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Of Content Kings and Defenestration

7 min read

Quality, keyword rich content helps to organically raise site visibility on search engines. I haphazardly learned how beneficial content was back in the early 2000’s when I built a Canadian themed site. I watched the unique visitor views grow to over 1000 per day and stay there for a decade, even without regular updates. Over the years, I’ve seen how niche key words used properly within educational content will bring traffic to high competition subjects.

As more businesses come online, competition has increased; it’s been more difficult to make an organic search engine mark. Real estate is one of those industries where you need to either look for an ideal niche search term or expect a long, hard, competitive crawl to the top of the main keyword search terms. It can be done, it just takes time, consistency, and perseverance. Content has been – and continues to be – King for marketing purposes. (Read David Lingholm’s article on why content marketing is King.)

In the past I have never shared client case studies on my site… I’m a little hung up on confidentiality, but this event left me shaken and concerned. I assume it’s happened to others before, but like the interviewee on the evening news, “I can’t believe it happened in MY neighborhood!”

Five times a week for most of the past year, we’ve been posting content related to mortgage rates on a blog… imagine my ecstatic excitement when I realized my real estate agent client was showing on the first page of Google for “mortgage rates” in their area. It wasn’t one we had actively chased, we were posting content for the benefit of buyers only; I had been watching just in case. What was most exciting was that key phrase solidly shuts out “the little guys” but we had made it.

From Wikipedia:
Wikipedia Definition of Defenestration

Within days of showing up on the first page, my client’s site was crippled under a DDoS (Denial of Service) attack. DDoS attacks have been happening for years, but typically targeted towards larger, more powerful companies.

DDoS is the process by which botnets (web of computers used for malicious purposes) try to keep a site so busy that legitimate traffic cannot access it. The constant serving of files, works the servers to the point that any other sites sharing space are also affected.

As the bots become less expensive and easier to implement, black hat search engine optimization companies will likely use this strategy to eliminate the competition and move their clients up the search engine results page.

I suspect this is exactly what happened in our case. My small business clientele doesn’t have the resources to avoid this type of attack.

Thanks to a conversation with Billy Strawter of 3sixteen/web, his suggestion turned out to be the best solution. We blocked all traffic from Russia and China, fortunately, not my client’s target market.

I’m not 100% sure this is the reason… it very well may have been a random attack by someone honing skills, but my clients have fallen to the 5th page of Google while we searched for the best way to respond. It’s disappointing to realize that a year of hard work can be wiped out in a matter of days.

Has this happened to you? Is there an inexpensive way for small businesses to combat DDoS attacks? Do you believe this will become more widespread, and if so, will our web hosts be able to find a solution to stop them before our sites are brought down?

I’d appreciate your input!

*Note – I’d like to thank my web host who worked diligently with me through this challenge. I’ve been with Webhosting.ca for over 10 years and host my most important sites there. Their mail and control panel interface aren’t as pretty as some others but I can pick up the phone and have an answer in minutes – that’s far more important to me.

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