A distributed denial of service attack, or DDoS, is a bad enough inconvenience concerning your company’s website and application performance, so it’s even more frustrating to know that it could cause your site’s appearance in search engine results to take a hit. This is particularly annoying for businesses because the SEO hit doesn’t stem from any internal mistakes. DDoS attacks can be considered negative SEO, or “anything malicious someone does to harm your site’s rankings,” and can be used as a “black hat” SEO tactic from competitors. Fortunately, a quick response to a DDoS attack can minimize or even eliminate any potential SEO penalties.
The Length of the Attack Matters
The most important part when gauging if a DDoS attack will harm your site’s SEO is the entire duration of the attack as opposed to the intensity of the attack. According to the SEO Blog, Google’s former head of search quality Matt Cutts says that attacks that slow your site down for less than two days won’t have much of an effect on SEO. The problems arise when the attacks go longer and set what the search engines interpret as a “new status quo.”
Short attacks won’t do much damage; however, long or brief repeating attacks that keep your site offline or running extremely slow for an extended period of time will. Search engines don’t want poor performing sites appearing high in results or offline sites appearing at all, so it makes sense from the search’s perspective to eliminate these sites. However, crawlers aren’t built to be petty and will view a temporary outage or short-term performance dip as a hiccup in the system or an attack.
It’s not Google, Bing, or Yahoo handing down a penalty for someone committing an illegal act against your business, but rather the damage caused by the organic use of your site: visitors abandon pages because they take too long to load or fail to connect. DDoS can also negatively impact visitor impressions of your site because they don’t realize the slow performance is because your servers are under attack.
DDoS Aftershock: Recovering in the Aftermath
Unfortunately, there’s not too much your company can do to immediately reverse SEO damage from a DDoS attack; nevertheless, the damage will mostly go away over time as your site rebuilds its SEO value organically. There’s one important thing to note: if your company has implemented new anti-DDoS protections, run the “Fetch as Google” feature in Webmaster Tools to make sure the new security isn’t blocking website crawlers.
In a previous blog, we detailed many things your business can do to minimize the damage a DDoS attack can do to your business. These same DDoS prevention tactics also help minimize any damage the attacks can do to your site’s SEO. Among the many tools that can help your business, load testing and website monitoring can make a huge difference.
Find out more on how to keep your company’s web platforms running at peak performance when put to the test whether the traffic comes from growing popularity or a DDoS attack. Contact Apica today!