When it comes to site performance, people do so many irrelevant things along with using shady SEO techniques. These practices are called as black hat SEO and those who use them don’t follow the search engine guidelines that we stick to.
Some website owners implement these tactics for fooling the system to get more traffic. You can experiment these SEO techniques without getting realized about it. While thinking about improving your website performance, you are quite enthusiastic to use all the techniques and so might enter the unsafe territory when SEO comes into spotlight.
If you start following a wrong track, you will realize it only when your site gets penalized. You will understand this only when you check the ranking of your keywords and find that those are dropped badly. Also, the rankings that you had achieved by following rules would be gone.
The site owner can get into such a situation when he relies on outdated information about SEO best practices, makes a mistake in current advice or implements SEO tips that come from a irrelevant source.
In this article, you will get to learn about black hat SEO and ways to stay away from it. Also, you will learn the dos and don’ts for SEO.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO means implementing illegal practices for manipulating a website’s ranking on search results pages.
To rank in top search results for certain keywords is a prime objective of any business growth. But if you try to achieve this in a wrong way, it can backfire your website. In case you still use unethical methods for SEO and see positive impact, it will remain just for a short period. Remember that may it be Google or any other search engine, it will find your tricks and penalize your site for using such techniques.
With black hat SEO, not only the rankings get dropped but also it creates a misleading or offensive experience for site visitors.
Search engines are expert in detecting the black hat SEO techniques and always make an improvement in their ability to detect such unethical techniques. If you get caught then there’s no escape. The short-term spike in your rankings using black hat SEO techniques won’t prove worth enough to repair the damage to your best presence in the search results.
Seven SEO Tactics You Should Completely Avoid
I have already suggested in the introduction that there are some black hat SEO techniques that someone might use or implement without knowing them. Additionally, other SEO techniques such as page hijacking and automated Google queries are so wrong that I haven’t included them in this article.
Continue reading to learn about the seven bad SEO tactics that might be considered as right by mistake or you may use them accidently.
1. Sending Search Engines to One Place and Humans to Another
While focusing on your SEO improvement tactics, you should see your website in the same way as the search engines see. Using tools such as BROWSEO help you to do that. It helps you in identifying legitimate opportunities for improving your ranking.
However, if you create two versions of your website – one for humans and other for search engines, you have taken a wrong track.
This technique is referred to as cloaking and experts find it by detecting the type of user that requests a query. In case of search engine, a script is run on the web server that sends a counterfeit version of the site contents. The fake version comprises of the content which the real site doesn’t.
Cloaking is generally done to mislead search engines. You can detect that a black hat SEO technique has worked, when a page is returned in search results that would otherwise not be there.
Redirecting search engines can have many valid reasons depending on the type of user that is accessing your site. For instance sending a mobile device user to a version of your content optimized for mobile devices is always good and makes sense. Also, it sounds sensible to redirect international visitors to a version of site in their language.
If you aren’t creating your site’s version just for the search engines, you aren’t cloaking.
2. Misusing Keywords
It is always good to do the research to get the target keywords for your site’s SEO, but how you use those keywords is what matters. If someone wants to desperately gain traffic, they might stuff keywords into their content and everywhere possible including some places that might make you wonder.
When content includes multiple variations of keywords, it becomes less readable for humans and also, it won’t please the search engines.
You will also find a block of keywords in text color similar to the background color of a website which makes the text disappear. Keywords are even included in the anchor text. But for your information Google can easily detect these strategies and would surely damage your SEO.
Though the keywords aren’t visible, but forcefully including them in your content is called as keyword stuffing which used to work prior. Google earlier considered a high density of keywords as a proof of site being searched with those terms.
But the search engine’s algorithms have changed a lot and this isn’t considered a good practice now. In fact sites that still follow this practice get heavily penalized. Today, Google closely monitors keyword density and if it finds the content is filled with multiple keywords, it will take your site at the bottom of the search results.
3. Giving High Priority to SEO Than Content Quality
In the race for higher rankings and improved performance, some site owners get confused in what’s really important. They significantly focus on SEO and make the content of their website as a secondary concern.
Anyone can easily get trapped in this, but, soon, it will result into hurting your site’s ranking. Below are few ways that ignoring content quality can turn into black hat SEO:
- Article spinning: Article spinning means to grab the content from a high-ranking page (on other site), making a few changes to it and using it on your website. Offenders also have a bot to do this work and the results are so funny with keywords packed that one can’t stop laughing. May it be done manually or by using an automated tool, the doer aims at just changing the content to trick the duplicate content check of search engines. However, the changes in search engines’ algorithms have made it very easy to detect this technique.
- Publishing duplicate content: This is similar to article spinning, but in this you borrow the content from yourself. In case you’ve written a few paragraphs for your home page that have purely come from your mind, but you reuse different versions of some of those sentences all over your site, it is called as publishing duplicate content. Search engines notice the use of content and get your ranking to the bottom.
- Keyword stuffing: This practice is already mentioned above, but it’s so common and needs extra attention. When your content is just overfed with keywords, it makes it unreadable. This indicates that you’ve wandered off from acceptable SEO practices and created an ugly site for your users. It’s a complete lose-lose scenario.
