Your online reputation is priceless! Why risk it?

Your personal online reputation is fragile at best and depends on your online activities. Active usage of social media is enough  to form an online persona that may not be true to yourself or worse, be detrimental to your future prospects. For some, the activities of someone with a similar name may detract from your online reputation.

All dangerous and worrying from a personal perspective. Even more so as we age and the younger version of ourselves interferes with our prospects as potential employers do background checks.

But what about our business and particularly our online sales and marketing web sites? While we are mindful of portraying a professional image and seek to ensure that all reviews are 5 star there are other more technical ways in which we risk our reputation.  

For example, search engine rankings are directly related to our revenue. If we can’t be found we won’t make sales. SEO and SEM are huge industries as businesses compete to standout against their competitors and profits are being measured against ever increasing cost of leads. Analytics are all important as we seek to understand our customers, their demographic, where they came from. From there we can target the demographic that is converting best while stalking them with retargeting. This is all fine as long as the site is found, the user experience is easy and comfortable, and the customer feels secure and trusts your site – you.

If you sell online you know the importance of having an SSL certificate to show you are who you say you are. Customers know who they are dealing with and that their data is in safe hands. And it is not just shopping sites now using SSL certificates. The latest browsers are starting to show warnings if the entire site is not https and soon all commercial sites will have to comply to remain in the race.

What happens in this scenario if the browser shows a warning when entering the site? What if Google or Bing quarantine your site to protect their customers from a perceived threat? Your rankings have disappeared, customers no longer trust your site, and your revenue stops! Any paid advertising at this time is no longer effective as the warning stops visitors from proceeding to sale. SEO is wasted as well but at least SEM is not accruing costs as the site is quarantined.  If you need help with ensuring your site is properly setup for SSL please see here.

Google estimates that it quarantines 10,000 sites per day based on its own scans and Bing operates in a similar manner although the scale is not known. Recent personal experience with Google resulted in browser warnings which lasted for 2 days after Google claimed they detected links to harmful sites or downloads. They did not provide any evidence and cleared the site on review. Note that had we not detected the warnings the site may have stayed in this state for considerably longer. It was unfortunate that at the same time a sale was in progress.

The cost to repair a hacked site may run into the $1000+ range. This is on top of the lost revenue and loss of reputation.

So how can we protect our online site reputation and our revenue? Most sites are quarantined on suspicion as a result of malware, association with harmful sites, sharing the same server as harmful sites, or other suspicious activity. The following actions are crucial to ensure we protect our sites from being quarantined:

  1. Scan for Malware regularly.
  2. Perform updates as soon as possible after they are released.
  3. Maintain strong passwords for all users and ensure they are changed regularly.  Even better if you use multi-factor authentication eg. use a password to then receive a PIN via SMS which is used to complete authentication.
  4. Backup off-site in case it all goes wrong.  Before any major change – backup.  Before an update – backup.
  5. Host on a VPS or on a server which only has secure sites hosted.
  6. Invest in a firewall and security plugin to stop brute force attacks and filter traffic from known offenders.
  7. Check your Google search console regularly for alerts.  If you don’t have one, try search for your site daily to see if there are any errors or whether there has been a large shift in ranking.

There is cost in securing your site and protecting your reputation and revenue. The costs of outsourcing to a WordPress site care professional like ManageWP Australia is minor in comparison to the security provided. Most advertising or SEO budgets are magnitudes above the cost of site care yet they are wasted if the site is quarantined.

Please invest in your site security before it costs you. 

About:  ManageWP® Australia provide WordPress Site Care and Server Management to site owners and designers.  We also provide secure hosting and relocation services if required.  We do not design web sites although we are happy to make changes to existing designs where appropriate.  We will NEVER approach you to redesign your site as our focus is security (server and site), recover-ability, monitoring, and restoration.  Please contact us if you would like an assessment of your current server or site security or need some assistance or advice with your site.