With another core update scheduled for May this year, webmasters are scrambling to get their websites ready. They’re working furiously to ensure that their sites measure up in terms of the core web vitals (CWV) that Google is targeting this year.
Google’s new CWV are geared toward improving the customer experience on your website. They relate to page load speed and performance. But is it a mistake to focus primarily on these factors?
In this post, we’ll answer that question and examine why an insecure site could undo your traffic-building efforts.
What Is the Leading Ranking Factor for 2021?
As always, Google has been reticent to share that information. They have, however, noted that the new CWV will integrate with the existing experience ranking signals:
- Safe browsing
- No intrusive interstitials
As you’ll see, website security appears twice on that list. This makes sense when you consider online fraud statistics. Between 3% and 14% of people in first world countries have had their identities stolen while shopping online.
The increasing focus on web security over the last few years has driven home the point that users must be more careful online. As a result, the security of your site may well be the top ranking factor.
Why Does Security Come Out Tops?
It’s pretty simple—this is an area that not only affects your ranking but could actively discourage clicks. If you’re looking at search results, and two results looked almost identical, would you choose the secure-looking site or the insecure website?
Why HTTPS Protocols Are More Important Than Ever
Google started counting HTTPS protocols as a ranking factor in 2015. Three years later, only 80% of the world’s top websites shifted to HTTPS. At the time of the launch, Google suggested that the change would only impact 1% of traffic.
This may account for the larger company’s reluctance to make the change. Fast-forward today, and you’ll battle to find a site using HTTP on the front page of any search results.
In 2021, the game is changing. Privacy concerns are at an all-time high, and web users understand more about securing their transactions online.
They understand that it’s important to be careful when inputting information on a website. They watch for an up-to-date Secure Sockets Layer certificate.
If your website doesn’t produce one, a warning screen may come up when someone clicks on your link. With web users increasingly understanding the dangers of cybercrime, they’re like to take such warnings seriously.
Your site takes a hit in three different ways:
- A lower SERP
- Visitors not clicking through to the site because they can see it’s not secure
- Google placing warnings that the website may be insecure
Let’s face it, no amount of work on your site will do any good if no one visits it.
Where Does Safe Browsing Come Into the Equation?
Safe browsing is a feature specific to Google. It’s also one of the reasons that it’s so important to check your Google console regularly. Should the algorithm detect a hint of malware on your website, it will actively warn users away from the page.
The company does this to make it harder for bad actors to set up fake websites. It’s also useful for site owners when cybercriminals insert malicious code onto their pages. The search engine sends a warning to the webmaster via Google console to notify them.
Webmasters should act on such warnings quickly, as the site is blacklisted in the interim. Once the website becomes blacklisted, it won’t feature in search engine rankings. Visitors using the link will be warned that the site contains malware before they go through to it.
Blacklisting is more serious than not having an HTTPS address. On the plus side, you may ask the company to review the listing after you’ve rectified the situation.
It’s always important to monitor your site’s performance. However, that comes second to securing your pages in 2021. Think of your website as an extension of your firm’s offices. Would you leave the building unlocked when everyone went home?
Of course not; you want to protect your business assets. Your client database is arguably the most important of those assets. Leaving your website unsecured exposes your loyal clients to identity thieves in a similar manner.
Protect your company’s reputation, client’s personal information, and improve your SERP by enhancing your site’s security. It’s the top traffic-building task for 2021.
“Tina is the captain of the ship named BalancingEverything. As a resident SEO expert, she plans and optimizes all the work to deliver it to everyone with a device connected to the internet. Off work, she likes to look for the perfect green curry spots, explore temples in Southeast Asia, and treat herself to cheesecake and matcha latte, in that order.”Share
About the Author:I am a cybersecurity and IT instructor, cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. I am an owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, I also conduct security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. I also teach Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. I work as an information technology and cybersecurity instructor for several training and certification organizations. I have worked in corporate, military, government, and workforce development training environments I am a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at http://wyzguyscybersecurity.com