When it comes to sensitive data, we are often asked about web security. The Ashley Madison leak is just another in a slew of reasons why we always tell clients, any data you out on the web is just that, “on the web”! Whether you are trying to have an online repository for documents, or are storing pictures or information, our rule of thumb is always, “if you can access it via the web, so can someone else.” Yes, there are very many types of internet security encryption methods, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connections, but the fact remains that the data you are trying to keep safe online, is never completely safe!
All data on the web, whether it’s data that is meant to be private or public, is accessed by browsers or persons using code to get in to the system. Even when you log in to your facebook account, that is the same as a “secure data exchange” between your browser and Facebook’s servers. To simplify this concept, think of it this way. The email and password you enter are “encrypted”, or scrambled into a string of text that gets “descrambled” by the websites server, which is a computer that “serves” the website to your computer. It is this encryption that is the basis for all internet security. Sort of like an orphan annie secret decoder ring. So, if there are people out there who “really” want your data, then they may do the work it takes to try and gain access to your data by trying to “crack the code” into the websites database or by exposing a vulnerability in the code that accesses the database, causing their access to be top secret status which will allow them to access everything and anything the database is storing.
If you were a member of Ashley Madison’s cheater website, you submitted your information or “data” to their database. Your email address, your name, your town, etc. This data is pretty powerful. Not just because of the data itself, but because of the site that holds the data. When you sign up for any website, whether it be for good or bad, you are supplying information to a database over the internet. Even if you use super stealthy browsers, proxy servers or whatever clever way you can think of to cover your tracks (clearing your cookies,clearing your history), the website still has the data. You have trusted them to keep your info safe, and more often than not they fail. Even huge corporations and top secret government databases get hacked.
If you take anything from this post, take this. If you give data to any website, you’re giving them the opportunity to have that data stolen. Sure, you may not be too worried about someone staying up late trying to hack your into your vacation photos on facebook, but for those who are members of ashley madison, they never thought this would happen. But it did. And they will now definitely think thrice before entering information on a web form!
A question often asked when discussing search engine optimization and increasing web traffic is about the term backlinks or backlinking. Many people either don’t know what a backlink is or they have an idea but don’t understand the significance of backlinks and their impact on your websites rankings. So let’s have a quick look at what a backlink is.
A backlink is a link from any website on the internet, other than yours, that links to your website. If your website is ABC.com, a backlink would be a link on another website, say XYZ.com that links to a page on your website ABC.com. Is that simple enough? OK, great, but the topic does go a bit deeper.
Search engines, including Google look at your backlink profile to determine your websites popularity. Backlinks are kind of like a Google Popularity Contest. And the more external websites that link to your site, the more popular your site looks. And the more popular your site looks, the more Google and other search engines will like your site. This search engine love will send new traffic to your site and make you visitor rich! Well, it’s not that simple. Though it used to be!
Once people learned that search engines were using backlinks as one factor in determining website relevance and popularity, people started to abuse the backlink factor. Services were popping up left and right. Offers such as “Buy 1000 backlinks for just $50,” were littering the web. People started to pay for backlinks from irrelevant websites, just to boost their Google Popularity. And for a while, this worked!
Have you ever heard the saying”If you want to know who you are, look at your friends?” This saying rings very true when discussing your backlinks. Google knows which sites offer very low quality to internet users, such as the “pay for links” type of sites. These websites are usually on Googles radar for being “less worthy” websites that don’t give any value other than a link out. And if you have a bunch of links from a bunch of these spammy link sites, then you too are guilty by association! These spammy websites generally will have a low Google page Rank, and their links to you may not help your site and can even do seo damage to your site!
Absolutely! It is still important to get backlinks, but be sure to get GOOD backlinks. Backlinks from bad websites can make your website rankings hurt. If your backlink profile is full of spammy backlinks from unsavory websites, you too become spammy and unsavory. But if your backlink profile is full of links from relevant websites that rank well, and popular social media sites and even credible directories, you’ll do well!
Many companies still offer backlinks in exchange for cash. And there are even those who can do a good job of getting you backlinks for little cash. But you have to know how to watch what backlinks are being made, and monitor if they are helping or hurting. Even the timing of the backlinks can look suspicious to Google. If you had zero backlinks in January, but 2000 in March, a red flag is going to go up on Googles sensors!
Are you curious about your current backlink status? Or your competitions backlink status? Let All Things Digital do a website SEO review and “Backlinks” will be a component of that review. We can help to determine how many backlinks you have, how many are good and how many are bad. Backlinks are an important part of a quality long term SEO strategy. Let us help you to understand backlinks even more!