If there is one certainty in the world of the web is that your website is not 100% safe.
In fact, if you have not taken the necessary precautions then chances are you going to one day get hacked.
Now you might be thinking that this will never happen to me, but believe me when I tell you that websites get hacked all the time and it’s a lot more common than you would think. We speak to so many people that have had some type of hacking issue. Whether it’s a virus, malware or some malicious script, code or link put onto your site, it does happen.
If you have a web developer (who knows what they are doing) who is on your staff then a hacked website might not be an issue. But for the majority of businesses in Australia, this is a luxury and getting immediate access to a developer can be difficult.
How can you tell if your website has been hacked?
This is easy. All you need to do is type your brand name into Google and if nothing shows up then Google has de-indexed your site because of this issue. After all, if there’s a nasty image on your website (placed there by the hackers) Google will not want this in the search results; hence it gets de-indexed.
Another way to tell is if there is a sudden drop in your rankings. This is a telltale sign that something dire is happening.
What should you do if you have been hacked?
Well, the very first thing is not to panic. I know this is hard but you must be calm and follow these steps:
#1. Call the people that developed your website and if there is no answer or luck with them speak to your hosting provider. They will be able to immediately see if the issue is due to hacking and they may be able to fix this very quickly for you. What they will do, if they have backups of your website is restore the latest un-hacked, clean version.
# 2. If point 1 does not resolve the issue, try to get in touch with a developer that can actually fix the issue and prevent this from happening again. The problem might be that your website does not have the latest plug-ins and updates and was therefore easy to penetrate. These developers must ensure that they go through your website thoroughly, looking for any issues and making sure they plug these holes.
These are really the only 2 options you can take. Firstly, you have to identify the issue, delete it and then clean up the site and make sure this does not happen again. PC Mag tells us that whether your personal data gets compromised in a Capital One-style breach or your email password is exposed, getting hacked can be a nightmare. Knowing what to expect and how to fix it can help, but knowing how to head off hackers in the first place is even better.
If all else fails then you might have to get a new URL or website address and start from scratch. Obviously, this is not an ideal option but it’s there just in case your website has been far too compromised and you are unable to restore the site. Hackers may even extort money from you in order to restore the site but I would avoid dealing with them unless there’s some sort of iron-clad guarantee that they’ll never do this again. My advice is that when there’s really no hope it’s time to start again, unfortunately.
What are the SEO implications for a hacked website?
Basically, they are terrible. If Google has de-indexed your website and you have not fixed the issue then the site will remain this way. You will lose all your rankings and your sales will ultimately drop. This is a disaster if you rely on Google to generate leads or even worse if potential clients are searching you’re your website and can’t find it. Total disaster!
Another form of hacking is where they are able to infect your hosting environment and if this happens then your hosting company will take the website down. Being offline and having downtime is really bad for your SEO as Google takes downtimes very seriously. They want to promote websites with near-perfect uptime and if they keep trawling your website and note that there is a continuous pattern of downtime they will penalise your website rankings. Getting them back can often take many months as Google will want to see a stable online history.
In conclusion, getting hacked is detrimental to your business and is going to kill your SEO rankings. If you have been the target of a hacker the best thing to do is take immediate action and steps to mitigate the damage that it will cause. Search Engine Journal elaborates on this by telling us that Study Shows Web Security Directly Affects SEO.
As an SEO agency, we can also take a look at your website, its hosting environment and tighten everything up for you so you can sleep a lot easier at night. The last thing you ever want to happen is a site that’s been down for more than 24 hours. Longer than this, the damage just snowballs. Fixing the site is one aspect, the next is to have a company like ours monitor its performance and guard it against any future attacks.