The Importance of Cybersecurity to SEO

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According to data from Statista, the United Kingdom is projected to spend US$25,070m on online adverts in 2021, that’s a 13.6 per cent rise on the previous year and placed the UK firmly in one of the top countries worldwide in regards to online marketing spend.

Plus with 84 per cent of adults in the country logging in to the internet from a mobile device every day, there’s never been a better time for digital marketers to upsell their client base or onboard new clients who need to optimize their sites for mobile.

What many of us forget in our eagerness to perform SEO wonders for our clientele, is to keep an eye on cybersecurity. Or wrongly assume a basic SSL certificate is enough.

The reasons to carefully attend digital security are two-fold: Firstly, if a website is hacked or otherwise compromised, its SERP ranking is knocked significantly, not to mention the off-putting warnings users receive. Secondly, digital marketers need to protect their own business too, making errors with your client’s users’ data could cost you, your client, and their clients more than you expect.

How a breach affects SEO

Here are a few of the impacts on your company and brand you can expect if a breach occurs.

Dreaded downtime

Downtime means it’s not business as usual. Clients, whether a small e-commerce operation or a major multinational, want their websites back up and running as fast as possible. Depending on the type of attack, sites can be down for hours, days, or even longer.

In terms of SEO, a site that’s always online and running obviously pleases web crawlers more than the site suffering downtime or critical issues on multiple pages. If a bot crawls a site and finds everything down, rankings won’t be immediately affected, the bot might return later and try to re-crawl. But prolonged periods of downtime can result in serious issues and start causing SERP dropdowns.

404s

404 Errors appear when content that was once online is now missing. Users might only know 404 errors are attached to a site when they try to view the content in question, but web crawlers notice these errors. Google is quite relaxed when it comes to 404s, but too many and your SEO will start to suffer.

Penalties

Since hacked websites are dangerous, Google and other search engines want to stop users from suffering after viewing a compromised site. Long-term SEO penalties are an unfortunate reality for many sites after a hacking incident.

Blacklisting

If attackersinject JS, HTML, or PHP redirect codes to a site’s pages, users can face redirects to malicious content or sites containing viruses and malware. Ultimately, this will result in the site’s blacklisting. To safeguard its users’ devices, Google’s Safe Browsing helps detect dangerous websites and blocks visitors from accessing them.

How can digital marketers help with cybersecurity?

While SEO and cybersecurity are viewed as quite separate roles, there are plenty of crossover points. Digital marketers who have little knowledge of technical cybersecurity will do well to educate themselves on this field. As an added bonus to providing better service to clients, marketers who can run perform open port scans and IP block mapping, for example, also command a much higher fee.

In the absence of your own technical cybersecurity skills, ask the client you’re working with to pair you up with a cybersecurity pro. After all, if all the hard work and expense that goes into optimizing a site is lost because of security issues, the client won’t be impressed. If you suspect security issues but the client isn’t so sure, run a vulnerability scanner on the site and share the results.

Before rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck into the nitty-gritty of a site’s SEO, consider how secure your own device is. It’s always a good idea to encrypt digital transmissions, particularly when working on sites that may contain sensitive data. Using a VPN in the UK secures your device and closes off potential access points.

A survey by Ping Identity revealed that 78 percent of consumers would stop engaging with a brand online if that brand had suffered a breach. Losing customers or losing the ability to garner new ones is a real threat to digital marketers, which is also one that’s avoidable with greater attention to cybersecurity.