Given how important digital marketing has grown, it’s safe to say that it has outperformed any initial expectations it had from the start. With the idea to create a new way to take advantage of potential online consumers, not only has digital marketing done so, it managed to do it as the most cost-effective alternative. This quality has proven to be a convincing factor, especially among new business owners, as it gives them room to find strategies that work best for them. Overall, this success is largely due to a popular digital marketing strategy known as search engine optimization. Also known as SEO, this strategy is essentially a freeway to organically rank a website online.
However, the technicality of this strategy has resulted in the creation of a harmful and destructive method known as “Black-Hat SEO”. In a nutshell, this type of optimization is a form of devious practice against guidelines set by the search engines. They are mostly used to rank a website fast and without any attention. While this might sound like a good strategy on paper, the reality is that using black-hat strategies unethical tactics that are only getting easier to spot by search engines. This is where the importance of understanding black-hat SEO lies. Needless to say, when it comes to SEO, avoid these methods at all costs. In the end, it’s far more beneficial to go through the long process or ranking a website organically instead of risking getting penalized. In extreme cases, using these methods can ultimately signal the end of your business. Now that we understand what black-hat SEO is and why it should be avoided, let’s dive into what exactly to look out for. With this in mind, here are eight techniques to avoid that will affect your Google rankings.
Website mirroring is one of the most important black-hat techniques to look out for as it is harder to avoid than other techniques. Website mirroring is when one website either directly or indirectly copies another website. This could include factors like content copying, headline copying, and other similar forms. That said, if you find some inspiration from one website, don’t go any further than mirroring the structure of the website only.
As mentioned with the website mirroring technique, plagiarising in any way is strictly forbidden by Google. More than anything, this rule applies to the content your website has. Because of this, however, one black-hat strategy was designed to try and get around these rules. Known as content spinning, this technique is a form of copying content by simply changing the sentences and structure around. As clever as that may sound, know that Google is amazing at spotting spun content and are quick to penalize websites that do it.
One of the older forms of these techniques that are somehow still used today is keyword stuffing. Surprisingly, this technique was once allowed in the early stages of SEO on Google. However, once Google’s algorithm figured out that stuffing keywords didn’t always equal relevant content, the change to eliminate keyword stuffing was made. A good way to avoid this technique is to use SEO tools and plugins when writing content.
As SEO heads would know, one of the most important foundational pieces of which SEO is built upon is links. More specifically, links five off trust and authority to a website that boosts a website’s SEO standings. However, just like any other organic SEO strategy, links should also be acquired naturally and within the guidelines. As we can imagine buying links from someone is against these guidelines and will only make your site come off as inorganic within Google’s ranking system.
Anything Using Bots
As technology increased alongside digital marketing, devious techniques such as bots almost caused big problems within the field. Created as a way to optimize on autopilot, bots were once effective in keeping a site steady with content. Nowadays, if Google catches you using bots for any reason, that is an immediate penalization of your website and the chance of being removed from the ranking system altogether.
Within the structure of a website, perhaps the most important ranking factor that Google looks at is content. For the most part, the more informative and relevant your content is, the better it will rank. However, once again, the content should be produced slowly and naturally. Spamming posts and other content within your website will do more harm than good.
Another important technique to look out for regarding your website content is the headline. More specifically, make sure it doesn’t fall within the clickbait category. In other words, don’t make your headline a must-click headline that will send visitors to an unrelated page. Remember that SEO is all about creating relevant content to relevant pages. Anything that doesn’t fall within those rules will not succeed in the long run.
Bait & Switch Ranking
Last but not least, the bait & switch technique is arguably one of the most harmful techniques you can use. This is not so much because of how it works but more so because it doesn’t get more black-hat than this technique. As far as what it is, this technique is the process of disguising links to rank for a keyword and changing the site completely once your website ranks highly enough. Simply put, it’s a dirty move and should be penalized to the fullest extent.
SEO In A Nutshell
In a nutshell, SEO is all about being patient within your niche. While the immediate benefits of using black-hat techniques are persuasive, understand that Google is only getting more strict with their guidelines and will not hesitate to eliminate those who don’t play by them. That said, if you want absolutely no worries about accidentally using one of these strategies, it might be best to partner with SEO specialists that are better geared in strategizing more white-hat solutions. This way, you can focus on other areas of your business in a way that will allow you to grow at your own pace.