Last year, Google shared that there had been a 180% increase in hacked sites as well as a 300% increase in hacked site reconsideration requests. With these increased numbers, it’s important to be prepared in case your site gets hacked. So if you happen to Google your businesses and see a hacked notice, don’t panic. Follow these steps below.
First, let’s highlight some sure signs that your site has been hacked:
- Website defacement: This website hacker attack alters the site’s appearance.
- Redirect: The hacker may replace the hosted website with their own.
- Hacked site message on Webmaster tools.
After confirming that your site has been hacked, you must verify the type of hack. You may receive a message via Webmaster tools concerning the following:
- Spammy pages/links/content
- Phishing, a scam used to obtain confidential information through email
- Distribution of malware (harmful software)
After verifying the type of attack, you must immediately inform your website hosting company and have them temporarily take your site offline.
When your site is offline, make sure that the hacker didn’t create a new user account. If you come across an unfamiliar account, delete it immediately.
After this, create new passwords for all accounts (FTP, database access, system administrators, CMS).
Next, go to Webmaster tools and make sure that no unwanted changes have been made to the users and owners, crawl rate, remove URLs, and address. If you find that changes have been made, return to the previous settings.
When a site has been hacked, the hacker often will imbed URLs throughout your website. The URLs will be clickable and accessible to website visitors. These URLs will then be indexed by Google, causing your site to be ranked for unwanted keywords as well as a growth in indexed pages.
These pages will have to be identified, deleted, and labeled as a 410 or 404. The easiest way to identify these pages is through a site search in Google or by looking into your Google Analytics reports and observing what new pages have been receiving traffic.
Next, you want to clean your server and go live again. This entails restoring a clean backup of your website, resetting passwords, and upgrading software to decrease vulnerability.
To conclude this procedure, you should Request a Review in Webmaster tools. It may take up to a month before Google fully reviews your new site. When the review has been approved, your site will no longer be labeled as hacked.
For a deeper look into hacked sites and what to do, check out this great article here.
Interested in learning more about what Stream has to offer regarding SEO? Download our free eBook How Stream Companies Does SEO.
—Erik Krass is a Digital PR Coordinator at Stream Companies, a full-service Philadelphia-area advertising agency.