Domain Hacking: What is it? Does it Work for SEO?

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It’s understandable to become complacent as a search engine optimization professional regarding site security or just to say, “It’s IT’s problem.” However, SEOs should remember that inadequate website security can affect organic search performance. 

That’s why it’s vital not to ignore site security when executing a digital marketing plan with your team. 

To learn more, let’s delve into what domain hacking is to understand why site security should always be a priority. 

Hacking Overview

Hacking happens when a person gains unauthorized access to a site or network. Hacking usually occurs when someone wants to access private or sensitive data or redirect traffic to a hacker’s website. 

Some of the standard tools that hackers use include: 

  • Malware: This is made to damage or disable a network, with data breach as the primary goal. The effects of a malware attack can devastate a company, including massive financial losses and reputational damage. 
  • Spamming: This usually happens when a hacker puts hypertext on a page that links to the hacker’s site when a user clicks it. Adding these links on sites with a lot of traffic can boost traffic for the hacker site. It’s a black hat way to get site traffic. 

What Are The Effects Of Hacking? 

The consequences of a hacker accessing your website can be severe. Several things may happen when a hacker breaches a website: 

SEO Spam 

Godaddy reports that 70% of hacked sites were hacked because of SEO spam. This might be a planned attack to damage a website with authority and use its visibility and strong rankings. Usually, legitimate websites are made into link farms, and visitors may be misled with malware and phishing links. 

Malicious Code

This can harm your site if Google gets word of it. If that happens, Google will put a warning message when visitors try to access your site, encouraging them to go elsewhere. It also can remove your site from Google’s rankings, which is often disastrous: 

  • Visits: Your organic site traffic will plunge. 
  • Engagement metrics: Pages per session, time on site, and bounce rate will be affected, which tells Google your site isn’t valuable. 
  • Mistrust: Users who know your site may be less likely to visit when they know you’ve had security problems. 

Unplanned Redirects

Hackers may implement redirects when they hack your site. These send your visitors to other sites than yours. When your visitors are sent to another site, this is usually what happens: 

  • They find malicious content, including false, duplicate content. 
  • Other scams, such as phishing, encourage visitors to click a spam link and provide private information. 

If Google learns that your site has been hacked with a redirect, it can damage your organic search ranking. 

Backlinks

Search engines check the value and reputation of domains and links that are connected. 

When your site is hacked, links may be added to your site, usually ones with meager value, hurting your company. 

Blacklisting

When your site is hacked, it damages your reputation in Google’s eyes. This can affect your visibility in organic searches and can result in manual actions by the search engine. 

However, sometimes Google won’t spot that your site is hacked. This only encourages hackers to pile on and keep things going with more malware without your knowledge. This puts you at risk for even more losses down the road. 

So, it’s a catch-22. Being flagged by Google damages your visibility, at least until you analyze and clean the site. 

But if you’re not flagged, it can subject you to worse damage later. 

How To Protect Your Domain From Hacking

The good news is there are several good ways to safeguard your domain from hacking and hijacking: 

Choose A Solid Hosting Provider

The worst thing imaginable is to select a domain provider that gives you the URL for free or charges bargain rates. 

Cheap hosting providers almost always cut corners on domain security and use inexpensive hardware to store your site. Because of this, there’s a higher chance that your critical information will be hacked or stolen. 

Better option: Choose a nationally respected domain provider and host company. You know a leading provider of these services invests the vital resources needed to protect their customers’ websites. 

If you select a serious hosting provider to buy your domain, it’s not expensive, and you’ll be sure that your site security is handled by a firm that can take hacking attempts.

Register Your Domain In Your Own Name

A significant error is to have another person purchase your domain name. If you did that, call the person who bought your domain name and ask them to give you ownership ASAP. 

Not owning your domain can cause the domain to be stolen or hijacked; you cannot prove that the domain is yours. 

Even if you completely trust the person who owns it, they could be targeted by hackers. If so, you have no power to respond. 

Don’t Put Sensitive Domain Data In Your Emails

Did you know 25 million Gmail and Yahoo! accounts were hacked and marketed on the dark web? Can your email be hacked? Yep. It’s a slight chance, but it happened. 

Your email isn’t a safe place to store your account login data or anything else necessary. If you get emails from your host about that information, move it to a secure site, ideally in a physical notebook. 

Use Excellent Passwords And Two-Step Authentification 

An easy way to have your domain stolen is to use a weak password to protect your email and domain account. Be sure that you have a strong password with capital and lower case letters, symbols, and numbers. 

Also, be sure your site and email passwords are different from anything else you use online. And have two-factor authentication on these critical accounts. 

Now that you better understand domain hacking, how it happens, and how to avoid it, you should be able to protect your website and email accounts better. Site security is so important today, you need to make aggressive efforts to protect your website so you can continue to run a profitable company without serious financial and reputational harm for years to come.