There’s nothing harder than staying ahead of the competition in today’s incredibly fast-paced world of e-commerce. Opportunities abound to build a following and create a successful business, but you have to be both aggressive and mindful to make it happen.
The internet is riddled with forgotten blogs, hacked sites, spam and clickbait, but ultimately even that content poses a threat of competition to the success of your blog and/or business. Even if you’re not trying to make money blogging, you need to take your online reputation seriously, and that means having a strategic security plan.
SEO is only the start of getting the edge on your competition. If you really want to get into your customers’ shoes and grow a sustainable business, you need to configure your security concerns to your SEO practices.
There are some basic steps you can take to protect your site from malware, hackers, and everything in between:
- Keep your WordPress plugins up to date – I know, I know, updates are irritating, but seriously, the longer those plugins sit stagnant on your site in outdated versions, the longer hackers will have to really work on invading their code. Buck up buttercup, and update those plugins.
- Always use anti-virus software – It’s just common sense, and even though it may mean you have to spend actual money, you will be getting actual, serious protection. If your system gets compromised, everything from malware to ransomware could be invading your files, and literally holding your files and precious documents hostage.
- Back it up, ALL of it – Too many accidents happen to take the chance, so if you’re not already using cloud storage or online backup service such as Dropbox or OneDrive, it’s time to start shopping around.
Your online security is tantamount to earning your customers’ trust, so don’t cut any corners. No doubt though, one of the best and most comprehensive ways to protect your customers’ data and the integrity of your business is hit threats hard and fast with a security triple whammy:
- Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- Anti-virus Software
- Online Backup
What is a VPN?
VPNs are kind of a new tool as far as SEO web applications go, but they’ve been around for a long time. Before just recently, a VPN was used primarily for online privacy and accessing blocked content, but their applications within e-commerce and SEO are becoming more and more notable.
It’s typically a software program you can download from a site, and a service you pay for on either a one time or repeating basic. Here’s how it works:
- Once the software is downloaded to your device, instead of connecting to whatever local networks are nearby, you select a server location from the VPN’s list.
- Once you’re connected, your traffic is actually routed to that server location and fully encrypted.
- In addition, your IP address is hidden, and the one that the VPN uses is completely untraceable back to you.
VPNs have some obvious draws to people looking to push back against internet censorship and government surveillance, but they also provide an incredibly secure connection and access to any content you want, no matter where you are.
VPNs and SEO – Why It’s a Great Combination
As a website owner, you have a lot to really make you consider using a VPN during your work sessions. Here I’ll spell out the reasons why it’s worth it:
Work Securely on Public Networks
We’re all pretty familiar with the risks of using a public WiFi hotspot. It’s incredibly easy for hackers to rig a setup, hang out in the coffee shop and hijack your connection to steal your personal information.
With a VPN, all of your data is fully encrypted, so even if you’re sitting in a cafe or in an airport, you NEVER have to worry about your privacy being compromised. Here’s to getting work done on the run.
Never Leave an IP Address Trail
Never mind the numerous reasons it’s unpleasant to have a business following your every move online, as government continues to compromise our privacy in the name of security, it’s a very real possibility that your activity could be being traced.
Even if you’re not up to anything sinister, your IP address holds your rough location information, and even if law enforcement isn’t peeking at it, you can bet marketing software and malware is. Don’t let your IP address become your public identity online. It makes you an easy target to trace. Use a VPN to hide your real IP address.
See What Your Customers See
Since a VPN hides your real IP address and lets you connect to servers all over the world, you can actually get a totally fresh and authentic perspective of what they see when they view your site or use search engines.
VPNs’ applications with marketing are only just beginning to be tapped, but for international business owners in particular, this aspect of their use poses an exciting new way to develop more focused marketing strategies and truly get an insider’s look into the minds and viewing habits of their customers.
Generally speaking, in places like North America and Europe, internet censorship isn’t incredibly pronounced, particularly with e-commerce tools and blog developing sites such as WordPress. However, in large portions of the Middle East and Asia, as well as some parts of South America, access to blogs in particular is pretty heavily restricted.
In addition, some online services that you may use to run your business may actually be unavailable in places you visit overseas. For instance, Skype is blocked completely in China, and VoIP services are banned in several countries, simply because they pose a market threat to telecommunication companies that hold a monopoly over their industry there.
Before you travel, it’s important to consider, are you going to be able to access the same sites and services you use to run your business back home? Don’t let geo-restrictions lock you out. Install a VPN before you go.
It may all seem like lofty hypotheticals and reaching what-ifs, but the reality is that even the experts in cybersecurity have their accounts hacked from time to time. It can absolutely happen to anyone, and recovering your image is an extremely uphill battle.
By all means, be an SEO shark. Market like crazy, keep your content fresh, and always look toward the next big thing with your market research, but bear in mind that much of the data you transmit while conducting day to day operations and SEO practices holds some pretty significant value to hackers.