Was Your Site Hacked? How to Protect Your Business

Web Design & Development

I own a now inactive popular economics blog, named Economic Thought, which brought in over 1,000 readers per day. It represents about five years of hard work and, more than that, it represents five years of effort I put into evolving my ideas. My blog was also my business — it earned me speaking gigs, like in Toronto and Madrid, and I earned revenue from affiliate programs. About two years into blogging, my website was hacked and I lost everything. It was a tremendous loss, both personally and professionally, and it forced me to start again from scratch.

If it can happen to a mere econ blog — I’m no Paul Krugman, after all —, it can happen to YOU and your business’ website.

A Hack Can Spell Disaster

Being hacked can cost your business a lot of money, and I’m not even considering the cost of fixing your website (if your website is hosted with Now Media Group, protecting your site is part of the package). How much can it cost you? A hack can dry up your lead generation and drastically decrease your e-commerce sales by affecting you on at least two levels

  • By reducing the amount of traffic to your website;
  • By throwing a wrench into your site’s conversion process.

How does a hack reduce traffic to my site?

A large source of leads or customers will come through your search optimization efforts. Suppose a potential customer finds your hacked site on Google. They would see one of these two warnings:

This is what Google's warning to your visitor looks like.
(Click to enlarge.)

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Would you click on the link to your site? Even if you did, would you trust that site with personal details? Who’s going to want to give you their email or their phone number? If you own an e-commerce site, who’s going to give you their billing information?

A hack can do even more damage to your business, because Google now actively de-indexes hacked content. In other words, if your website has been hacked, you might see it disappear from the search results. This doesn’t mean that Google will de-index your site altogether, depending on the nature of the hack, but it does mean that it may no longer show up on certain search queries that you were performing well on. In fact, Google estimates that 5 percent of search queries will be impacted, which is a big deal.

Even if your site doesn’t completely disappear, a hack can mean an important loss in rankings. We had a client who experienced a hack and we plead the case for bringing her site over to us so that we could take care of the problem. By the time she agreed, the site had already gone from page one to page seven, and soon thereafter was nowhere to be found. If you let a hack fester, your online business will suffer; and, the longer you wait, the harder it will be to dig yourself out of that hole.

How else does a hack reduce my sales?

Business is all about trust, especially on the internet.

Suppose that you get about half of your leads via emails from the contact form on your site. To respond to those people, you need their emails or their numbers. If they know your site is hacked, I question the trust they’ll place in your site to keep that information private. If you sell through your website, the problem is worse, because a hack implies that your website’s security is not up to par. Who’s going to give you their credit card number? Their address? I’m sure you wouldn’t give a hacked site that kind of information.

The customer might not even call your business’ phone number, because the fact that you were hacked undermines the trust that person once had in your business. They might, instead, simply prefer to go to a competitor.

Filling out a contact form, buying something from your site, all constitutes conversions — turning a potential customer into an actual customer —, and they are conversions that are no longer going to happen, because of the hack. That means fewer customers and less business. Do not let a hack ruin the image you’ve built for your business. Protect yourself and, if it happens — and it might (the tragedy is that we live in a world where there are people who dedicate themselves to hurting others) —, makes sure to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.

How You Can Protect Your Website

The solution lies with your website’s host’s support team. But, the kind of support you’ll get depends a lot on the quality of customer service, the number of clients they have to simultaneously attend to, and the level of protection you’re paying for. You’ll probably be better off with an all-inclusive service that can put all of their attention on you. Believe it or not, these exist.

To offer an example, Now Media Group’s hosting service offers a number of benefits that many hosting companies don’t provide. These include:

  • Nightly backups of your website, so we can restore your site to its most recent version prior to the hack.
  • Your site is hosted on a dedicated machine, so you’re not sharing server space with countless other sites, making it much more secure.
  • We implement additional security software and other measures that many hosting companies don’t.
  • We monitor your website’s status, catching and solving any problems early and quickly.
  • Our full attention is you and your business, so you don’t have to deal with irresponsive customer service.

The responsibility of making sure your website is secure is on us, so you can focus on your business while we keep your website safe and running. If this is something you’re interested in, please contact us with any questions. We are more than happy to discuss the service further with you.

If you found this article helpful, you may also enjoy, “Does Your Site Reflect the Quality of Your Services?

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