The URL Blacklist is a list that contains different website links that have engaged in malicious or suspicious activity deemed dangerous or insecure to visit by hosting providers, search engines, authoritative bodies, or antivirus programs. When a web link is clicked, a warning message will pop up giving the user the option to go back to SERPs page or proceed to the link. Most users will not continue to the link unless they have had previous experience with the company. In 2003, Google blacklisted around 10,000 sites per day. The number has grown in recent years, with Google blocking around 40,000 a week. It is vital for your company’s website to remain off the blacklist so that you do not loose web traffic and revenue.
Why Would My Website be Blacklisted?
There are several reasons a website might get blacklisted. Here are the most common reasons a website is get put on this the list:
- SEO Spam
Hackers gain access to a website and fill it with spammy content to pages with the highest rankings and traffic. They will also tempt sell illicit, illegal, or counterfeit products using spammy keywords, injections, and pop-ups.
- Phishing Schemes
Host links that lead users to sketchy websites or duplications of popular websites are categorized as phishing schemes. Visitors of these unethical websites end up sharing their private info, often credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, social security numbers, and more. Which in turn is used to access their bank account and get scammed out of money.
- Malware Code
This is the most common reason a website is blacklisted. Trojan horses are types of malicious software or code that looks harmless but deceives visitors into installing or loading the malware onto their computer. Once in place, the hacker can potentially take control of a device and perform various harmful actions.
How do I Prevent My Website from Being Blacklisted?
You can prevent your company’s website from being a target for blacklisting by doing the following:
- Use a Reputable Web Hosting Provider
Use hosting services that provides safety monitoring, security features, and strong firewalls that can help detect potential attacks and security breaches while also helping you detect certain site vulnerabilities. These providers should also alert you when they detect suspicious activity on your site and help you get rid of any online infections.
- Use Cybersecurity Services
You want your website to be frequently scanned for different threats or infections. This dramatically decreases the chances of getting blacklisted. Acting as fast as possible is key in avoiding traffic and revenue loss. Implementing automated cybersecurity protocols can be highly effective, especially if your current hosting provider does not offer monitoring services.
- Keep Apps, Plugins, and Site Software Updated
The most common problem a company has is maintaining their website’s apps, plugins, and site software, especially if you use a CMS such as WordPress. Hackers usually attack insecure points of entry and insert malicious code, spammy content, trojan horses, suspicious links, and more. The backdoors are usually old, outdated apps, plugins, and software. It is imperative that you keep everything up-to-date and secure, from your third-party apps to the site’s core software. If you or your internal team are too busy, look for a digital marketing agency that provides web maintenance services.
- Fix Broken Links
Broken links occur when the website or page they have previously linked to has gone through reconstruction, and the redirect needs to be set up again. These links usually send both crawlers and users to 404 pages. This can have a negative effect both on site rankings and user experience. Also, broken links can be due to domain name changes. The new domain owner can redirect the visitors to phishing and/or malware sites, so make sure you own your domain name, or you will have to send a large amount of money to make sure you marketing material contains a new domain name. Regularly audit your site for link errors and replace broken ones. There are automated tools and digital marketing agencies that can do the job perfectly if you have a huge website that requires a thorough eye.
- Limit Login Attempts
Hackers will attempt to enter your website using aggressive tactics called brute-force attacks. They use bots that run through billions of potential password and username combos and might enter the correct credentials. When website owners limit login attempts, they can safely avoid these problems by kicking out a user if they misuse a username or password more than three times. Hacker prefer to go after easy targets and this is one easy barrier to implement.
- Use Strong Passwords
This may seem like a commonsense answer, but many users use an easy password when starting off and forget to change the password later. Hackers try to access a site through logins as mentioned in the previous point, but they can also use dictionary attacks, where they list out common phrases and words to guess passwords to take over an account. Require your users to use strong passwords with a variety of lowercase and uppercase letters and symbols. You want to create a unique password that makes it difficult for malicious actors to enter your website through the administrator section of your website.
- Delegate User Permissions & Roles
When you have several users who help you run your website, you should consider assigning different permissions and roles to help secure your platform from attacks. When a hacker manages to steal or guess the credentials of your site admin, they can do tremendous damage to your website. However, if you limit permissions, you can also limit the hacker’s opportunities if they do manage to gain access. This will also create a more organized workflow. For example, your social media manger can manage the blog section and your sales team can manage your sales pages. Make sure your company has a password manager so if an employee leaves, they can submit their username and password for the website or marketing manager.
- Use an SSL Certificate
An SSL certificate is a digital certificate that authenticates a website’s identity and enables an encrypted connection. Having SSL certificate means there is a security protocol that creates an encrypted link between a web server and a web browser. These help websites make secure online transactions and keep customer information private and secure. Most domain and hosting providers automatically include SSL certs, but if unsure you can check if you have an SSL certificate by checking if your browser has a lock icon. Click on it and a message should pop up telling you if you have an encrypted connection. If you do not see a lock icon there is a high chance your website isn’t secure.
Need help preventing your website URL from being blacklisted? Call 248.528.3600.