8 Crippling Black Hat SEO Techniques to Avoid Like the Plague in 2018
Let’s start with a simple question: what’s the #1 factor that could make or break your website’s success?
If you said SEO, you’re absolutely right.
Not that I’m a big fan of SEO but when done right, search engines like Google send you a ton of visitors (and sales) to your sites overtime. If you’re new to blogging or SEO, you might be getting frustrated with the fact that SEO is complicated.
SEO involves in too many techniques and tactics like;
Practicing bad SEO things like black hat SEO techniques can kill your site’s reputation both in terms of search traffic and readership. So in this post, let’s discuss about some of the dangerous black hat SEO techniques some bloggers still practice and should avoid them like the plague if you want to get better at SEO.
Are you ready? Let’s dive into the details.
Table of Contents
- What is black hat SEO?
- Why should you avoid black hat SEO?
- Dangerous Black Hat SEO Techniques to Avoid In 2018 for Better SEO
- 1. Avoid low quality content
- 2. Avoid keyword stuffing
- 3. Avoid link exchanges
- 4. Avoid article spinning
- 5. Avoid doorway pages
- 6. Avoid blog comment spam
- 7. Avoid small, invisible text links
- 8. Avoid paid links as much as possible
What is black hat SEO?
Black hat SEO involves in bad search engine optimization practices such as building links from spam sites, creating duplicate content, keyword stuffing etc.
It’s a disapproved practice to increase the domain authority and search engine traffic of a site in Search Engine Results Page (SERP). These are against to the terms of search engine and it could result in site being banned from search engine.
Black hat SEO gets your website banned from Google. You may see short term results through increased traffic to your site if you implement black hat SEO techniques but Google penalizes heavily which impacts heavily on your website.
If you want to build a long-lasting search traffic, then you should avoid the 8 black hat SEO techniques that you are going to discover in this detailed post.
Why should you avoid black hat SEO?
You may be wondering, if black hat SEO helps to boost your domain authority then why to avoid this? It may impress search engine robots for short term (but NOT long term) but never impresses your readers and in the long run your site definitely gets penalized because of bad SEO practices.
Search engines target sites that follow black hat SEO and remove those sites that uses these techniques because their aim is to provide the most useful content to searchers for a given search query. If search engine algorithm catches your site then your site will penalized and will be unable to recover too.
When you are giving fabulous and useful content to your readers, then you should avoid black hat SEO techniques anyway. To protect your site from getting banned and penalized by search engines, make sure that you avoid these black hat SEO techniques if you want more search traffic and website sales.
Dangerous Black Hat SEO Techniques to Avoid In 2018 for Better SEO
1. Avoid low quality content
With Google’s algorithm updation, it is the need of the hour to focus on analyzing the content quality on your site. Previously only links and keywords are the important metrics but now, your content quality matters a lot.
If you have low quality content in your site then there are pretty chances that it hurts your search ranking. If you are able to recognize that low quality content on your site then you can see the significant boost in your search ranking.
Say you have lots of pages on your site then manually checking and analyzing the content takes plenty of time. Fortunately, there are tools to do this task. Follow this step-by-step guide to find out low quality content and removing it.
#1. Use Screaming Frog to crawl your site: Firstly, you need to get the list of all content on your site. For this, just go to Screaming Frog, click “configuration” then click on “spider”. Under basic options, make sure that every box is unchecked. Now, check “crawl all subdomains” to get every page on your site. Once you set all these options then submit your blog URL in “URL to spider” at the top. Now, hit start button.
Once the crawling is over, You will be shown tons of data that which are organized based on URL of each individual page. Now, start auditing.
#2. Know what is thin content: If you have poorly optimized meta data throughout your site and zig zag URLs then you should fix them now.
Here is the way to understand poor quality content:
- The content that doesn’t get organic traffic.
- The content that has low ranking.
- The content that has no social shares.
- The content below 1000 words are thin content.
Word count is also one potential indicator to find the low quality content.
How to identify thin content on your site?
Go to screaming frog, then go to “internal tab” and sort your pages by word count. Now export this data as a CSV file and start working on it. Pull aside those under 1500 words
It should have a very good reason to be that short. Here are some valid reasons:
- If that short content URL is a category page or 404 page then it’s not a piece of content and these are not major factors for search ranking.
- If that URL is an answer page for a specific question then merge this with main page and redirect.
- If the URL is a product page that has images and product description then go to specific amazon link and fill the page with a lot more supplementary content.
