In the rat race that is online marketing, there is a definite need to stay ahead of the competition. This is especially pronounced when it comes to something measurable like search engine rankings. If your website isn’t on the first page of Google’s search results, you may as well not exist. While striving to achieve the best results, there are some things that you shouldn’t do, since they can cause your rank to drop and get your website blacklisted. We are going to take a look at 10 black hat SEO practices to keep away from.
What is black hat SEO?
First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page by defining what we are talking about. Black hat SEO practices include techniques used to trick search engines into ranking a particular website higher. It’s not just about being smarter than the algorithm; black hat practices purposefully go around the rules. Such methods are against the terms of service given by the search engines. Contrary to black hat tactics, there are also white hat approaches that try to boost SEO naturally. Over time, black hat SEO has become frowned upon, and your best course of action is just boosting SEO the right way.
Algorithms that govern the search results have gotten smarter over the years. If bad practices are detected, there is usually a penalty and a drop in rank. This can further lead to a loss of organic visitors to the website.
Avoiding mistakes in the first place
Instead of getting your website flagged as spam, you should strive to achieve long-term results. Try to gain an organic following over time by genuinely offering value to your website visitors. You should play by the rules of the algorithm and not try to cheat them for short-term gain. Beware of phony experts offering miracle solutions for your website since they may be using black hat practices. If you need help boosting SEO for your website, you should hire competent experts you can trust completely. Professionals who know what they are doing can get the job done in a legitimate fashion which won’t get your site flagged.
10 black hat SEO practices to keep away from:
1. Hidden text
Including text on your page that isn’t meant for the user but is there just for the browser to pick up on is a big red flag. This relates to both keywords and links that don’t add content to the page but are there just to score more search matches. Text can be hidden in several ways, such as making the font too small or setting the color of the text to match the background. Sometimes the text isn’t visible at all and is positioned behind an image or off the screen.
2. Keyword Stuffing
Finding the right keywords to get more hits for the things people are searching for is a legitimate SEO tactic. Taking it too far is another thing entirely. Repeating keywords as many times as possible will definitely draw the attention of the search engine, but it might not be the type of attention you want. There isn’t an exact magic number you need to hit; just avoid repeating the same keyword ad nauseam. Make your sentences sound natural, and don’t contort them just to mention the keyword again.
3.Duplicate or cloned content
Google greatly values websites that offer content to users. However, outputting regular content is a lot of work. A common black hat tactic is to generate multiple pages with the same content and minimal changes. This is especially egregious when listing multiple pages where only the locations are different. Local citations are important, but you should do them without duplicating content. Reputable websites host quality content, and every single page on them matters.
4.Chatbot comment spamming
Spamming comments and likes no longer works as a tactic. Search engines go the extra mile to make sure they only reward organic engagement. Chatbots that just spam comment sections should be a thing of the past. Nowadays, AI chatbots are used to engage website visitors by offering information and answering questions.
5. Purchasing links
Search engines favor pages with a strong link network. Unfortunately, it takes time to build up a large number of interlinked pages. Even so, you shouldn’t give in to temptation and buy links. Artificially linked pages in a short period will raise suspicion and give you bad search engine karma. The linked pages need to hold relevant content, not just more links that endlessly loop back to each other.
6. Misleading or unrelated links
Users should know what to expect when they click on something. If that link takes them to an unrelated page – that could be interpreted as content cloaking by the search engine. Cloaking links is a black hat SEO practice to keep away from since it could get you penalized and end up costing you traffic. Links on any given page need to lead to places that are relevant to the content being discussed.
7. Spamming social networks
Having accounts on social media networks is a good idea for any business wanting to promote itself. However, some practices take things a step too far. Posting an update about your product or service is one thing, but immediately sharing that same post in order to gain more on-page activity is counterproductive. Setting up a script that Tweets the same message every few minutes is another good way to lose favor with the search engine algorithms. Not to mention that these black hat practices can also cause you to lose followers on those networks.
8. Link exchanges
This practice is also called link farming, and it constitutes a group of websites agreeing to link each other’s content. The links can go back and forth, creating a seemingly vast network. However, search engines have gotten smarter and judge the quality of pages that you link to. Basically, if you lead users to a page that is blacklisted, you could end up losing karma as well.
9. Abusing rich snippets and structured data
Out of all the black hat SEO practices to keep away from, you should never go down this route as it is direct fraud. Manipulating structured data, like star ratings on product reviews, could land you in serious trouble.
10. Doorway pages
Setting up multiple doorway or gateway pages to target specific searches and keywords, only to lead users to one page, violates Google’s policy. Spamming the index of search engines with fake pages that take users elsewhere will frustrate both users and search engines.
The bottom line
Like we already stated, every page on your website needs to serve a purpose. Be proud of the content you offer, and load it with actual value for visitors. Make sure you don’t anger Google’s almighty algorithm with these 10 black hat SEO practices to keep away from. Have all of the content you create be geared towards users, not search engines.
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