Cybersecurity and SEO: An Unlikely Partnership

Website security directly impacts the SEO performance of the website, as the non-compliance with the security requirements can cause low rankings or Google penalties.

Steven Krohn

With Google starting to push its SEO algorithms to start heavily considering user experience signals this year, it’s a good time to talk about cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity has always been a factor in SEO to some extent. However, these considerations have largely been easy to kind of set and forget in the past. Now, with site experience becoming so much more important, cybersecurity is presenting new challenges to your SEO strategy.

Secure Sites Rank Higher

Ever since people realized malicious software could be transmitted online — whether to annoy, damage a person or business, or steal — securing your website has been one of the most important components of having an online presence.

Since 2014, Google has used HTTPS as a ranking signal in their search results. HTTPS is more secure than HTTP, and provides an added layer of protection to owners and visitors of web pages.

That said, HTTPS is not the be all and end all of cybersecurity — it’s simply one small, if important, piece of a larger puzzle.

Dodgy Back Links Hurt Your Ranking

Back link building has long been a cornerstone of SEO — getting other websites to link to you and vice versa. The logic is that if more sites reference you, you must be particularly relevant to your field of expertise.

However, unchecked backlink building can backfire disastrously. Hacked or compromised websites linking to you, and being linked by you, can drag down your search engine ranking. They also, obviously, pose a security risk to your website and anyone who visits it.

Auditing your back links regularly to remove unsavory sites can help tighten your cybersecurity while also boosting your SEO.

Website Hacks Torpedo User Experience

If Google detects your site has been hacked and posts a security warning on its search results, suffice to say, people won’t visit until the warning is removed.

And if they don’t visit, you don’t get traffic. 

No traffic, and your site’s search ranking plummets.

Even if there’s no warning label slapped on your website, word of mouth can do the trick. If people find out their personal data has been compromised as a result of using or interacting with your website, news will spread. Fast.

Suffice to say you will have much bigger problems to worry about in the short term than SEO if that ever happens. But even when the immediate threat is resolved, the ongoing damage of negative word of mouth can set you back years.

Cybersecurity Must Be Considered in Your SEO Strategy

Cybersecurity must be considered at every stage of your website’s development, and your content and marketing strategies are no exception. Systems in place that protect your site and its users from malicious attacks will also help your website thrive online.