The short content is always the thin content but you can extend it with much more in-depth content
That being said, now go ahead with the task, filter thin URL’s. Let’s move onto the next step.
#3. Decide what to do with it: Now you have thin content. Analyze the metrics like social shares, incoming links, traffic. Use your analytics suite to gather this data.
Once you gathered data, here is what you can do:
- If any content gets no traffic, no links, no social shares or if it’s duplicated from any site then delete the content. Or
- Merge the content with other piece of content which are related. Or
- Improve the content.
#4. Take action: Before making the content changes you want to make, take a backup of your site. Take snapshots of your important traffic and search ranking metrics. Also identify other issues that affects your SEO like image names, metadata, URL structure, site speed etc.
Now, make changes to your content. Once done, create a comprehensive site map and upload it to Google webmaster tools. It is to ensure that updated and new content are indexed by search engine. Monitor your traffic.
2. Avoid keyword stuffing
To get better search rankings in SERP, most of the people use the method of keyword stuffing which is nothing but filling keywords in the content. Previously it was accepted when there were not much of websites but not any more. Keyword stuffing is considered as the black hat SEO technique nowadays.
Here is an example of keyword stuffing:
Isn’t it awkward? I should say it is the worst form of keyword stuffing. No one will read if you do keyword stuffing like this. It’s NOT only harmful for your search engine rankings but also kills your blog’s readership.
Then, how to naturally use your primary keywords?
It’s better NOT to focus on keyword density. Write your blog posts without focusing on your keywords. Once you are done with writing, you can use your primary and secondary keywords sparingly. You can use tools like WordPress SEO by Yoast (free plugin for WordPress users) to properly optimize your content.
Instead of using same keyword again and again, use long tail keywords and LSI keywords as they tend to send you more search traffic and rankings to your sites.
Backlinks are very important for SEO but these backlink exchange programs are not recommended if you really wish to get high domain authority and rankings in search engine results. Usually these link exchange programs are the easiest way to drive massive traffic but wait, this works only for short span of time.
It decreases your reputation in Google’s index. Without knowing the quality and content of the site you are adding never exchange links. If you link to the site that has already no importance for Google, will harm your site reputation.
No successful blogger uses link exchange programs. If you don’t believe then go and check their sites.
They concentrate solely on writing quality content and giving value to their readers. So, the best way to get relevant quality links is to write great and unique content. If the content is useful then there are plenty of chances that another blogger will link to it
Why link exchange program is harmful?
Apart from reducing your site rank, by linking your site to others site, you are telling to the readers that the link is of good quality and they find something useful and valuable.
So, when your readers click on the link through your link exchange and if that takes to irrelevant website and ads for play rummy, make money online then they feel your blog has really bad content. They lose trust on your site.
So, what is the alternative to this?
- Social networking sites: Yes, these are the biggest source of traffic for any site. Your content will spread in seconds to million of readers and gets shares if the content is highly useful and unique. So, always focus on creating quality content that is also unique.
- Create network with other bloggers: You will not only learn from them but also finds quality content.
- Increase your followers: Be active on social networking sites and bookmarking sites and increase followers.
- Invest time on your writing: Don’t waste your time in populating your site with spam-filled untrusted links. Instead of spending time on finding the sites for such links, invest time on writing great content.
4. Avoid article spinning
Article marketing has become an efficient way of building huge number of backlinks. But using automatic article spinning software is a technique of black hat SEO. if not avoided, it seriously hurts your website’s search rankings and pagerank.
Why to avoid article spinning?
- Search engine loves fresh content. The sites which posts fresh and timely content are ranked high. But when you create spin content, your site gets penalized or flagged as spam in search results.
- Article spinning software produces unreadable version: Article spinning softwares spins low quality content. You can simply re-write articles manually. And you know it takes the same time to write a fresh article too. When you write on your own by doing research, your content will be more worth than the article produced by software.
- Same idea but phrases are different: Article spinning software creates different version of unique article. The spinners replace the original words with different synonyms. It is like saying the same thing in different ways. There is no new thing to learn for your readers. Give value to your readers with useful content.
- You will lose credibility: If you use the software to write article,it will harm your online credibility.
- Google can recognize if you use the software to write: Yes, major search engines like yahoo and Google can find out low quality content. The panda update by Google can find out spun articles.
- Using software or articles spinners doesn’t make you writer: Article spinning software limits your creativity.
- Gets label as duplicate: When you write different versions of the same content, Google marks your content as duplicate. And when search engine finds your content as duplicate, it penalizes your site.
