Search engine optimization is an essential part of any website. The more you can boost your ranking in the search results, the more likely customers are to buy from you. The undeniable benefits of a high ranking will, unfortunately, prompt some people to employ less than ethical methods to gain those high rankings. These unsavory tactics are collectively known as black hat SEO.
Black hat SEO, whether done intentionally or not, can significantly harm your website’s ranking in Google search results. Avoid these unethical SEO strategies. #ITVibes #SEO #searchengineoptimization #blackhatSEO Click To Tweet
Dealing with SEO Manipulation
Fortunately, Google is improving its process to recognize black hat SEO and penalize websites using it. While this means unsavory websites rightly are far less visible, it can also harm legitimate websites that employ these tactics without realizing it. To protect your website from a Google citation, avoid these no-longer-acceptable forms of SEO:
- Keyword stuffing
- Invisible text
- Doorway pages
1) Keyword Stuffing
Have you ever scrolled to the bottom of a webpage to see a bunch of seemingly random words listed under the normal content? This is a rather blatant example of keyword stuffing, the practice of shoving relevant keywords and phrases wherever there’s room without regard for content. This is the mark of a lazy web developer just trying to play the system.
A subtler form of keyword stuffing occurs in the content itself. Sometimes, you may read an awkwardly worded sentence or notice a phrase that seems out of place. In this case, the author has at least provided otherwise helpful content. Unfortunately, an obsession with using every possible keyword can cripple excellent writing and result in a less than pleasant user experience. Keywords are certainly important. But enjoyable, beneficial content is still king.
Pro Tip: A tool like SEMRush SEO Writing Assistant can help you find relevant keywords for your content. However, use those keywords wisely to avoid keyword stuffing or boring your readers.
2) Invisible Text
Sometimes, keyword stuffing takes place in an even subtler way. Those long lists of random words and phrases may be disguised as part of the website’s background, matching the color perfectly. The result is a list invisible to most users but very prominent to search engines. This method is designed to trick SEO crawlers into believing the website offers huge amounts of content on a particular topic, when the developer is simply playing the system. Even if this method seems tempting, don’t use it! Google has long since deemed this practice unethical and will penalize websites that try it.
3) Doorway Pages
Doorway pages take advantage of redirecting to fool search engines. A poor-quality page, group of pages, or even an entire website is created to rank very highly for a particular keyword. When a user clicks on the link, instead of seeing the high-ranking site, they’re redirected to the developer’s “real” website. This bait-and-switch tactic tricks users into visiting a website they likely wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Many users resent this trick, and Google agrees. Sites that are discovered to be using doorway pages are actively targeted and penalized by modern search engine capabilities.
Don’t Sabotage Your Website with Black Hat SEO Techniques
The whole point of SEO is to communicate to Google and your customers that you have something worthwhile to contribute. If your tactics are legitimate and you offer excellent content, you’ve earned a high ranking. However, your audience and Google will recognize if you’re simply trying to play the system and your business will suffer for it. Make sure you aren’t shooting yourself in the foot with black hat SEO tactics.
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