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If you're putting together a list of all the components of a successful SEO strategy, there's a decent chance website security probably isn't on it.

After all, how is website security going to boost your placement in the SERPs?

Good SEO isn't just about climbing the ranks; it's about staying there. And how well secured your website is can have a profound impact on your rankings.

Recently, tech blog CenterNetworks migrated to WordPress from Drupal. As part of the conversion, several of CenterNetworks' sites were hit by an exploit. The result? CenterNetworks' Allen Stern explains:

This other site apparently lost most of its “Google Juice” which resulted in a major reduction in organic search site traffic. Here’s a graph of the before, during and after.

At the lowest point, nearly 70% of Google-referral traffic to the site in question was lost. As you can see from the chart above, slowly the Google Juice has been restored and we are back to normal traffic today. Phew, at least now I can get the investors off my back.

Ouch. While Stern doesn't provide any detail on what the exploit was, the message is clear: if you're hacked, the SEO ramifications can be very painful. Even a temporary drop in traffic from search engines can have real consequences and since there's really no way to control when and how long it will take you to recover, the best policy is to treat the security of your website as an important part of your SEO strategy, remembering that a good defense can be a good offense.

Here are some tips for securing your website:

  • If you use third party applications (like WordPress), pay attention to new releases. When they include patches for security vulnerabilities, upgrade as soon as possible because by the time a vulnerability is known, chances are somebody is out there exploiting it.
  • Make sure your developers are doing the basics. This includes escaping input and output, adding nofollow to links in user-generated content, etc.
  • Hire a competent sysadmin. If your server or hosting account itself is compromised, anything can happen. So make sure somebody is looking out for your hosting setup.
  • Keep backups. In the worst case scenario, a hack could result in a complete loss of your content/data. Since that's the driver for your SERPs, you don't want to risk losing it.

Photo credit: CarbonNYC via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 8 May, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2391 more posts from this author

Comments (8)

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Gary

I like the tie up between security and SEO. Certainly, from my experience, security is often not given the planning and effort necessitated to secure websites and blogs.

over 7 years ago

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Maneet Puri

Great pot. I guess everyone is so chasing SEO that they forget tp take care of website security. I like the way you have illustarted that website security is what protects the very basic component of SEO i.e. the content.

over 7 years ago

Alec Kinnear

Alec Kinnear, Creative Director at Foliovision

If one is building serious ecommerce sites, there is no way one can constantly upgrade Wordpress (they don't issue security releases, they force full core code upgrades which break plugins) every time Automattic issues a release.

Key is to be on a very tight server with very tight security rules and which is watched like a hawk. Great backups are also highly recommended, both online and offline. Pull the whole damn thing local at least once a month.

But good theme for an article. Unfortunately website security is as big a subject as SEO. It goes on forever.

over 7 years ago

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John Hoff - WpBlogHost

Excellent article. We've been preaching for a long time about website security (more on WordPress than anything else).

No one ever really thinks about it until something happens to them. The probelm is, many times you won't even know you're hacked until Google begins notifying you that your website appears to be a spam site and is breaking their Search Engine rules.

A great way to help reduce the chances of your blog getting hacked is to customize it some (make it less cookie cutter). Also, there are plugins like Login Lockdown and WordPress Firewall which help block intruders.

Another great plugin is the Event Viewer. It lists every little change your WordPress site does. So if someone hacks your site and adds some code or links, it will be logged.

over 7 years ago

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farouk

this makes a lot of sense especially that a signle security hole can take a website down

over 7 years ago

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venkat

I have backup my data from blogger.

over 7 years ago

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Jonathon Narvey

Excellent topic. Without web security, SEO just turns your blog or website into a great malware magnet. Here's a great article on a related topic of web security for your blog: http://www.boonbox.net/csi/cyber-security-informer-5-5-09.htm

over 7 years ago

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Phil

Good to see someone is thinking about security

about 7 years ago

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