Hacked sites have been a problem for years, but the issue seems to be growing. In just the past couple of weeks I have heard of numerous hacking incidents and site owners struggling to get overcome the issue. Wordpress seems especially susceptible to the problem as the themes are so popular that finding a way in one will lead to a way in to many. It is important to keep up with plug-in and theme updates and also build in security to your site. If your developer offers an ongoing maintenance and security plan, it is worthwhile to take them up on it. If it seems pricey, shop it around to others, but don’t let your site go without a plan.
We work with a number of developers with a successful history of resolving hack issues and getting business owners back to work doing what they do best and not worrying about disappearing from Google search.
Though I may complain at times about how Google handles things, they do tend to be proactive with things like this, and they are rolling out new algorithm updates to punish hacked sites and keep hacked pages from showing up in search. In Google’s words:
We are aggressively targeting hacked spam in order to protect users and webmasters.
The algorithmic changes will eventually impact roughly 5% of queries, depending on the language. As we roll out the new algorithms, users might notice that for certain queries, only the most relevant results are shown, reducing the number of results shown.
This is due to the large amount of hacked spam being removed, and should improve in the near future. We are continuing tuning our systems to weed out the bad content while retaining the organic, legitimate results.
Some may wonder how this helps the business owners who get hacked. There are a few ways this will help in the long term, though I know it still hurts for those dealing with a hack now or in the near future.
- Sites will be punished a bit for not keeping up to date and secure: I recommend to new business owners and site users all the time that they need a plan to keep their site up to date and secure, but many don’t follow through. With more stories out there of sites getting punished and the difficult and stressful situation that comes from it, the more people will be smart and protect their sites. Most developers have a plan they offer to help keep you on top of this. Like I said, I work with several that do this work if you want a plan to take care of it.
- Hackers won’t get the reward they used to get: With Google punishing these hacked pages specifically, there will be less reward for hackers to get on your site and add this horrible hacked content. One thing they gain from this is hijacking your site to get their own content to show up in search. This won’t work any more and hopefully in the long term will decrease the desire for hackers to do this.
Major takeaway from this announcement is to make sure your site is protected and always keep it up to date. If you can do it yourself, go ahead, but if you can’t, find someone that will. As I mentioned, I work with a number of trustworthy developers and am happy to refer you if you need help with this.
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