Domain Security: Why You Need to Know About SEO Poisoning

Hacking is not only exclusive to obtaining private files and compromising networks. Cyber criminals have now found a way to take hacking to a whole new level, which is, targeting the SEO value of a domain. This kind of hacking may not be as well-known as the conventional one but it is indeed possible to cheat the system and benefit from another person’s hard work in bringing raw traffic to a domain. A domain owner may have exerted their best efforts to boost up their SEO but unless they know how to preserve their hard work, anyone can hack into their system and funnel and leverage their organic traffic to steal their traffic and overall SEO value.

Why You Need to Know About SEO Spam

Cyber criminals can find ways to make the search terms originally intended to boost a domain to work against it. This is what SEO Spam is all about. It is crafted to work in such a way that a website’s search terms and traffic will work against it through site links which are infected with references that cannot be found on the website. Affiliate marketers should especially be wary about this tactic because impression-based advertising has dreadful consequences when targeted by this type of spamming. The infected search terms can create doubt among visitors by making the website appear dubious. For example, a blog with niche leaning towards food and beverage can lead to completely different ads when hit by SEO spam. Such unfortunate incident is sure to decrease the credibility of a brand and lessen the traffic of a website. The impact and value of SEO poisoning incidents can be summed up into three points: 1. Inappropriate search results which can result to bad brand reputation. 2. Economic impact such as reduced traffic, dwindling conversions, and high bounced rates. 3. Risk of being penalized or blacklisted by Google and other search engines. Because Google bots are constantly in the look-out for suspicious links and misleading websites, a domain poisoned by SEO Spam has high probabilities of getting flagged. As any web master knows, the efforts and time it takes to lose ranking is twice as fast as it does to get it back up.

How to Find Out if Your Website is Infected

Closely monitoring the performance of your website is essential to identifying if hackers have infiltrated your domain and milking on your SEO efforts. Once the key words which formerly worked effectively start dropping and the website rank decline in effect, the domain owner should investigate if it is infected by SEO Spamming. Another tell-tale sign is when unfamiliar phrases and links are associated to the website via search engine results.

The Antidote to SEO Poison

Cyber criminals using this tactic aim to discredit a website’s worth in search engines, the most valuable of which nowadays is Google. To counter these attacks, web owners should emulate how Google and other search engines see the website in question. Toggling to the user agent in order to see how search engines detect a website is one way of doing it. By reproducing the issue, web owners can find the payload. Another option is utilizing the Fetch as a Bot feature in the Webmasters Tools page of Google. By enabling the Google bot option as User Agent, one can get familiarized to a host of new issues. This method is effective because it has lesser chances of detection. Attackers do not put much value on the payload. The aim of this tactic is to obtain high ranking by stealing a website’s visibility and value in search engines. Upon reproducing the problem, web masters can go through the system by identification of the associated points of entry and injections. One example is out of date software. This poses software vulnerabilities which can be used by hackers as a point of entry. Keeping the website clean is a smart move to deter this problem but just as important is the manner by which it is cleaned. By faking a User Agent such as MSN Bot or Google bot, domain owners can detect content which would otherwise be difficult to find. It allows issue identification and replication and removal of malicious codes.

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