Publish content that will rank high. This simple rule will delight your visitors and you will give search engines what they like.
4. Using Redirects Purposely
You might have faced a situation when you clicked on redirected link and it took you somewhere you weren’t expecting to navigate to.
Though this practice won’t seem to be acceptable, there are some valid reasons behind employing a redirect. It is considered as a normal part of running a website. Basically, when a site owner changes domains, he uses redirects legitimately or combines two pieces of content into one.
However, it’s very common to see corrupt site owners misusing redirects. They use them to cloak their mistakes by redirecting all visitors and the search engine to other page.
Some might even redirect a high-ranking page to a low-ranking page in the greed of increasing the lower page’s ranking in the search results.
Those using black hat SEO also use redirects to fool users to visit a website without realizing it. Although it might result in improved rankings and high traffic but that would be temporary. Also, it will be violation of Google’s terms of service and sites that use redirects in such a way will be badly penalized.
5. Spamming of Any Kind
Black hat SEO depends on spam for its bread and butter and social media outlets are the first one to get targeted. Site owners that use this trick will post some absurd links via social media. No doubt they are aware that their posts aren’t actually valuable. But they post it in the greediness of getting a temporary hike for their site in the search results.
Spamming via guest posting is also a very common act. Site owners ask other sites to publish their guest articles on other sites and will publish other people’s guest articles in order to get a backlink. That’s okay if the shared content is relevant to both sites. But in case there isn’t any relevancy in the two sites involved, the obvious reason is just for SEO purpose and won’t add value to any of the sites.
Comment spamming is also a type of spam that might harm your SEO. You might have gone through some blog posts that have multiple comments which are off-topic or contain keywords that aren’t related to the post. The comments also include telltale signs which indicate that those are generated by bots. This practice is used by some site owners to get backlinks and traffic to their site.
Google has the ability to learn about spam-based tactics from a mile away and spammers can expect severe impacts.
6. Buying or Swapping Backlinks
Backlinks play a key role in determining how search engines rank your site. Some backlinks increase your rankings, while some take them down. It is always better to take backlinks from high-authority sites.
With backlinks, search engines get a sign that others have approved your content. Search engines check the number of sites that link to you as well as the quality and quantity of the links. The factors such as authority, age, relevancy and content length are checked by search engines for the backlinks.
It is expected by the search engines that you publish a high-quality content which attracts good backlinks organically. In case, you get the links using other ways, your site won’t escape from getting penalized with a low ranking.
You should avoid the below things:
- Link swapping: In this, a site owner finds any site (even completely irrelevant) whose owner needs a backlink similar to you and swaps with you. It is easily detectable by the search engines and will bring your ranking much more down as compared to helping to rank high temporarily.
- Link farms: Link farm is a collection of websites that exists just to direct people to your site. Being a number game, each referring page ultimately gains a small amount of relevancy for its niche which is passed on to the target site.
- Private blog networks: Private Blog Network (PBN) are a group of websites that are created only for link-building. Those using black hat SEO build the network using high-authority domains that have expired, publish the content, and include the links to a target site in it. Similar to a link farm, a PBN’s purpose is to make it appear a website with lot of backlinks. However, search engines don’t require taking efforts to smell out a PBN, and sites that use them for getting links are severely penalized.
- Pay-for-play directories: If you pay to get listed in a low-authority directory, it will damage your SEO as it be a low-quality link. These types of links are very cheap and offer you what you want. Don’t forget Google knows what to check for when identifying purchased backlinks and so avoid buying links from any source.
If anyone doesn’t know what they are doing is wrong, one might get engaged in these black hat SEO tactics. Site owners that are new to the game can get carried away in their efforts to boost their website’s performance. In case you have swapped links with more than one or two sites, or paid for a backlink, you can immediately ask those links be removed.
7. Compromising Your Structured Data
While searching for something on Google, you might have observed some sites with several extra elements in their listing. That include a review, a product image or a short excerpt straight from the home page. These are the things that can grab the attention of visitors and make the listing more outstanding than others in same niche.
A special form of markup called structured data or rich snippets is used by savvy website owners to improve their site’s appearance in search results. This is just a perfect thing to do, but some people misuse it.
They fill this data with keywords and include wrong or misleading information for ranking higher. You will commonly find falsified reviews and invalid claims in rich snippets. This black hat SEO technique can not only trick search engines but humans too.
If a fake five-star review is included in the site’s structured data, the site will not only get a high ranking (temporarily) but also receive heavy traffic. This will result into disappointed visitors when they learn the truth.
Google has requested people to report the websites that exploit structured data. So, if you get into such practice, be ready for the outcomes.
Always go for Organic SEO
Always post a quality content that comprises of correct keyword density, backlinks from high-authority websites and honest redirects. This will help you to improve your site’s performance. Remember shortcuts will put you into trouble.
The laziest black hat SEO techniques too require efforts and so, it’s better to take efforts on improving your SEO legitimately. If you gain spike in your website’s performance via black hat SEO, it won’t last longer as the search engines will quickly notice it and penalize your site.
If you honestly follow the algorithms of search engines for SEO, you would end up having a positive impact on your website rankings. You won’t face any penalties from search engines.
Lastly, stop following those shady SEO practices to help your website perform well.