Why Web Security Should Be An Essential Part of Your SEO Strategies
When building and expanding your site, you may be focused on creating the best content possible and using the best SEO practices to try and get the greatest reach for your site. Yet as cyberthreats become more prominent and search engines as well as the average user, are becoming more aware of cybersecurity, you also need to consider the safety of your website.
Data breaches happen, and they happen regularly. Nonetheless, you and your team are at the least responsible for making sure that your visitors, users, and readers, are able to feel secure when using your site and that their data is secure should you collect any of it (for sales, marketing, or other purposes).
So, the question remains: how do you protect your site, and how can it be done effectively? You aren’t alone in your goals, and here we would like to provide you with some vital information to start you off.
The Scope of the Problem
It is in the interest of your site to be aware of this as well. People are less interested in a site that could be dangerous to them, and they certainly are less likely to hand over information to or buy something from a site that they are unsure is safe. People will check to see if your website is safe.
A few statistics about cybersecurity to display how important protecting your website is:
• It takes companies an average of six months to notice a data breach.
• A data breach costs companies on average $3.86 million. It’s unlikely you’ll experience this level of loss unless your website has a very large following or conduct a great deal of business, but a bit of investment now can save you a great deal in the long run.
• Half a billion personal records were stolen in 2018.
Dozens of other statistics could be used, but the summary is that cybercrime is becoming more common, more expensive, and more threatening to websites just like yours.
HTTP vs. HTTPS
The first and easiest thing you can do to improve the security of your website is to make sure you have HTTPS protection. What is it? This link can go into more detail, but effectively it is an additional layer of protection on top of the normal HTTP protocol. With the SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate on an HTTPS site, communications are encrypted, so that anyone looking in on the connection (likely a hacker) will not see information being exchanged (such as passwords) and instead see a string of random encrypted information, useless to them.
Getting an SSL certificate for your website and setting it up is all you need to do, and if you haven’t already, then you will want to do so soon, as not only will it keep people safer, but Google announced it as a ranking signal if a somewhat lighter one. They also have a page on how to get a certificate, which we link to here.
Keep Track of How You Store and Utilize User Data
Not every website needs to keep track of user data, whether it’s contact information, usage habits, or something else, but if you do have data, then it’s your responsibility to protect it. Don’t share access unnecessarily with anyone, even people who work on your website. Depending on the purpose of the data, it might be best managed by an outside party that you can access. Whatever your method, remember solid security practices.
If your website experiences a data breach, then you need to contain the issue as quickly as possible, reach out to the affected parties that there’s a breach (a bad situation, but not as bad as if the information were to get out otherwise), and then redouble security efforts and remove the cause of the breach in the first place.
Understand What Tools and Plugins Are Available
You don’t need to patrol the borders of your website yourself every hour, so to speak. Just like there are security suites for home computers, there are plugins, programs, and tools that can help site owners keep information and their pages safe from outside intrusion and malware.
Ultimately, what will work best for you will depend on the nature of your website and how it’s set up on the backend, so, unfortunately, any specific recommendations we provide would either quickly become outdated or may not work for your particular setup. We do, however, have a few guidelines and tips to help you find what you’re looking for:
• Check to see that whatever you plan on using is regularly updated and make efforts to update it regularly (or see that it happens automatically). A tool that isn’t updated will quickly find itself useless.
• See what other people and site owners use for a platform or setup like yours. Don’t take a gamble on an unknown quantity. While popularity doesn’t necessarily indicate quality, something that doesn’t work won’t stay around for long. Read reviews.
• Avoid any options that seem free or too good to be true. If a main tool is free, how can it expect to have the budget to remain current?
• Above all else, remove the capacity for human error as much as possible. It is responsible for most cybersecurity breaches. It’s far easier to fool someone than to try and crack encryption. Tools are great, but only if paired with good habits and policies.
• Compared to general SEO costs, website security can be very cheap, and cost you far less than $1000 per year. Your mileage may vary a bit based on the size and nature of your site, but cost should be of little concern to you.
• By protecting yourself from cybercriminals and anyone who would want to exploit or vandalize your site, you are removing an element of uncertainty from your business plans. No system is perfect, but hackers aren’t going to randomly try your site with any vigor if there are easier targets readily available.
• Reviewing your security gives you another opportunity to review the structure of the site itself, make updates when necessary, and think about how it looks to your readers.
Just based on your own experience online, we’re certain we don’t need to emphasize the importance of cybersecurity on a general level. Using the above information, checking to see if you have HTTPS installed on your site, and doing some additional research about potential threats on your own will allow you to create not only a safer experience for your readers and users but also let you rest easier and focus more on growing your site and your audience.