The dark arts of SEO have been around almost as long as search engines have existed. Loop holes and ways to exploit the system were quickly discovered in the early 2000’s, when people were first beginning to discover the incredible possibilities of search engines. There are many, many different ‘black-hate’ SEO techniques out there, over time Google has become more and more aware of them and come up with strategies to try and fight sneaky practices that can be harmful to users. Here are a few of the more common black hat practices you might come across below.
Keywords have long been a ranking factor for web pages. Once upon a time, they were by far the most important ranking factor when it comes to SERP. The new algorithms are far more complex and take into account many more signals, changing the weighting of keywords slightly, although they remain one of the key factors in determining ranking. A common practice back in the day used to be what is known as ‘keyword stuffing’. Website owners discovered that if they inserted keywords as many times as possible into text, this could lead to improved rankings. This lead to content that was barely legible, didn’t flow naturally and made little to no sense and became known as keyword stuffing. This is now penalized by Google. Keyword stuffing hurts the overall quality of content and impacts on user experience, so websites that use the practice will now find that their sites take a tumble in the search ranking or stop appearing altogether.
It is far better to have content that flows naturally and uses keywords in a way that makes sense to human readers. Google now takes note of keyword density, so it’s important to ensure that keywords do not appear too heavily throughout a passage of text, to avoid penalties.
Too much of anything is never good! Sometimes web master will create internal links everywhere, even in places on their sites that are not practical or make little sense. Links are great, but they should add value and not take away from the over usual experience.
Cloaking basically involves showing Google one piece of content, whilst showing your users something entirely different. Cloaking practices are sneaky and often heavily penalized by Google. You should avoid cloaking practices because it can severely impact on the rating for your site.
Too many H1’s
Over-doing the H1’s on your website can confuse the search engine on what your content is about and what the key pieces of information are. This can result in your website not appearing in the search results for important terms at all, as the algorithm cannot tell what your content is supposed to relate to. Your content should be organized around what keywords and audience you are most hoping to target, you can do this by using different attributes, like H1’s , H2’s and H3’s. It’s best to only make your title, or the most important information on your page H1.
Copying content is a poor practice that leads to cannibalization across the web. Google usually will not display multiple results for the same content, so copying content increases the likelihood that your page will not display at all or that you will confuse the algorithm, resulting in a dip in results.
There are many more black-hat practices out there that can lead to poor results or penalties, but these are just a few to keep in mind. These practices might have once worked, but things have changed so it’s important to avoid them.
Tina Johnson helped bring The Marketing Folks from a-weekly newsletter to a full-fledged news site by creating a new website and branding. She continues to assist in keeping the site responsive and well organized for the readers. As a contributor to The Marketing Folks, Tara mainly covers industry new.