In recent times SEO poisoning attacks have been on the rise as more people are resorting to searching information online. Hackers are coming up with new and innovative ways to exploit SEO vulnerabilities, so it is important that you are aware of the risks and take protective measures. Before we proceed there is a need to figure out What is SEO poisoning and the preventive measures you can put in place.

seo poisoning

What is SEO poisoning?

SEO poisoning resorts to a form of cyber-attack that is used by hackers to target unsuspecting internet handlers Attackers can trick consumers into believing that malicious content is trustworthy and relevant by utilising precise keywords and phrases to mask its true nature. The goal of SEO poisoning is to manipulate popular websites’ search engine rankings.  Malicious links would be installed on them to boast their placement in the search engine results.

These links lead unsuspecting users to malware downloads, phishing sites along other forms of cyber-attack. The websites have a convincing appearance as they present you with replicas of real websites.

How does SEO poisoning work?

When a cybercriminal wants to harm a company or an individual, they insert malicious code into the website that will redirect users searching for specific keywords to malicious websites. SEO poisoning’s goal is to harm a website’s reputation, whether it belongs to a person or business. They have a history of using malware to infect individuals and initiate ransomware attacks.. In some cases, bank information may be accessed to steal sensitive data from the suspecting customers.

This type of attack works by cashing in on the advantages of search engine algorithms. Once a user zeroed in a keyword or phrase into a search engine, the websites containing the relevant keywords will emerge. An attacker will create a website with malicious code that includes the same keywords as the original website that you want to target. Since the attacker’s website includes the same keywords, it is going to show higher results than the legitimate website.

  • Attack all genuine websites that are currently ranked above them with negative SEO.
  • Using the scareware strategy that alerts website visitors that their computers are affected by viruses. They get a notification asking them to download an online antivirus that is in fact malware

SEO poisoning can have devastating effects for both companies and an individual alike. Not only is it going to damage your reputation but it can lead to loss of revenue and lawsuits. It is important for companies and individuals to be aware of this type of attack and take steps to prevent it.

The ways by which you may spot SEO poisoning attacks

There are a few symptoms of SEO poisoning that you need to be aware of. Firstly if you notice a dip in your website ranking or performance then it is evident some form of cyber-attack has taken place. There is a possibility that your website may be blocked by Google or other search engines it is a clear sign that your site has been attacked.

An example is when searching for a trending topic that has generated a lot of attention your personnel have to be warned that there could be some form of an attack. The staff members should adopt a cautious approach if they are not familiar with a website. it is better to avoid websites that have a lot of pop-ups or Java as there are signs that the website is compromised. The Pop-ups on any website are a definite warning sign.

In addition, numerous websites frequently send users to scareware portals. Hence the security personnel should be instructed to identify potentially dangerous websites and alert the IT department.

The ways by which you can avoid SEO poisoning

In any case, prevention is a better solution than remedy. Below are some of the viable practices that prevent any form of SEO poisoning attacks.

Security awareness among the staff

Ensure that the antivirus software is maintained on BYOD and office devices are protected against poisoning attempts. The best course of action is to educate your staff on not to click on any suspicious links. They also need to comprehend if they are doubtful about a website as they should never give out personal information. Ensure that your staff is well informed about visiting an untrusted website. In search engines, they should pay close attention to the URL link.

Web security, malware and virus protection

Ensure that the IT personnel are maintaining up-to-date security programs which block harmful websites from a central location. Routing all the users through a secure web proxy is one technique that helps you to achieve the goal. You may also lessen the risk by using an antivirus or anti-malware software on email servers and used computers.

Disclosure of abnormal SEO results

Any suspicious website should be reported to the search engine if you think it is trying to harm your SEO position and get the result removed. There are a few things that can be done to prevent any form of cyber attack

  • The keywords should be relevant to your topic- If the keywords are too general, there is a risk of your content being lost in the sea of other articles that cover the same topic. It is better to be specific and focus on long-tail keywords which is less competitive.
  • Do not stuff keywords- When you stuff as many keywords into your content as possible in an effort to manipulate the system, this will happen.. Not only this is going to make your content difficult to read but it will also lead to search engines penalizing your website.
  • Conduct proper research- before you publish any content, ensure that you check out for any potential red flags that may lead your website to SEO poisoning. A mere Google search will suffice.

To sum up things by now you are aware of what is SEO poisoning.  This is bound to be a serious issue that can have a negative impact on your website’s ranking and reputation. You may conduct an audit of your website regularly to detect signs of poisoning. This may include keeping a sudden watch on suspicious activity.In addition, if you notice any issues with your site then it is better to conduct a proper cleaning mechanism and improve your site’s security.

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