By Ava Bavaro
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is one of the most important keys to running a successful business online. Having your website at the top of Google’s search results is indispensable for your business. 91.5% of Google traffic is concentrated on the first page of results. Shockingly, less than 10% of people proceed to page 2. With the task of trying to beat all your other competitors to the first page, there is no time for any slip-ups. But a serious threat exists that can threaten your search engine rankings and everything you’ve worked so hard for. This threat is SEO poisoning.
What is SEO Poisoning?
SEO poisoning is when hackers infect your site with malicious code and use aggressive SEO tactics to redirect your visitors to their own sites to increase their revenue as well as infect these visitors with malware. The black hat tactics that they use to swindle their way to the top of the search engines include keyword stuffing, doorway pages, and invisible text.
- Keyword stuffing is often done by inserting repeating keywords in the input type=”hidden” meta tag or in the keyword tag. This ensures that the keywords are hidden from the user’s view but are still scanned by search engines.
- A doorway page is a page that is designed to contain keywords that a search engine’s bots will pick up on in order to be placed higher on the search engine rankings.
- Invisible text is the method of hiding keywords in the body of a web page by changing their color to match that of the background of the page. The more keywords a hacker injects into an infected site, the higher the site rises in the search engine rankings.
While these tactics are considered poor netiquette, hackers don’t care as long as their search engine rankings increase. They are aiming these tactics at search engines rather than a human audience, after all.
Who’s at Risk?
To determine what sites to target, hackers often look at what searches and topics are trending. They make sure to get their poisoned sites at the top of the search results in time for holidays like Halloween and Christmas when people are doing a lot of shopping online. For example, you may think you’re clicking on a site that sells Halloween costumes but you are actually clicking on a compromised site with nothing to offer but the danger of being infected with malware. According to data from GFI Labs, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are among the most targeted holidays for malicious scams.
Another big target for hackers is sites that use the same CMS, like WordPress, Joomla!, or Drupal. This means that the hackers are probably exploiting vulnerabilities found in the CMS to infect the sites. Business owners are at a big risk for SEO poisoning because, for hackers, using a legitimate site with a good reputation makes it harder for search engines to identify and remove the hacked site.
When a visitor clicks on a compromised site, scripts determine if the user is a search Go to the full article.
Source:: Business 2 Community