Finding out that your site was hacked is never a fun experience. It brings a lot of stress, and it’s not hard to understand why no one wants it to happen to them. No matter how quickly you act, there will be some damage you’ll have to deal with. To help you take care of it, today we’re talking about how to recover from a hacked website and get your SEO back on track.
How do you recover a hacked website?
Before we dive into how to fix both your on-page and off-page SEO, let’s go over how to recover your site when it gets hacked. If you already did it, read the steps and check if your process was by the book.
- Verify that you’ve been hacked.
- Back up your site before you take any action.
- Take the site offline and do a cleanup.
- Find out how the hacker got in and close the security hole. Also, if you’re running any dated themes or plugins, be sure to update them.
- Ensure all the signs of infection are gone.
- Bring your site back online.
SEO damage inspection
Once your website is up and running as intended, it’s time to assess how much your SEO has suffered. Here are the steps you should take.
Check your site on Google Safe Browsing
The first thing you want to do is head right to Google and see if they think your site is now safe. You do that by getting the Transparency Report from their Safe Browsing service. It’s simple to use as you only have to copy your site’s URL to the box on the page. Right away, you’ll find out if your site has been compromised or not.
If there are some issues, you’ll see that they categorize your website as either an attack site or a compromised website. The former means that some software on your site will infect your visitors’ computers, and the latter means that the hacker put some content or spam on your site. Neither is good, but you’ll have to dig further to learn more about what’s going on.
Look at your Google Search Console
The next thing you want to do is log into your Google Search Console and check if you have any new messages. If Google figures out what has happened, they’ll notify you, so seeing a message here is a good sign. And while you’re at it, check your website’s support email as Google sometimes sends a message there instead.
You’ll also want to check the Security Issues report that you can find on the left side. If Google’s crawler bots detected malware on your site, this is where you’ll learn about it.
Check how your site appears in search results
After going through all the tools, all that is left is to search for your site on Google. A simple trick here is to add ”site:” to your search query. So, you’re typing site:yoursitename.com.
You’ll see all the pages Google has indexed for your site. If some of them have been infected, you’ll see ”This site may harm your computer” or ”This site may be compromised” message when you click on them.
Either of them is a clear sign that Google thinks your site still poses a danger. But why do you still see these errors if you took care of them? Well, let’s talk about it.
How do malware and your site being hacked impact your SEO?
To learn how to recover from a hacked website and get your SEO back on track, you must know what’s going on under the hood. Even if you followed all the top tips for better ranking, you might find that you’re no longer on the first page. It’s frustrating, but there’s nothing to worry about.
Google has to protect its users, so they’ll notify them if they should be careful around your site. So, naturally, this will affect your site performance. You’ll see a massive drop in ranking positions, and your SEO traffic will plummet.
Luckily, not all is lost, and this change will be temporary if you do the right things.
Recover your SEO ranking and reputation
Follow the correct procedure, and within 24 hours, your site will be where you left it before the hack. Here’s a three-step checklist you need to complete to get your site back on the SERPs.
- Ensure there are no malware, spam, or content hackers left on your site. If you left something out, you’d have to go through the whole thing once again, and you’ll be off the grid for longer this time around.
- If you didn’t do it already, add your site to Google Search Console to find out what pages on your website have been infected. You’ll also use it to submit a request to Google to stop blacklisting your domain.
- Finally, open your Security Issues report and request a review. If you did well with your cleanup and there’s genuinely no malware on your site, you’ll get your ranking back in the next 24 hours.
The bottom line
If you followed our guide and didn’t skip any steps, you did all possible. Now, you just have to wait, and things will get back to normal.
It’s crucial that you don’t take this personally and keep your head cool. All kinds of sites, both big and small, get hacked, and it will continue to happen. So instead of stressing out, focus on finding the vulnerability hackers used to breach your site and make sure to fix it. If you’re not into web development, hire a cybersecurity expert to ensure that the threat is gone.
Now you know how to recover from a hacked website and get your SEO back on track, so be sure to use that knowledge. While entirely deterring hacker attacks might not be possible, you can still do some things to make it harder for the bad guys. And if it does happen again, you know what you should do.
Danny Swanson is a cybersecurity expert and a freelance writer from New York. At the moment, he works closely with Movers Development, and when he’s not on the clock, he’s always reading and researching new trends.