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Are you hurting your own SEO? There is a good chance that you are, and you probably don’t even know you’re doing it! While some people purposefully implement ‘cheat’ SEO tactics, you may be doing ‘Black Hat’ SEO techniques and not even realise.
The term black hat originates from Western films where the bad guys would wear ‘black hats’ and the good guys would be dressed in ‘white hats’. You’re not a bad guy are you? Let’s put on our white hats and give the bad guys a run for their money!
Black hat SEO ‘hacks’ can get you blacklisted by Google and other search engines. If you’re caught search engines will penalise you with a large down rank, and can even take your website out of the browser. It’s an extremely complicated process to get un-blacklisted, so let’s make sure we stay on the right side of the law.
Stop Keyword Stuffing
“What?” you say, “Keyword rich content is vital to search engine ranking!”. And you’re dead right: high quality, engaging, and unique keyword relevant content is a vital component of successful SEO.
But when keyword relevance becomes keyword stuffing it can be extremely detrimental to your SEO. Keyword stuffing is when you put keywords, phrases or numbers numerous times on a certain page, so much so that it starts to read as gibberish.
We find that keyword stuffing is usually well-intentioned, or perhaps misguided at worst. It’s often the result of a desire to deepen the SEO relevance of a page, without adequately considering the quality of the content.
Sadly keyword stuffing is all-too common. It happens a lot when offshore SEO agencies are engaged: they write content to improve your SEO relevance, but their limited command of the English language leads to very poor content.
“Okay, so how do I know if my page is Keyword stuffed?” Thankfully this is pretty easily resolved. Google’s algorithm purportedly uses a metric similar to Flesh–Kincaid Readability Tests. And there are a number of free online tools to check your site’s content for readability.
One such tool is Read-Able, which allows you to input a URL and find it’s readability score using a number of different metrics.
Stop Dodgy Backlinks
Yes, getting quality backlinks is critical to SEO success. But in the same way that a great backlink acts as a vote for the authority and credibility of your site, a suspicious or spammy backlink can act as a red flag for Google’s search algorithms – AKA the “Search Police”. If you’re associated with shady sites, then you are at risk of being considered a shady site yourself!
A common source of dodgy backlinks is free and paid directory sites. We all use director sites for backlinks; they are certainly the easiest way to get links. But while some directory links are ok, many are seen as spammy, and as a black hat technique.
Before you list yourself on any directory, look into how ‘above-board’ the directory site is and ideally only list yourself on well-known and respected sites such as Yellow Pages or True Local, and industry-specific directory sites that are relevant to your products and services.
The second common source of bad backlinks is link farming. Link farms are a site or a group of sites that exist for the sole purpose of increasing the link popularity of another site through link exchanges
This involves seeking links from or link to sites with unrelated or low quality content in an attempt to improve visibility in the SERPs. What usually seems like a normal webpage is actually full of hyperlinks, which are usually irrelevant to the site being linked to.
You would have thought that link farming went the way of the dinosaurs years ago, but alas, it still rears it’s ugly head from time to time. Say no to link farms!
Cloaking is one of the most widely known, and honestly, evilest, black hat techniques. It involves deceiving search engine bots by showing them something different that what you show human users.
This is achieved by taking your website user to a different web page, or showing different content, than what they were expecting when they clicked on your site. For example, you make your web code tell Google that you are taking users to a website about computer reviews, when really your website is about something entirely different, like selling Christmas decorations.
The Search Police are trained detect such activities, and if they find you, well, let’s just say it isn’t going to be pretty.
Your website will incur a huge penalty ranking wise, and may even be banned from the search engine completely. Which just undoes any legit SEO that you have done. Our verdict? It’s not worth it.
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