Why website security affects SEO rankings (and what you can do about it)

A few years ago I started a website and to my delight, the SEO efforts I was making to grow it were yielding results. However, one day I checked my rankings, and got the shock of my life. It had fallen, and badly.

I was doing my SEO right and I felt that was enough, but I didn’t know there was more. I hadn’t paid attention to my website security, and I didn’t even know that it mattered when it comes to Google and its ranking factors. Also, there were other security concerns I wasn’t paying attention to. As far as I was concerned back then, it didn’t matter since I had good content.

Obviously I was wrong, and I now know that if you really want to rank higher and increasing your site’s search traffic, then you need to understand that there is more to it than just building links and churning out more content. Understanding Google’s algorithm and it’s ranking factors are crucial.

Currently, Google has over 200 ranking factors they consider when they want to determine where to rank a site. And as expected, one of them is about how protected your site is. According to them, website security is a top priority, and they make a lot of investments all geared towards enduring that all their services, including Gmail and Google Drive, use top-notch security and other privacy tools by default all in a bid to make the internet a safer place generally. 

Unfortunately, I was uninformed about these factors until my rankings started dropping. Below are four things you can do to protect your site.

Four steps to get started on website security

1. Get security plug-ins installed

On average, a typical small business website gets attacked 44 times each day, and software “bots” attack these sites more than 150 million times every week. And this is for both WordPress sites and even for non-WordPress websites. 

Malware security breaches can lead to hackers stealing your data, data loss, or it could even make you lose access to your website. And in some cases, it can deface your website and that will not just spoil your brand reputation, it will also affect your SEO rankings.

To prevent that from happening, enhance your website security with WordPress plugins. These plugins will not just block off the brute force and malware attacks, they will harden WordPress security for your site, thus addressing the security vulnerabilities for each platform and countering all other hack attempts that could pose a threat to your website.

2. Use very strong passwords

As much as it is very tempting to use a password you can easily remember, don’t. Surprisingly, the most common password for most people is still 123456. You can’t afford to take such risks. 

Make the effort to generate a secure password. The rule is to mix up letters, numbers, and special characters, and to make it long. And this is not just for you. Ensure that all those who have access to your website are held to the same high standard that you hold yourself.

3. Ensure your website is constantly updated

As much as using a content management system (CMS) comes with a lot of benefits, it also has attendant risks attached. According to this Sucuri report, the presence of vulnerabilities in CMS’s extensible components is the highest cause of website infections. This is because the codes used in these tools are easily accessible owing to the fact that they are usually created as open-source software programs. That means hackers can access them too.

To protect your website, make sure your plugins, CMS, and apps are all updated regularly. 

4. Install an SSL certificate

installing an SSL certificate for website security SEO rankings

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If you pay attention, you will notice that some URLs begin with “https://” while others start with “http://”. You may have likely noticed that when you needed to make an online payment. The big question is what does the “s” mean and where did it come from?

To explain it in very simple terms, that extra “s” is a way of showing that the connection you have with that website is encrypted and secure. That means that any data you input on that website is safe. That little “s” represents a technology known as SSL.

But why is website security important for SEO ranking?

Following Google’s Chrome update in 2017, sites that have “FORMS” but have no SSL certificate are marked as insecure. The SSL certificate, “Secure Sockets Layer” is the technology that encrypts the link between a browser and a web server, protects the site from hackers, and also makes sure that all the data that gets passed between a browser and a web server remains private.

why is website security important for SEO rankings, example with http vs https

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A normal website comes with a locked key in the URL bar, but sites without SSL certificates, on the other hand, have the tag “Not Secure”. This applies to any website that has any form.

According to research carried out by Hubspot, 82% of those that responded to a consumer survey stated that they would leave a website that is not secure. And since Google chrome already holds about 67% out of the whole market share, that is a lot of traffic to lose.

research, how many users would consider browsing on a website that is not secure

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Technically, the major benefit of having Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) instead of Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is that it gives users a more secure connection that they can use to share personal data with you. This adds an additional layer of security which becomes important especially if you are accepting any form of payment on your site.

To move from HTTP to HTTPS you have to get an SSL certificate (Secure Socket Layer certificate) installed on your website.

why does an SSL certificate work for website securityImage source 

Once you get your SSL certificate installed successfully on a web server and configured, Google Chrome will show a green light. It will then act as a padlock by providing a secure connection between the browser and the webserver. For you, what this means is that even if a hacker is able to intercept your data, it will be impossible for them to decrypt it.

Security may have a minor direct effect on your website ranking, but it affects your website in so many indirect ways. It may mean paying a little price, but in the end, the effort is worth it.

Segun Onibalusi is the Founder and CEO at SEO POW, an organic link building agency. He can be found on Twitter @iamsegun_oni.

