Avoid these Black Hat SEO Tactics & Google Penalty
Using search engine optimization tactics is an essential part of growing any website or brand and for gaining organic traffic. There are a lot of strategies and techniques one can use to make that happen, but neither of them are easy tricks or something that you can do by using a few apps.
Although search engines are computer driven programs/robots that have websites as their input and rankings as their output, they can’t be fooled so easily. A lot of people think of search engine optimization as a completely lawless territory where they can use whatever tool necessary for them to stay on top. Like it was a survival of the fittest situation!
While that may be true to some extent, there are many questionable practices that should be avoided. Practices like this are named black hat SEO techniques. They use the power of the dark side and they work with some seriously spammy methods to try and fool Google’s search search engine and take their websites to the top.
Some of these “black hat” practices have worked in the past and there are some that might work effectively today, but their results are short lived. Search engines continuously police the Internet and the methods people are using to rank their websites, and strike down once they see them use questionable methods. Their short term success ends up having that website penalized, causing more harm than good. Using any dumb SEO tactics or tactics that aren’t in line with Google’s guidelines should be avoided at all costs because they come with some serious consequences in the long term.
This doesn’t mean you can’t radically improve your SEO by using certain tactics and strategies but you should always stay within the green line to ensure success.
Today, we are going to share some of the bad SEO tactics that will end up with getting your website penalized.
Why Are These SEO Tactics Bad?
Black hat SEO practices boost websites that don’t always benefit the users of search engines and only aim to be in search engine robots’ favor. These are manipulative techniques that are used to gain a high ranking and visibility.
This often leaves human readers with irrelevant and spammy content. Both search engines and human individuals work tirelessly to fight this, because the aim of a search engine is to provide users with the most useful content according to their search query. Basically, SEO focuses on making a website better for both the company and its customers.
Any strategy that is unethical, outdated or falls outside of Google’s webmaster guidelines is considered bad SEO. Using these kinds of techniques puts both the user and companies at risk of receiving some heavy penalties, getting de-indexed or having their rank lowered.
Something To Be Aware Of
Even some SEO companies who say “you only have to pay once your website reaches a high rank” tend to use some of these techniques. They will temporarily get your website to rank higher and get their paycheck. Once you receive a penalty or get a lower ranking, they’ll brush it off with something like “the algorithm always changes”.
You should always evaluate a SEO company and ask them about the strategies they use. If you hear about the ones we mention here, you should find another one.
Naturally, not all SEO companies use questionable tactics, so it’s worth the investment once you’ve done your fair share of research.
Bad SEO Tactics to Avoid
Bad SEO tactics aren’t anything new and some might boost a site for a short while but they’ll eventually end up destroying your Google rankings.
Article spinning is a trick used to create multiple articles from a single article. It is done by software that finds synonyms for certain words and replaces them in the article. They are then used to spam the search results in order to manipulate the link graph.
This generates many low quality articles that are often unreadable. They also get penalized by Google eventually.
Keyword and Keyphrase Stuffing
Adding keywords to your website helps your potential customers and users find your website with their queries.
While it might seem logical that the more keywords you add, the easier it is for them to find you, but that isn’t the case. According to general guidelines, your title tag should be 70 characters and your meta description should be 155 characters at max. You can use free online tools to create these tags!
Furthermore, users should be able to read your on-page content without bumping into the same keywords.
The Caveman Cook bakes apple pie today! Learn the completely natural recipe for baking the sweetest apple pie by watching the Caveman Cook’s show. There’s always something fresh to see in the Caveman Cook’s kitchen!
Frustrating, isn’t it? Content like this is difficult to get information out of and is incredibly spammy.
The quality of user experience is always the goal, so be sure to provide your visitor with some good and informative content.
Search engines already know if you’re trying to trick them to give your website a better rank.
Hidden or Invisible Text
It has been a common practice to add some keyword rich text or a long list of keywords and keyphrases to the site, and then hide it.
Changing the font size to 0 or setting the text color to match the website’s background exactly was a good way to keep that text hidden from browsers but stay visible for search engines. This way, the site was able to rank for multiple search terms.
Using hidden text might trick search engines for a short time as hidden text can still be found in the body of the document. If Google detects any hidden text, they could permanently ban your site.
Plagiarism isn’t a good idea, no matter what you are writing. It might seem convenient to copy a few product descriptions here and there but it won’t pay off long term. Copying content from other websites or replicating your own will always harm your SEO. If Google has already found that piece of content somewhere else, they won’t index that page. Just about any content will get buried that search engines see as duplicate.
When search engines find the same text in different places, they have to determine which one is more relevant. They can decide this based on which one is older or has more traffic. Using copied text will damage your website’s trust factor as search engines favor only unique and useful content.
Low Quality Posts and Guest Blogging
Having a guest post an article to your website is a popular and effective way to gain exposure and build links. But it’s always important to consider who is posting to your website.
To avoid having any low quality content posted on your site, always research the blog or website you intend to reach out to. Do they consistently put out high quality content?
Steer clear of getting any low-quality or irrelevant content posted on your site and using over optimized anchor texts.
Buying or Exchanging Links
Google presumes that the more people link to your page, the more reliable it is and the more useful information it shares. So having inbound links is considered a method for ranking your page.
Naturally, this would be pretty easy to exploit and have numerous sites link to you, but search engines always consider the context of those links and the authority of their associated websites. If the search engine sees that you have many suspicious links, you might receive a penalty.
It takes time and effort to build a successful website and receive high-value natural backlinks. Having any kind of paid links will only give you temporary success because Google will find out about it eventually.
Always focus on the quality of your links instead of their quantity.
Using Doorway Pages
Doorway pages are full of keywords and don’t have any actual content. They are created to trick search engines and rank for a specific phrase then send users to a landing page. These pages end up only frustrating users as they provide no value and are filled with spammy content most of the time.
Google is knocking down pages that provide minimalistic, low-quality content that is only made to manipulate search engines and deceive users by navigating them to a different site than what they have chosen.
Creating a Page For Each Keyword/Keypharse
It was once a good tactic to create a page for every keyword variation or keyphrase. It’s easy to understand the logic behind this. You could easily target every keyword and give more pages for search engines to index, thus making yourself appear more relevant.
With Google receiving a number of updates since then, this method is bound to get punished. Nowadays, Google focuses much more on users’ intent, instead of the technical optimization of a webpage. Creating such a structure for your website won’t give you the top results you would imagine.
Not Optimizing Your Images
You can rank your website even if you leave your pictures to their own devices but having images with file names and alt texts will increase your site’s relevancy.
Using Link Farms
Link farms are large websites that are used to grow link popularity with link exchanges. Google probably has them on a list. If not, then they’re bound to be there sooner or later. Using any of these site’s services will be bad for your rankings and will get you penalized. It might be tempting to have one of these companies help, but don’t give into it.
Free Products for Links
Giving someone a product to review then including a link sounds fair enough but it is considered a link scheme by Google. So you’re best off adding rel=”no follow” and avoid passing on any of the link’s juice.
All of the above mentioned tactics are considered shady, black hat SEO tactics. Using them might seem really smart but they could definitely hurt your page rankings if you get caught.
BMW’s website bmw.de got caught after two years for using doorway pages, which naturally demolished their page rank. So, just about any SEO tactic that isn’t too kosher will end up with a penalty one way or another.
There are other, more intelligent and more advanced SEO tactics that you can use to rank your website. Getting your site to a good page rank requires months if not years of work, so make sure you’re not throwing that away for some shady trick that will only provide short success.