In the increasingly competitive world of digital marketing, everybody wants to rank higher on search listings, but not everybody can.
While most sites follow best practices for SEO, many use deceptive SEO practices known as ‘blackhat SEO.’ Sites practicing blackhat SEO prioritize ranking higher on search engines over delivering greater value to their audiences. This is detrimental to the user experience, and sites that utilize blackhat techniques risk the possibility of their pages being deindexed from search engines.
Blackhat SEO embodies all SEO practices that intend to deceive search engines or ignore their policy guidelines with the sole intention of ranking higher in search listings. Here’s a list of some of the most commonly used blackhat techniques that you should try your best to avoid:
1. Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is the practice of adding irrelevant or repetitive keywords to a web page with the intention of increasing search rankings. Many companies have gotten in trouble in the past for keyword stuffing, just ask JCPenney.
Keyword stuffing is considered spamdexing and can result in your web page being penalized by search engines. Keyword stuffing usually entails repeatedly adding a keyword into the text of a web page. The text is often difficult to read and doesn’t provide any valuable information to the reader because the sole purpose of the text is to repeatedly insert the keyword for higher search rankings.
Google has gotten better at identifying when a web page has low value content and high keyword repetition. If you want your web page to rank higher, you should add keywords naturally as they provide value to the message you’re trying to convey to your audience. This will make your text more understandable and also prevent you from getting into any trouble with search engines.
2. Auto-Generated Content
Auto-generated content is content that is automatically generated with the intention of manipulating search rankings. Auto-generated content is created by computer programs and is designed only to improve search rankings rather than improve user experience. Because the content is generated by computer rather than by human, the text is usually incoherent with repetitive keywords.
Google doesn’t reward auto-generated content in search rankings because it is low quality and doesn’t provide users with any benefit, which is what search engines are designed to do. Creating content that is unique and intended to help the user will always rank better in search results than auto-generated content.
3. Unnatural Backlinks
An unnatural backlink is any link, either on your site or directing to your site, that is created with the intention of improving search ranking rather than benefiting users. Distinguishing between natural links and unnatural links can be done by asking if the linking between pages is useful for the user. If the link won’t benefit the user and seems irrelevant to the page it’s linking to, then it’s an unnatural link.
As long as the link serves a purpose that is clearly beneficial for the user and the pages are clearly relevant to each other, the link is natural and you shouldn’t have to worry.
Cloaking is the practice of presenting different information from the same page to users and search engines. One set of information goes to the search engine which interprets the page as relevant to a search, but when a user arrives on the page they find unrelated information. This leads to bad user experience and the potential of a page becoming deindexed.
5. Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is the practice of duplicating, also known as plagiarizing, content from another webpage. Duplicate content is definitely something you should stay away from.
Plagiarism isn’t taken lightly, and search engines will deindex your page when they discover duplicate content spanning across multiple webpages. If you think you may have duplicate content on your site, it’s best to use a plagiarism detection tool like Copyscape.com, which will tell you if your content is duplicated on other pages across the web.
6. Article Spinning
As if duplicate content wasn’t enough, some blackhat practicers attempt to avoid duplicate content with the act of article spinning. Article spinning is the practice of taking an already published article and spinning it’s content just enough to pass it off as unique to a search engine. Sentences are restructured and words are replaced with synonyms from previously created content.
With article spinning, the pieces can be extremely similar and still have the potential to be interpreted as unique by search engines. Even though article spinning may be tempting as a means of easily releasing new content, it doesn’t present users with any unique information.
It may be tough to determine if you’re practicing best SEO practices. If you’re avoiding the practices discussed above, you’re probably doing just fine. It’s important that you embrace best SEO practices and do what you can to avoid blackhat techniques so that you, your audience, and search engines can all benefit from your content. If you have questions on whether your content contains blackhat techniques, it’s a good idea to look at Google’s Webmaster Guidelines for further information.