Google continuously updates its algorithm in a bid to improve the user experience by delivering the most valuable results. Black Hat SEO- Apart from the updates, Google also provides Webmaster Guidelines, so everyone knows the rules of the game, from SEO professionals to web developers.
Of course, there are those who try to win this game without following the rules, and that’s what we call Black Hat SEO.
It’s not that people who practice black hat SEO don’t know the rules. In fact, they know the rules all too well and try to take shortcuts that go against Google’s best practices.
Of course, this means that white hat SEO comprises of practices such as following the Webmaster Guidelines, promoting high-quality content, and engaging in deep keyword research. Sometimes, however, SEO specialists might mistakenly engage in black hat practices.
Either way, Google is quite effective at identifying black hat SEO techniques and penalizes them heavily, but there are those that still try it. Therefore, to avoid any manual or algorithmic penalty from the almighty Google, here are seven black hat SEO techniques that you should avoid at all costs:
Plagiarized Web Content and Article Spinning
Duplicate or plagiarized content is any content that is present on the internet in multiple places. The content doesn’t need to be identical to be deemed plagiarized. It can be eerily similar, too; Google refers to it as “appreciably similar.”
Whether intentional or not, plagiarized content can hurt your traffic significantly. This occurs because of two main factors:
- Firstly, Google won’t show two identical or almost identical versions of the same content, and the algorithm must choose which version to show, which can dilute the visibility of the duplicate content.
- Secondly, it can affect your link juice as sites linking back to yours will also need to pick between the duplicates. Since inbound links contribute to the ranking, this practice can significantly hurt it.
The same goes for article spinning, which is quite similar to plagiarized content and involves rewriting the content. Done manually or through article spinning software, Google will still penalize ‘spun content.’
Both plagiarized or spun content can land you in hot waters with Google, which is why you should always aim for original content. Bonus tip: if using similar content is unavoidable, you should mark the page as “nofollow” and “noindex.”
Keyword Stuffing | Black Hat SEO
This is one of the black hat SEO techniques that people are prone to practice mistakenly because there was a time when keyword stuffing worked. Including as many keywords as possible was once the goal, but it has been a few years since Google corrected that.
If you’re wondering why, the answer is simple: keyword stuffing led to pages cluttered with the same keywords and not nearly enough relevant or helpful information. Today, however, keyword stuffing is strongly discouraged and can lead you straight to a penalty because now SEO is all about the customer experience.
Link Building Outreach
Link Building is a legitimate white hat SEO technique, and it’s a common one as well. Any industry that maintains a blog practices (or should practice) link building because it gets you more traffic, brand mentions, links.
It is hugely beneficial for your website, and every business needs a link-building strategy. However, recently black hat SEO has corrupted it. Take guest posting, for instance, where black hats are the epitome of spam emailing.
Website owners with a decent following get tons of emails requesting a guest post. Of course, not all requests for guest posts are black hat SEO, but they’ll most likely demand a follow link, which gives them the opportunity to boost their visibility using your resources.
To make sure the guest posts are legitimate, assess their pitch and find out if the site is convincing.
Acquiring strong backlinks from credible sites can be a long process, and it requires a lot of resources and time. Because of this very reason, black hat SEO will try to exchange links for money, to avoid the time and resource-consuming process of gaining links through real connections.
If you’re buying links for ranking without actually putting in the effort, you’re going against Webmaster Guidelines provided by Google. However, you can buy links for advertising, which is allowed, but don’t try it for rankings manipulation.
Going Overboard with Above-The-Fold Ads
Above-the-fold refers to the part of your webpage that the users see before they scroll down. This typically includes images, forms, texts, and anything your eyes can fixate on before you scroll down.
Your above-the-fold should always look great because it helps users decide whether they want to stay on your site. It’s essentially your chance to make a good first impression. The catch is that Google considers time spent on the website when it comes to your ranking factor.
Therefore, if your above-the-fold is attractive and informative, your search rankings will be higher. However, black hat SEO involves including too many ads in the above-the-fold as it negates the user experience and can cost you visibility.
For SEO marketing, Google allows ads, as long as they are in line with the Ads Policies, so to avoid this black hat SEO, try to distribute the ads throughout the page. Bonus tip: avoid including too many ads, or Google will flag your site.
Black hat SEO leans heavily on Clickbaiting through headlines by manipulating emotions such as fear, greed, and guilt. These emotions can honestly be incorporated in your headlines, but when you’re manipulative about it, and your only goal is to get the users to click, that’s bad hat SEO.
We’re all familiar with these spammy clickbait headlines, and some of us might even be guilty of clicking on a few. Such headlines violate Google’s policies, and you should steer clear of them. Make your headlines relevant, honest, and optimized for search engines.
Doorway or Gateway Pages
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to black hat SEO, and Google recently started a crackdown on doorway pages. Websites that already had them had to delete them or risk being wiped off completely.
Doorway pages are essentially pages that redirect you to another page that has the content you actually clicked on. This black hat SEO technique is used commonly to boost rankings and should be avoided completely.
In short, you should always look to avoid these black hat SEO techniques as they can significantly hurt your SEO campaign.
About The Author
Aaron Tyler is a Senior Account Manager at the reputable digital marketing company Search Berg. He specializes in providing content marketing services and conversion rate optimization. Throughout his career, Aaron has helped thousands of small businesses and startups in skyrocketing their rankings, sales, and conversions. In addition, he regularly writes digital marketing blogs for the Search Bergblog.
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