. Avoid at all costs easy-to-remember passwords like 12345. Try to make your passwords as original and complex as possible, and steer clear of usernames like “admin.” 

  1. Keep Your Own Backup

With the risk of your website being hacked, it’s crucial to have a backup ready to use if needed. That’s a good way to minimize any SEO damage the hackers can cause since you can quickly replace your files and database with the backed-up version. You’ll also want to quickly change your login information to stop the hack from happening a second time. Sites like WordPress have plugins you can use to back up your files and database. 

The bottom line is there are hundreds of free security services you can use. Security lapses can affect your SEO rankings in plenty of direct and indirect ways, but there are systems and tools available to make your site safer for your own SEO efforts — and for your users.

Protecting Your Content and SEO From Negative SEO

Unfortunately today, Negative SEO is a genuine threat, and it’s much easier to prevent it than to fix the problems afterward. But if you take concrete steps today to enhance the security of your website, you can go back to focusing on creating great content for your site.

If you’re not certain about how to create the best possible content that’s going to boost your SEO and lead to higher rankings, we can help. At Market My Market, we collaborate closely with our clients to demonstrate the best ways to create content that improves the user experience for consumers. Contact us today for a free marketing consultation.