“Website security” – let's be honest here: when was the last time you seriously thought about it? When was the last time you or your SEO team spent two seconds on the latest security trends for websites?
Companies might be spending billions of dollars on SEO right now, but a significant percentage of enterprises with websites don't even think about website security.
As an entrepreneur, you've probably spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the years on marketing and SEO, but the weakest link in the digital marketing chain is clearly website security:
The sad truth is that no one really bothers about website security until they face a real threat of malware or ransomware attacks. While individuals have several easy and affordable ways to remain safe on the web, small businesses and even larger companies see that as a cost they don't want to pay and a complex process they don't want to learn, so they're not willing to be proactive.
With this threat looming over every business and service site, it is becoming more critical every day to invest time and money on website security. Because if your website is compromised, your whole business is compromised.
The basics of website security begin with SSL/TLS on your existing HTTP.
What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS? As per SEOPressor:
This is the reason that you need to take adequate measures to keep your site safe and not just rely on HTTPS for complete site security.
Switching from HTTP to HTTPS is a simple step that can carry your business forward on Google's SERPs, because Google flags every site as “unsafe” unless it has an HTTPS certification.
At first, HTTPS was a lightweight ranking signal and then over time, Google laid more weight on HTTPS as a ranking signal. As of August 2014, Google announced that HTTPS is a ranking signal:
Today, HTTPS is the poster child of trust and security, directly influencing the UX and the SEO of a site. In fact, as of July 2018, all visitors to sites without a TLS certificate receive a “not secure” notification from Google:
These notifications have resulted in websites without the extra SSL layer seeing reduced traffic and conversion rates. Now it is safe to say that it has become a significant aspect of technical SEO.
Here are some easy steps you can follow to switch from HTTP to HTTPS:
Purchasing an SSL certificate is not that difficult. First, check with your web hosting company. Does your hosting plan includes a certificate? If the pricing and certificate type is in accordance with your requirements, talk to them about adding it to your service.
Alternatively, you can look for certificate authorities. Look for preferable pricing and certificate types. Next, purchase and verify your certificate. SSL certificates can be of various types, including DV, OV, EV, Multi-website, and wildcards.
Once you have purchased the SSL certificate that meets your requirements, it is time to verify it. The verification can take between a couple of minutes to a few days, depending on your certificate type.
After you receive word from your certification authority, download the files.
The installation process will depend on the source of your certificate. Web hosting services typically take over the installation and streamline the steps for the webmaster.
Here's how you can install your certificate purchased from outside your web hosting service:
The next step is validation, and for that, you need to log out of your web hosting manager and website editor interface. Then, check the address bar – does it show the HTTPS tag? Apart from the HTTPS address, you should be seeing the following:
You should use an SSL checker tool just in case to ensure the status of your website security.
Installing the SSL certificate through the control panel should switch your HTTP site to HTTPS seamlessly. Apart from the main site pages, you need to check other content that has links to your site:
Note: Keep in mind that your old social media, blog posts and embedded links might still direct traffic to the HTTP version of the site, so you need to manually comb through your past off-site posts to fix these old links.
Generating a new XML sitemap is no challenge. You can do so from your Google Analytics account. Check for the default URL of your website in the “Property Settings” under the “Property” option of your Admin account.
Update the http:// to https:// and save the change.
To update the sitemap, visit Webmaster Tools:
Google will take you through the next steps of updating the sitemap, including selecting the new site and confirming 301 redirects. Hit “Submit” once you finish making the changes.
Acquiring and installing an HTTPS certificate is quite straightforward for all website users. The steps we have described above are pertinent to all versions of WordPress and a few other CMS platforms as well.
If you have a reliable web hosting service provider, you should speak to them for quick installation and seamless migration of your site from HTTP to HTTPS by adjusting your hosting plan.
Attackers do not discriminate between sites in terms of their size and traffic for attacks. Here's how it can impact both your traffic and SEO:
Blacklisting – when your website is removed from the search engines index – is one of the gravest consequences of malware attacks. Since most websites do not receive any notification, they can be repeatedly targeted for ransomware and malware attacks. Several websites have persistent vulnerabilities that make them prone to SQL injections, XSS, CSRF and phishing attacks.
Not receiving any notification can mean a continual loss of money, reputation and visitors when Google spots the anomalous behavior and blacklists the site. Finding yourself on the blacklist is the end of all traffic and SEO for any website. However, it is one way to begin from square one with a clean site.
Scraper bots crawl sites to scrape content, block search engine bots, and engage in data theft. Your SERP rankings can also take a hit when scraper bots create duplicate content on another location. They can create 404 and 503 errors in your Google Search Console. They are responsible for creating resource intensive infinite loops.
Upon finding duplicate content, file a DMCA complaint with Google. Routine analysis of log files with premium tools can produce an exhaustive list of bots crawling your site. Identify their source to segregate the good bots from the bad ones.
Criminal hackers can achieve SEO spam through SQL injections, which can result in the blacklisting of your website or complete alteration of how your site appears in the Google SERPs. They can also reduce your website speed, which is one of the top ranking signals.
You need security plug-ins and SEO tools that can spot malicious activity in real-time on your site. Patching the vulnerabilities is absolutely essential. Check out paid platforms that offer wholesome monitoring of websites, such as Sucuri, an industry leader in WordPress security (it's a paid service, but they offer limited WordPress scanning for free).
At the end of the day, you mustn't make Google your antivirus. Google flags unreliable sites and blacklists the ones that pose a threat to users, but relying on Google's updates is not a proactive way to care for your site's security and SEO.
If you want to enhance your SEO and improve your website traffic, always begin with HTTPS. Then, think about investing in a website surveillance system that monitors beyond the SSL certification of your site.
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