Care About Search Rankings? DO NOT Let Your WordPress Site Get Hacked.
You know those “would-you-rather” quizzes that force you to choose between disgusting or ridiculous scenarios like being mauled by a bear or walking a hundred miles barefoot on ice wearing only a leotard?
Here’s one for you:
Would you rather be stranded on an island with nothing but bugs to eat and your least favorite song playing on repeat; or would you rather have your company’s WordPress website taken over by hackers, turned into an advertisement for male-enhancing pharmaceuticals and subsequently blocked by your potential customers’ browsers?
Both seem outrageously unlikely, you say?
Well, the former perhaps.
But the scariest part about the latter is that it isn’t all that far-fetched. WordPress websites are hacked daily. All. The. Time. Without secure hosting that includes regular backups and a comprehensive, ongoing preventative care plan in place, your company’s WordPress website could be at risk.
What’s worse, all the effort, energy and care (not to mention investment!) your company put into creating its website and optimizing it for high search engine rankings can fly right out the window if it is hacked.
What havoc takes place after a WordPress website hack? Here's an example of the many, many stressed and upset businesses who have reached out to us this year in a reactive effort to fix their WordPress websites after they'd failed to in preventative care.
Besides the frustration, time, and energy required to fix hacked websites, there are additional headaches and problems that stem from these types of unfortunate situations. Below we share a few of these with you.
Post-hack search visibility havoc
Intruders now use automated tools to crawl the Internet looking for websites with outdated or insecure software, such as WordPress themes or plugins. The automated hacking process continues by creating new pages in background areas of the WordPress site to take advantage of its existing authority with search engines like Google.
New pages created during intrusions often include low-quality and spammy content that is duplicated on other hacked websites. This duplication can be enough to catch Google’s attention and ding your company’s WordPress website with a penalty. Read: lower rankings for your website, and you'll never know it happened.
Other frowned upon practices are often implemented when WordPress sites get hacked, such as automated link campaigns and repeating keywords several times in tags. These methods combined with the nature of content itself may get your company’s WordPress website blacklisted.
Why? Because when this happens, Google will warn visitors via search results that your site is potentially dangerous or, worse, may completely block your website from the results listings altogether for users with “Safe Search” turned on in their browser.
Antivirus software programs like those from McAfee and Norton scan websites for these types of content as well, and can place websites on a blacklist. Because those attempted visits do not appear in any WordPress website analytics as bounces or blocks, it can be difficult to detect when your company’s site has been added to a blacklist, and even harder to get off the blacklist once on.
How can my company avoid such horrible things for our WordPress website?
When it comes to avoiding a website intrusion, it's a bit like preventing cavities and all the headaches that come along with them. Simply stated: prevention is the most powerful investment you can make.
We recommended the same simple plan to all of our WordPress clients, which is to invest in:
- A solid, secure hosting service that includes ongoing backups
- A simple, quarterly Preventative Care Package
Post-hack, it can be a long road to recover the rankings and authority your company's website held with search engines, not to mention the cost, stress and potential image repairs necessary. The simple 2-bullet-point plan above can provide complete peace of mind knowing your company's site will stand up to intruders.
Back to the original question
Now that you know about even more negative impacts of having your WordPress website hacked, let's get back to that first intriguing question.
Bear mauling...or deserted island?