Whether you just want to get your personal brand out there or make money as an affiliate blogger, you’re going to want to attract organic traffic. After all, new visitors means a wider audience and/or more potential buyers. If you’re using WordPress on your own domain, however, there’s a very good reason to make sure that you have the most up-to-date version.
One of the things that Google takes into consideration when determining your PageRank is how secure your site is for users to use. For example, if your site uploads spyware or executes malicious scripts, Google is going to penalize you in a hefty way — i.e. your site is not going to show up in the first 300 pages of search results, or may be banned from Google results altogether. The result is that you won’t get anymore organic traffic for the world’s biggest search engine.
What does this have to do with affiliate bloggers, you ask? Well if they are using WordPress as a blogging platform, it has a lot to do with them.
You see, WordPress is an open-source platform. That means two thing: (1) you don’t need a license to use it, and (2) everyone has access to the source code. Because everyone has access to the source code, security can be more of an issue.
Everytime WordPress releases an update, they publish the reasons why you should update, and often one of the reasons is a security bug fix. The problem is that once a security update is released, everyone knows what that security bug was. If you don’t have the most recent version of WordPress, then, hackers can easily find a way to exploit your blog.
Common Security Attacks
A common exploit for hackers is to find a blog with decent traffic and hack it so that they can insert their own malicious scripts. These scripts can execute an array of malicious actions, from installing spyware to cookie stuffing — which can outright steal referrals from you by overwriting your affiliate cookies with their own.
The real danger, however, is from an SEO point of view. If a hacker exploits a security bug in an older version of WordPress that you’re using to power your blog, you stand to lose a lot more than just a referral commission. Your blog can get buried in or banned from Google’s search results, and you can lose one of the largest sources of your traffic.
How to Monitor and Protect Your Security
The first thing you want to keep on top of any security breeches or changes in your SEO is to monitor your PageRank. The easiest way to do this is through Google Toolbar for the Firefox browser. If you see your PageRank drop to zero, then you know that something is up.
Yous also want to make sure that you keep up-to-date in your versions of WordPress. You can usually get easy, one-click upgrades if your blog is hosted by a hosting provider that has cPanel. But you should also probably consider these 9 SEO Security Tips from AnteZeta.com:
- Know Your Plugins
- Use a Recent Version of WordPress
- Change the default Admin Account user from “admin”
- Password protect your WordPress admin interface at the server level
- Rename your WordPress database tables
- Hide your plugin directory from prying eyes
- Remove the WordPress version number from your blog and any active plugins
- Watch for PHP error reporting
- Do a WordPress Security Scan
The original post has ample explanation about each of these items, and is definitely worth checking out.
Having your blog hacked can often be something you don’t even notice. That is, of course, until you’re banned by Google, and your traffic dwindles off into nothingness. Having that happen can seriously suffocate your personal brand, and cut off a lucrative revenue stream if you’re an affiliate blogger.