During our research into what the WordPress community knows about hacked websites, we discovered that there is very little data available on the subject. We decided to conduct a survey, inviting a portion of our community to participate.
We received responses from 1,605 people who reported having a website they manage hacked in the last year. We learned a lot. Thank you to everyone who participated!
In a related effort, we also added an article to our Learning Center focused on recovering SEO after a hack.
How does a hacked website impact SEO
We approached this question from a number of angles. The first thing we asked was whether the website was flagged by Google as hacked or containing malicious content. Of the respondents who knew, 46.5% reported being flagged. We were surprised at how low this number was. With over half of the sites not being flagged by Google, we can’t rely on Google to alert us to a hack.
It also means that if you move quickly, you have a good chance of cleaning your site before Google discovers it, potentially avoiding a search engine traffic impact. This is a strong indicator of the value of having your own malware scanner like Wordfence installed that is checking your site regularly.
The next thing we looked at was the impact of a hacked website on traffic. The chart below shows good news and bad. The good news is that 55% of you said that a hack had no impact on search traffic.
The bad news is that 45% saw search traffic impacted by a hack and 9% saw a traffic drop of over 75%.