Black Hat SEO – That Will Get Your Website Banned by Google
Black hat SEO refers to the various techniques used by websites to rank higher on search engines, while simultaneously contravening their rules. These often make user experiences less agreeable, while increasing traffic by tricking web crawlers. There are many black hat SEO techniques employed by webpages in attempts to gain higher SERPs, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll be focusing on six of the most common ones.

Illegitimately acquired backlinks: Multiple backlinks to your webpages is a guaranteed way of improving your site’s SERP. Towards this end, many web publishers go to extreme lengths to have others link to their pages. However, many of these are considered dirty tricks. One of the more heinous black hat SEO techniques is when one website pays another to post articles containing their links. If discovered, either website could face any of a number of penalties. This was the case in 2011 with JC Penny, when it was discovered they were paying for links. Therefore, rather than using dirty tricks to improve SEO and risking reprimand, it’s better to simply create quality content and wait for people to link to your site.

Doorway Pages: These are pages created to trick search engine spiders into giving a website higher index ratings. For instance, users can input search queries and receive results leading to a particular site; however, this result will lead nowhere or to a totally unrelated page. This happens because these pages don’t really exist and will never actually be seen by users; they are put in place to make search engines think that a site has higher traffic than it does. Google’s regular updating policy has been targeted at eliminating these types of search engine results, and can lead to your site being labelled as spam and subsequently banned. This was the case with BMW, who were banned in 2006 for their doorway pages. Consequently, you should strive to find out if you have any such pages and work towards removing them.

Keyword Stuffing: Anyone vaguely familiar with the algorithms that determine SERP will understand the importance of keywords to SEO. Keywords provide search engines with a fair idea of what a page contains. A well placed keyword will make all the difference between whether or not your page will rank highly within search engine results. Previously, people would take advantage of this by adding multiple mentions of keywords to an article in order to attract search engine spiders and have them award higher index ratings. Since the advent of synapse search, SEO organisations have recognised this is an outdated technique which no longer has any positive effects on a page’s search engine ranking. For a while now, Google’s algorithm has adjusted to other means of determining a page’s relevance, beyond the frequency of a keyword’s mention.

Hidden Text: This is yet another underhanded way of attracting search engine crawlers. It involves including unrelated texts or links (often multiple times on one page) in a way that isn’t obvious to users. This is of course a major violation of terms implemented by Google and undertaken by adding unrelated links or texts; changing the font to white; setting it against a white background; having the font reduced to zero; hiding the picture behind other images; or any number of similar underhand ways.

In many cases, those hiding texts in their pages are found and labelled as spam or other actions that subsequently lead to huge drops in page rankings. For this reason, it’s a good idea to ensure any information contained within your webpage is displayed conspicuously, to avoid being labelled as spam.

Duplicated or Slim content: Creating content isn’t easy, especially when a site is considered stale, simply because content is not updated daily. To attract traffic, a publisher must try to cover as many subjects as possible and at regular intervals. Older posts are often relegated in favour of newer ones and search engines won’t rank your page highly if it’s not closely related to the search word or phrase in question.

To get past this, many website publishers will simply copy content from older posts and republish them, in the belief that this isn’t plagiarism, seeing as it’s from the same website. This is not the case though, as Google has taken steps to prevent its crawlers from giving high indexes to posts with identical copy or too closely related.

Equally unfavourable is the practice of creating articles which feature little or no content. This is carried out so that pages appear in search engine results for queries, whilst sidestepping the process of actually creating content. Though this might be difficult, it’s best to take the time and effort to create adequate and original content. This might require help, but it will surely pay off with increased traffic.

Cloaking: This is a technique whereby a webpage is altered so that the content displayed to users is different from that seen by search engine crawlers. Again, this is undertaken mainly as a way of obtaining higher indexing. In these situations, the search engine crawlers checking the page are redirected to another page that contains content worthy of a higher rating.

Often, users will be directed to pages with an overabundance of ads and hidden links, which would otherwise have left the site with a much lower index rating. Cloaking your webpages will often lead to your site being banned from Google.

James Cummings is a leading digital marketing expert, brand analyst and business psychologist. He’s an experienced senior manager who has worked closely with global brands to deliver staffing solutions. He has interfaced at board level with FTSE 100 companies and successfully managed multiple web projects across different niches to their full cycle. Working with a team of top level digital media professionals from around the globe, James’ Wordpress portfolio currently spans over 40 properties.