What is SEO other than a search engine’s way of telling a searcher that this website here is exactly what they are looking for? But what does that really mean? Are customers only interested in what a site sells? It may be what they initially hoped for, but there are other factors that come into play once they step onto a website.
Online consumers want more than just the direct answer to their query. They want to know that a website will perform well, that it contains relevant and well-maintained information, and that it will keep them safe as they exchange their personal and sensitive information for a service or product. SEO takes all of these factors into account.
While your e-commerce website may have the very best offering of whatever your target audience is looking for, if it is not secure, the search engines are going to point potential customers elsewhere. Even if search engines were not a consideration, your audience is likely savvy enough these days to know that a “not secure” warning in their browser window or a lack of security seals on the payment page are major no-nos for e-commerce websites.
Here are some ways you should be protecting your e-commerce website and providing customers with a safer place to do business with you.
1. Get an SSL certificate
An SSL certificate is the first step in protecting your website from security breaches. Take a look at what Google did in 2014 and again in 2016 to nudge the web into using SSL certificates. In the most basic of terms, an SSL certificate enables you to move your site to HTTPS (the secure HTTP web address), essentially putting an extra layer of encryption between you and your visitors when they share their data.
2. Lock up your site from the outside
Next check with your hosting company. If they offer any security protection, be sure to take it. Then work on getting a layer built into your content management system. There are a number of WordPress security plugins, Joomla security extensions, Drupal security modules, and so on to give you that additional protection and monitoring from inside. You may also want to get a firewall put in place.
3. Fortify your login
You would be surprised how many people think that because they have protective layers built up around their website that they still don’t need to lock the front door. Of course you do. Be sure to abide by and enforce strong password rules for everyone who has access to your site. If you want to take it a step further, use two-factor authentication (meaning users need to verify their identity with a second device like a mobile phone).
4. Clean house
As much as we want to have faith that the tools we use to build, manage, and enhance our sites are well-made and secure, that is not always the case. They are just as prone to infections and security breaches as your site is. So, keep a close eye on your content management system as well as all the tools within it. If you are not using one of them, ditch it. If it has not been updated in over a year or the developer does not maintain it, ditch it. Moreover, if you see any updates come through, always make them.
5. Secure your payment gateway
If you are using an e-commerce platform like Shopify or WooCommerce, then you most likely use the payment gateway they provide. If you are not using those platforms or you are nervous about how secure your credit card or PayPal processing is for your customers, then it may be time to conduct a security audit on it.
Also, don’t forget to secure the data you receive on the other side. Sucuri has a great guide on how to be PCI compliant when you accept customer payment information.
Need another reason to take all this security talk seriously? How about this: e-commerce companies lose $172 for every record (customer, employee, or company) that is compromised by a security breach. Multiply that by the number of individual records you currently have and mull that over for a moment.
When it comes to e-commerce security, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
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