However, there are techniques you could employ to achieve that coveted top spot, that you need to avoid, lest you run the risk of suffering Google’s wrath. Because mark our words, Google and the other search engines do not take kindly to websites adopting nefarious SEO techniques in order to get to page one.
So, to stay on Google’s good side, here are 13 black hat SEO techniques to avoid if you don’t want your website to be severely punished.
What is black hat SEO?
Before we delve into what black hat SEO techniques you should avoid, let’s first turn our attention to what black hat SEO actually is.
Black hat SEO includes SEO practices that go against the guidelines as laid out by the individual search engines. In essence, black hat SEO are those approaches that involve websites cheating, buying or faking their way to page one, beating the search engine algorithms in order to take advantage of them.
And the search engines do not like cheats.
Black hat SEO is a shady practice and one that should be avoided at all costs, because if you’re caught employing any black hat SEO techniques, you will be punished.
And punishments can be as mild as being knocked down a page or two in the SERP, to being disappeared altogether. It won’t just be your site that suffers, but your business too. Because the fewer visitors you get, the fewer sales conversions you’ll get.
13 black hat SEO techniques to avoid
- Content Automation. Content automation is where website owners use software to automatically generate content without any effort on their parts. This content is published routinely on their sites and is created solely for search engines, not for the readers themselves. It is barely legible, poorly formatted and bares little to no relevance to what the reader was looking for.
- Doorway Pages. (Or gateway pages) are pages that are packed full of keywords, meaning the results rank highly in SERP, but when visitors click on the links they’re immediately taken somewhere else altogether, not where they expected to go, usually a totally unrelated page.
- Hidden Text, Tiny Text or Links. This is where you write text in the same colour as the background page, usually keyword stuffing, so that the article reads well to the casual observer, but sends the search engine’s autobots into overdrive as they’re the only ones that can ‘see’ the hidden text. Or where you pack invisible links onto a page in a bid to increase your link building.
- Keyword Stuffing. Repeating a keyword over and over until the text is unreadable.
- Reporting a Competitor (or Negative SEO). This is properly shady, because it quite simply involves sabotaging your competitor by creating spammy links to their site, copying their content and republishing it all over the web, creating fake social profiles and running a smear campaign or taking down the top backlinks to their site.
- Sneaky Redirects. Sending visitors to a different URL from the one they originally clicked on. Of course there are legitimate reasons to redirect visitors, such as when you’re moving sites, however, you wouldn’t be sneaky about that, you’d likely let visitors know what you were doing, so you’re not penalised.
- Cloaking. Cloaking is where you present one picture of your site to visitors, and a completely different site to the search engines. Doing this means your visitors are expecting one type of content, when in fact they’re presented with something entirely different all together.
- Link Schemes. Agreeing to scratch someone else’s back if they scratch yours for the sole purpose of increasing your SERP is hugely frowned upon. Google don’t want websites to have reciprocal links, they want websites to have natural links, created by other sites wanting to link to them because of their authority and relevancy.
- Link Manipulation (including buying links). You will never get that abundance of great links that you think you paid for. What you’ll get is a series of spammy links that will hurt your rating, not help it. Buying links is not the same as building relationships and creating links naturally.
- Article Spinning. Generating content automatically using spinning software. This type of content is not of any benefit to readers and most of the time it doesn’t make sense anyway, as it is just the same series of words, but in a different order to the previous text, to avoid detection by the search engine spiders.
- Link Farms, Link Wheels or Link Networks. This is where you increase your authority by manipulating your inbound links, to make you appear more popular than you actually are.
- Rich Snippet Markup Spam. Rich snippets are supposed to summarise the content of your pages in order to allow visitors to decide which sites are going to be the most relevant to them. Marking up these snippets using content that is invisible to readers, or using irrelevant or misleading content is not cool.
- Automated Queries to Google. This is where you employ software to repeatedly send automated queries to Google in order to increase the number of searches for your particular keyword or phrase, with the aim of boosting your SERP. It won’t make you look like there’s lots of people desperate to find you, it will just make you look desperate.