Malware Derails Your SEO

How malware derails your SEO work.

SEO train wreck

You’ve done SEO work. You know it’s not easy, whether or not it’s effective, it’s a tough job.

I know.

I’ve tried it.

I can’t do it.

I can write code in Python, PHP, javascript, C++, Phoenix/Elixir, but I can’t do SEO.

In working with many SEO experts, it’s a lengthy process. Many of them have their own “pet” methods. Titles, internal links, backlinks, keywords, longtail keywords, PBNs and list goes on and on.

Some say it could take months or a year to get to the first page of selected keywords.

That’s a long time.

What’s even worse, is many of the SEO people I’ve talked with are customers. They spent the time to first learn what works and what doesn’t, then create a strategy and apply it to their own sites. After all the time and effort, they finally achieve the first page result for the specific website.

They’re happy. If the work is for a customer, the customer is incredibly happy.

Then, one day, they look at the SERPs and see the dreaded, “this site may harm your computer” under their listing. If they click on a SERP, they get a big red warning page.

Actually Google and various browsers provide a few different warnings:

  • This site may harm your computer
  • This site may be compromised
  • Deceptive site ahead
  • The Website Ahead Contains Malware
  • Visiting this site may harm your computer
  • Danger: Malware Ahead!
  • This website has been reported as unsafe
  • Phishing attack ahead
  • Reported Attack Site
  • Warning: Something’s Not Right Here!

None of which are good. For the website or all of your SEO work. Your SEO work gets derailed.

It’s a train wreck.

You can recover it, but how long it will take and will it ever get back to the position you had it ranked as before are questions nobody can fully answer.

What’s worse is not finding the root cause – how it happened. If you don’t find the original point of entry (OPoE), or have a root cause analysis (RCA) performed, you’ll never know if you closed the hole.

You see, if your site is re-infected and Google blocks it again, you can get the warnings removed typically within 24 hours, but it will take longer to regain your rankings.

We’ve been “in the trenches” of website security since 2007. There have been many, many trends along this journey.

One trend we spotted earlier this year was in March (2018), we received 1,008 requests for website malware removal, all for lawn maintenance companies in the southern States. In April of 2018, we received 1,213 requests from websites focused on horses. Anything horse related. Then in May it was 916 law firms focused on immigration on the west coast. We consistently get requests from internet marketing companies looking to protect their customers sites. They’re looking to protect the work they’ve done for their customers.

These are just a few recent trends.

SEO makes sites more attractive to hackers

Hackers make money from your websiteOften times hackers get paid to drive traffic or to build links to other sites. Here’s how it goes – sometimes.

A company wants to increase their rankings. They hire a low-priced company to do it. That company farms out some of the work to other low-cost providers. At some point, people don’t care about integrity, they want results! They see an ad for someone offering 1,000 backlinks for $50 and they engage those services.

The blackhat SEO company goes to Google specific search terms then launches attacks on the top ranking sites. You know better than most of us that if you get backlinks from top SERP’s for a specific keyword or phrase, you’ll rank higher.


Your SEO work, that maybe took months to achieve is now derailed. When Google finds the site with backlinks to another site and they determine they’re infected, they’ll blacklist your website.

By making a website rank higher in search engines, you’ve also made it a target for hackers. If they’re looking to inject code on a website in an effort to infect the computer device of visitors to those sites, then they’ll want sites that have some good traffic.

If their intent is to redirect visitors to a fake pharmacy site, they’ll want to redirect as much traffic as possible. That comes from websites with high rankings.

Hackers love high ranking websites

I know many people feel it won’t happen to them. They believe that hackers only want the larger sites.

However, that belief, just isn’t true. As George Bernard Shaw once said,

Beware of false knowledge. It is more dangerous than ignorance.

Hackers love to make money, like everyone else.

They don’t use the same strategy as everyone else. They don’t care who they’re hurting. They just wantPeople think it won't happen to them to make money.

When you have someone who doesn’t care who they harm, as long as it benefits them, and you have a whole lot of high ranking websites who probably aren’t properly protected, unless it’s some “set it and forget it” free security plugin, you have a recipe for disaster – unless you’re the hacker.

Then you can look forward to a prosperous, successful campaign.

The move next is yours…

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