My Website Was Hacked & Here’s What I Learned

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My website was hacked … again and again, and over the last two weeks, I finally took steps to properly fix it.

I’ve been dealing with website issues since the middle of March when I noticed that one day had particularly high traffic compared to the other days. The same thing happened in April. Each time I reached out to my web developer to help me resolve the issue.

When it happened again in May, my web developer recommended that I switch website hosting services, as the security of the company I was using (SiteGround, for anyone who is interested) had gone downhill. I agreed to switch it over to my developers’ personal server, but after that migration took place, I asked her to switch it back. She is a one-person operation, and I wasn’t comfortable that she was the only one who could access my website. What if she was traveling or hospitalized? I wanted to have the ability to access it, too, if needed.

Hack attempts continued in June, and by July, the hackers succeeded. We cleaned it up, and I started shopping for a new website host. <— such a fun way to spend your evenings and weekends!

Unfortunately, the hackers were not done messing with my site. In the two weeks I took to research new website hosts, they were still able to access my site – even adding several new blog articles.

website-hack-attempts

In early August, I switched my website host to one that came highly recommended by someone in my Mastermind group. She further recommended that I get someone else (a second opinion) to look “under the hood” of my website. I’m glad I did.

He found “over 5,500 files left by previous hackers and malicious folders full of other sites’ content for pharmaceutical products.” That’s just one in a long list of items he fixed inside my website.

He recommended that he do a full assessment of my entire website and email system. I agreed, and over this last week, he’s reviewed every nook and cranny of my digital real estate = my website.

  • Deleted conflicting plugins
  • Deleted unused plugins
  • Set up my authentication software properly (because I hadn’t)
  • Looked at each page (not post) of my site to make sure that malicious content wasn’t added
  • Removed a ton of page builder items my site didn’t need, which makes my site load faster (page loading speed is a factor for Google)
  • Streamlined my site map
  • Fixed my email. It had been giving me issues off and on since January
  • … and more

I say it all the time:

Take care of the two pieces of digital real estate you own: your website and your email list.

While I thought I was taking care of my website particularly because I’ve been working on organic SEO efforts (read more below in resources), I wasn’t doing a good enough job.

I’d become too passive with the security of my site. I’d slowly taken my hands off of my website wheel and gone into cruise control mode as I dealt with other aspects of my business and personal life. And even when I knew the hack attempts were happening, I wasn’t aggressive enough early on to put an end to it. I know this now.

Your website is one of the most important assets for your business, and if it loses credibility, it will not come up in Google (or Bing) search results. You lose all of that wonderful organic SEO that you’ve probably spent a decade or more creating.

My tips to you from my lessons learned:

  • Assessment. Pay your website developer to do a thorough assessment of your website. It will probably cost between $350 and $500. It’s worth every penny.
  • Maintenance & monitor. Pay your website developer’s monthly fee to monitor, maintain and backup your website. It will probably cost around $100 a month. Make sure you understand how frequently they will log into your site to do the needed updates and how often your website is backed up. Over time, assess if you are happy with the services/results you are receiving? If not, talk to your website developer to increase the level of service or shop for a different one.
  • Deal with spam swiftly. Review your blog for spam comments. Remove them immediately.
  • Know the data. Review your Google Analytics every month (weekly is better). It takes 3 minutes. If you see an unusual spike in traffic, alert your website developer.
  • Log into your website at least once a week. Look around. See if any content was added without your knowledge or looks suspicious. If you use WordPress, are there a ton of updates needed? If so, ask your web developer to make them. If you are on a maintenance and monitoring program with your developer, do you see updates being made regularly? If not, that may be a sign you need to look elsewhere.

Don’t be passive about your website. It’s the most important digital asset you have.

RESOURCES 💭

SEO Health Check 💻: Want to check the health of your website SEO? Use my SEO tool that provides you with a detailed report of how your website performs in terms of different and important SEO ranking factors. It will help you determine the health of your SEO and where you need to focus your time and attention to increase your website’s visibility. Try it out now. 

Storytelling in Marketing: Storytelling is key to marketing and a great way to connect with your potential customers. In this guest post for ECI BuildTools, I share five tips on how custom builders and remodelers can get started in storytelling. Read my guest article. 

Builders’ Show, February 8-10, 2022 in Orlando: For the third year in a row, I am a Builders’ Show Ambassador. What that means is I am available to answer your questions about the show. Believe me, between my time working at an HBA + my years of being an active member, I know a LOT about the show! If you have questions, reach out to me. I’m happy to help. Email me.

Registration for the IBS 2022 opens on September 1. Now more than ever, it’s important to know how to navigate your business, and all the information you need can be found at the show. The best registration deals happen in September: All-Access is $350 for NAHB members; Expo Pass is $0! Learn more about the show.

THE NEWSLETTER PROGRAM FOR KITCHEN & BATH REMODELERS 🏠

MY LIFE 📷

As I noted in the last issue, Jason and I have been working a lot this summer, and unfortunately, in these last two weeks, we’ve only had a bit of free time. We have a few big things planned in the near future, however.

I’ve managed to get on the Peloton and get into our garage gym a bit more regularly this month. It’s really helped me decompress. If you have a Peloton and want to connect, I’m PAWriterGirl. I’ll follow you back!

Have a great few weeks! I’ll be in touch again on September 10, 2021 with another issue of Jottings.

Until next time,


If you’d like to work with me , there are three ways I can kick-start your marketing efforts:

  1. Grab a free copy of my sample Welcome Message. When you launch a new email newsletter program, your first message needs to communicate several points. Get it here.
  2. Schedule a Marketing Consultation Session. Are you stuck? Spend an hour with me. Use this time to get answers and direction to some of your marketing challenges … and get un-stuck. Book a session.
  3. Make your newsletter process MUCH easier. Let me do it all for you! Unlike other newsletter programs, my program provides you with the opportunity to 1) write your welcome message and 2) customize the content – both of which give your newsletter the much-needed personal touch to better connect with your prospects and customers. See how easy it really is. 

Less Blah.
More Meaning.

Subscribe to Jottings to get insights for generating and nurturing leads with meaningful content.

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