The post Why website security affects SEO rankings (and what you can do about it) appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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admin October 31, 2019 0 Comments

Using topic clusters to increase SEO rankings in practical

Topic linking comes under the wider term, internal linking. Internal links in SEO go to web pages in the same domain, internal links are considered to be of less value than external links. 

However, the topic clusters can be strategically used to significantly improve your site’s performance and increase rankings. 

What internal linking is

Internal links are useful for Google to identify content on your site. Google’s bots find new content by crawling websites and following links. It means that if you post fresh content and it is not linked to any other page on the web, it won’t be found, nor ranked. 

Google itself confirms that, saying –

“Google must constantly search for new pages and add them to its list of known pages. Some pages are known because Google has already crawled them before. Other pages are discovered when Google follows a link from a known page to a new page.”

How topic clusters work

While internal linking is quite broad, topic linking is narrower. Topic linking is simply linking posts with related themes on your website to one another. A simple way to explain it is to consider Wikipedia. For every article on the online encyclopedia, there are links to many other relevant topics. 

That is, among others, one of the reasons Wikipedia consistently ranks, not just on the first page, but as the very first search results for several queries.

According to Google,

“The number of internal links pointing to a page is a signal to search engines about the relative importance of that page.” 

This very fact is why the homepage of any website ranks higher than other pages on the website, it contains more backlinks. Therefore, an important strategy would be linking to similar topics on your website to increase their value and push the rankings. 

Siloing and topic clusters

According to Alex Bill of ClothingRIC, topic clusters are a group of articles that support a pillar page, with a purposeful linking structure and content format. There can be two types of pillar pages, a resource page and a 10x content pillar page which contains a mix of external and internal links respectively.

Let’s assume that you manage a travel website. You might have pages giving a general overview of different countries. Also, you may have pages talking about different cities. Siloing comes in where each page about a country contains links to different pages about cities in that country. 

Even further, you may link the city pages to “places to visit” within each city page. On and on like that, that’s how it works. You are basically organizing your ecosystem. Think of your website as a web. 

Using links for siloing improve your site in the following ways

  • Easier search navigation for site users
  • Easier crawling by Google bot
  • Strategic value distribution

Siloing makes navigation around your site easier for visitors. Instead of having to search for items on their own, the backlinks are there to guide them. That would make each user spend more time on your site than they normally would.

In addition, value is rightly distributed across the pages on the website. I mentioned above that the homepage has a higher rank than other pages, and one of the reasons is that it contains more backlinks. What happens is that value is distributed equally from the homepage to each linked page. 

Organizing topics with siloing

By running an internal linking campaign using siloing of topics, NinjaOutreach was able to boost their site traffic by 50% within three months. Using the necessary tools, they sorted out all their posts (about 300) into tiers one, two, and three. Afterward, the pages were linked to one another by their values. 

To implement the siloing approach, consider the whole website as a pyramid with multiple steps. The homepage is the first tier, sitting at the very top, then each link from there falls to the second tier and each link from the pages on the second tier falls to the third and so on. 

The link value is passed from the top down and that means pages at the lowest rung will have the smallest value. The main point is that siloing, when done right, can be used to push your most important pages further up in the pyramid so that they can gain more value, rank higher and eventually attract more traffic. 

Here is what you need to do

  • Determine which articles/posts should be regarded as a “tier one”. Typically, these are the posts that bring in the most conversions and traffic. Using Google Analytics or any other analytics tool will help you identify such pages. New articles that you need to gain recognition may fall into this category too. 
  • Those pages classified as tier one should have links to them directly from the homepage. That guarantees maximum value. You may also include some in the page footer. Make sure you maximize every space available. 
  • Tier two pages are the ones next in value to the tier one pages. Add links to tier two pages from the latter. You may follow the one link per 100 words rule. Then link to tier three pages from tier two pages. 
  • While linking, be careful to make the anchor texts and links as natural as possible. That is, they should fit their immediate context. Google’s bots are really smart and throwing keywords and backlinks indiscriminately might earn you a penalty. 
  • In case you are unable to find a suitable way to add links within the post itself, a smart trick is to create a “related articles” (or whatever you call it) section. Then add a couple of relevant links to that section. 

Conclusion

Topic linking is a smart way to organize your site and strategically position web pages to attract more traffic. Certainly, implementing this using siloing would not result in instant improvements. But like NinjaOutreach, you may begin to notice slight changes after a month of doing so. If it is not yet, topic linking is an important method to include in your SEO strategy. 

Pius Boachie is the founder of DigitiMatic, an inbound marketing agency.

The post Using topic clusters to increase SEO rankings in practical appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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admin September 25, 2019 0 Comments