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Website Maintenance: The Importance of Keeping Your Site Secure

Written by The Branding Agency
mybrandingagency.com

You may have the best site, with great SEO optimization, stellar content, and innovative design. But, if you’ve not updated your site security, hackers, Google penalties and fees, and more can negatively impact your web presence and your business’ success.

From out-of-date plugins, to poor passwords, to weaknesses in server security—once someone finds a crack in your site, they have the power to sneak in and take control. Through gaps, hackers can insert harmful SEO spam, malware, viruses, spyware, and worse.

All of these issues can leave your site exposed and vulnerable to legal action from visitors to your site, and may put you on a permanent search engine black list, or cause you to lose important and sensitive data.

That is why it’s so important to ensure your site is adhering to the latest security protocols. There are a few basics you can take care of, to keep your site safe and protected. But ultimately, investing in professional security and protections is your best bet to keep your business online and running smoothly.

Here are a few answers to common questions we hear from clients—and important things you should know about the impacts a security breach, hacking, or spam attack can have on your website and business.

Why are hackers and spammers out to get me, and what are they looking for?

Don’t take it personally! Cyber predators aren’t targeting your website, they’re instead looking at your content management system (CMS) WordPress plugins and hoping to find cracks in your security. One of the most popular CMSes in the world today, WordPress is a prime target for hackers looking to boost their own SEO or to make extra money off your business’ site. 

A sure-fire sign that your Wordpress site has a security breach can be the appearance of strange or random ad links. If a hacker gets through one of your security holes, they’ll be able to attach ad links to your site—and get paid, if your site visitors click on those links. 

What happens if I don’t maintain site security?

Unfortunately, if you don’t invest time, expertise, and a little bit of cash into maintaining your site’s security, you are setting yourself up for some very expensive consequences.

Worse case scenario: Google may issue your site with a manual penalty, which can take you off Google Search for 30 days or more. And, that means anyone looking at search keywords tied to your business and services will NOT see you. Your site will essentially become invisible to anyone who doesn’t have your webpages already bookmarked.

When a penalty is issued, Google stops sending organic traffic to your site. If you’ve been hit by a hacker or SEO spam, you’ll notice in your Google analytic reports that your traffic will have dramatically dropped. A devastating hit to your traffic can occur in just a manner of hours, but the damage can be long lasting.

What happens if I do get hacked or penalized?

Managing a penalty or hacking, and getting your site back online is complicated. You’ll need to identify security breaches and figure out exactly how the hacker got into your site, fix the security issues, and then get to work on having your site--and all your fixed pages—re-evaluated under Google review. The review process alone can take weeks, and if fixes aren’t evaluated to successfully in place, you’ll need to start the full process all over again.

In addition to penalties, hackers can cause additional damage to your site, including: 

  • Site warning alerts and blockages. You or a site visitor may see a Google warning alert, when trying to reach your site through Chrome. A message reporting “Phishing attack ahead” or “This site contains malware” may pop up, when you type in your site’s URL.

  • Website terminator or temporary removal. Your website is taken offline by your hosting service. If your site is attacked, your posting provider will receive security warnings or notifications from site visitors, initiating security tools to kick into gear and take your site offline.

  • Performance issues. When your site has been hacked, or is carrying malware, speed and responsiveness can be negatively impacted and greatly slow down performance.

  • Wordpress email functionality cessation. If you have WordPress email tied to your site, spam and malware can also impact your ability to send and receive emails. (When your site server is hacked, your email can also be affected, too.)

Unfortunately, finding a pro to help you shed Google manual penalties and get your site back online can cost big bucks. Negative user experience, like the issues cited above, can be the death bell for your site. Visitors who are exposed to warning alerts, pop-up ads, slow pages, and other negative experience issues when trying to reach or maneuver through your site, are less likely to try and visit you again in the future. 

Help! So, what can I do to protect my site?

The best way to keep your online business safe is to partner with a reputable company that offers website maintenance, like our team at The Branding Agency. 

Knowing how much time and energy (and cost!) go in to fixing a security breach is key. But, knowing who to go to for help to protect your site—so you don’t have to deal with costly negative issues—is priceless.

To keep your site safe, we offer important services that manually update important Word plugins every week and run backups in case a plugin update breaks your site. For $150, you can subscribe to this service and receive valuable added layers of protection—and peace of mind. 

Want to learn more about how we can help you keep your site secure? Give us a call at (704) 800-7413 or email us today to learn more about how we can help improve your website performance with an in-depth site audit. Our affordable, expert services and helpful resources can get your site quickly evaluated and putso you can start seeing positive results.