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How DDoS Attacks Can Impact Your SEO

Dec 24th 2013

It seems like a day doesn’t go by without a story popping up on another major DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack. In the past couple of months, we’ve seen DDoS attacks on the Australian Federal Police, Reserve Bank of Australia, and RBS. DDoS attacks have plagued businesses and government organizations not just in recent weeks but all year long, and they don’t seem to be stopping any time soon.

Of course, the damage caused by DDoS attacks is well documented. These attacks against websites can cost businesses as much as $6,500 per hour in recovering from them. Companies hit by a DDoS attack have to hire professionals to respond to the issue, invest in a solution to prevent any future attacks, and deal with lost productivity and revenue due to the downtime on the website.

But one potentially negative consequence from DDoS attacks that often gets overlooked is the affect it could have on search engine rankings. We already know that if your website isn’t accessible, it can hurt your search rankings. After all, Google wants to provide its users with quality results and websites that actually work. So, when your site is down from a DDoS attack and Google sees that it’s “uncrawlable” it’s fair to be concerned that your rankings may take a hit. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous black hat SEOs reportedly have already started resorting to using DDoS attacks against competitors as a tactic to take out their websites and bring down their rankings. It’s an incredibly dirty way to run a business, but in the eyes of these few black hat SEOs, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Will a Single DDoS Attack Kill Your Rankings?

It’s important to point out that the length of time your site is down plays a role in determining whether or not your rankings will be affected. According to Google’s Matt Cutts, “If it was just for a day, you should be in pretty good shape. If your host is down for two weeks, then there’s a better indicator that the website is actually down and we don’t want to send users to a website that is actually down. So if it was only just a short period of downtime, I wouldn’t really worry about that.”

So, if you’re the victim of a DDoS attack and you get your website back up in a short period of time, it seems pretty likely that your SEO won’t be affected. Of course, if the attack keeps your website down for an extended period of time or if you’re the victim of multiple DDoS attacks over an extended period of time, it’s absolutely possible that your rankings could take a serious hit.

That is why it is important that you take DDoS protection seriously. You need to do whatever you can to prevent DDoS attacks or at the very least mitigate any attack that does hit your website. Make sure you have systems in place to detect attacks and a plan for responding to them as quickly and effectively as possible.

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