Black Hat SEO used to be a great way to get your website showing at the top of Google’s rankings. However, the search giant’s algorithm has gotten a lot smarter over the past decade. Sneaky tactics that used to work in 2010 aren’t going to cut it in 2020.
Unfortunately, many so-called optimization experts haven’t updated their methods. If an agency, marketing company, or one of Fiverr’s many “SEO professionals” promises you quick and unbelievable results, make a run for it! If you don’t, they’ll be smiling all the way to the bank while your website tanks.
There are hundreds of black hat SEO techniques, but here are a few easily recognizable ones that can do a lot of damage to your website.
1. Bought Backlinks
Backlinks lend your website domain authority. However, getting links through sponsored and paid guest posts won’t do you much good. Google penalizes these referrals, which means you’ve spent money on something that won’t give you any real ROI.
Instead, create quality content that provides value to your visitors. Eventually, you’ll start receiving organic inbound links. If you are a guest blogger, write articles for reputable websites that welcome outside writers rather than demanding payment.
2. Duplicating Articles
Almost everyone knows Google loves sites that create consistent, high-quality content. Unfortunately, many black hat SEO creators decide to lose the “quality” part of the equation. Instead, they churn out regular articles – even if that means duplicating existing posts.
The downside here is that everyone with that content gets penalized. Since duplication means replicated answers, Google doesn’t know:
- Which versions to include or exclude.
- Where to assign link metrics.
- Which one to rank in the search results.
In short, while duplicating articles will help you churn out content consistently, it won’t do your search ranking any favors.
3. Content Cloaking
Content cloaking is shady, annoying, and a surefire way to get search engines to blacklist your website. The trick uses an optimized title and URL that tells users your content is about something relevant to their search. However, the article itself is on an entirely different topic.
For example, let’s say your SEO title and URL claim the article is about learning how to save up for retirement. However, the content focuses on stock marketing investing in a completely unrelated way. That’s cloaking.
Essentially, you’re using bait-and-switch tactics. It’s a significant violation that’ll earn you heavy penalties. If you’ve ever encountered a Google “Red Screen of Death” preventing your access to a site, know that this shady tactic might earn you one for being deceptive.
4. Keyword Stuffing
According to internet marketing company Click Intelligence, you need to target keywords and create optimized content relevant to your audience. It isn’t just an accurate statement; SEO is essential to marketing your business.
Unfortunately, some content writers get a little carried away. Have you ever noticed an article that seems to repeat the same two or three words every paragraph or two? That’s keyword stuffing, and it can make even the best posts sound like spam.
Although no one knows what Google’s preferred density is, experts generally recommend aiming for 1% – 2% keyword saturation in your posts, at most.
Obey the Laws of Google
Google is the most popular search engine in the world, with access to billions of websites. If you have any hope of competing for one of the limited top spots in the ranks, you’re going to have to follow the Laws of Google.
Start by avoiding black hat SEO techniques:
- Create content that other sites want to reference for organic backlinks.
- Be consistent, but don’t duplicate the work of others.
- Avoid keyword stuffing and focus on search intent rather than over-optimization.
- Most importantly, don’t be shady and lie about your content.