So, stop using article spinning software to generate content. Instead use your creativity to write.
5. Avoid doorway pages
These are low quality pages that are optimized for some particular keywords. These pages doesn’t serve the purpose of boosting SEO value and doesn’t provide value to your readers. Here’s a detailed guide I wrote a while back about doorway pages penalty.
Google officially announced that if you have doorway pages then your page may not get ranked anymore. Because, these pages prevents users from getting the right information and disrupts search experiences.
In that case, what you can do?
- If they don’t offer any value to your readers then remove them.
- Re-write in such away that it makes sense to read and it solves the problems of your readers.
How to recognize if your site has doorway pages or not?
The pages are optimized for a product category and it doesn’t contain any link to the item. It redirects the user to another page.
When sites optimize their doorway pages for a specific keyword, it frustrates user. Google always wants to give the best search experience to its users. It’s going to introduce a ranking adjustment that penalizes sites that uses black hat SEO techniques.
So, rather than spending time on optimizing doorway pages, write content that helps users.
6. Avoid blog comment spam
To build relationships with fellow bloggers, blog commenting is one of the best ways. If you leave comments after reading entire post, for sure it helps in increasing your relationship but if it is spam comment then it damages your brand itself.
Most importantly, stop accepting spam comments on your blog posts and pages too. Spam blog comments can kill your search rankings because you’ll be giving access to the links that are completely irrelevant to your site with stuffed keywords.
How to stop blog comment spamming?
- Use commenting systems like Disqus or Livefyre. And there also some specialized services by Facebook and Google+ too which can replace your built-in blog comment system. This can keep conversation on your site as well as eliminates spam.
- Use Akismet spam filtering. With this, you will get full control over conversation and data. It’s a built in plugin for wordpress. Just activate it and it filters 99.8% of spam. To find out the other .2%, check links in the comment if you get a legitimate comment from any user.
- Make sure to check each and every comment before you approve them on your blog. Also, don’t allow comments without gravatars. Most gravatarless comments contain spam and you should avoid accepting such spam comments.
It is not possible to see the hidden or invisible texts. Search engine loves pages with lots of content. Some people like pages with graphics, animation and some special effects but Google can’t crawl such pages.
So, some search engine spiders used to deliberately write content into the user’s website that user can’t see it but search engines could crawl.
It changes the text to the same color of background making it invisible. Visitors won’t find any text but search engines do find it. But now, search engines considers that as keyword stuffing and gets you into trouble.
CSS can hide text from users but can make it available to search engines. Here is the CSS visibility: hidden font format.
<div style=”visibility:hidden;”>cheap affordable laptops cheap affordable laptops cheap affordable laptops cheap affordable laptops cheap affordable laptops cheap affordable laptops cheap affordable laptops cheap affordable laptops cheap affordable laptops cheap affordable laptops</div>
Google finds out this kind of practices because it has advanced algorithms to detect all the stuffed keywords along with bad keywords and irrelevant keyword stuffed links.
The invisible text is accepted to some extent in the cases like where screen readers can describe an image to a blind or partially sighted web user. It’s better if you avoid such black hat SEO practices to play safe in Google search results.
Backlinks are needed if you want your site to get ranked well but many website owners buy these links and there are many websites which gives links if you pay them some reasonable amount.
Before you buy paid links, know what Google thinks about paid links?
- It knows what are paid links and it has official form too that enables bloggers to report paid links to Google.
- To determine reputation, Google and other search engines uses these links. The site ranking is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to it.
- While rating a website, Google considers the quality of the links on the site. So, it performs link based analysis.
- By buying or selling links that passes domain authority, you are violating the Google’s webmaster guidelines and it impacts on your site’s ranking in search results.
If you don’t want to get any trouble from Google then avoid paid links. If you still buy or sell any links then make sure that the links contain the rel=”nofollow” attribute. It tells search engine that you are using for advertising purpose only and not for page ranking.
Try to get quality links from authoritative sites by building relationship with top bloggers in your niche and by writing useful guest posts instead of buying paid links to manipulate page rankings in search results that Google hates.
Final thoughts about black hat SEO techniques to avoid
SEO is a time consuming strategy. If you want better results, start from the basics and don’t go for shortcuts.
If you are looking for long term results from search engines, avoid the above mentioned black hat SEO techniques at all costs. They are not going to harm your site but they also kill your site’s online reputation and readership as well.
So what are your thoughts about this detailed post? What are the other black hat SEO techniques that you think are missed in the post? Share your views in the comments below.