Whether unfamiliar with the Webmaster Guidelines or wanting a shortcut, several SEO practitioners are guilty of applying techniques that don’t necessarily adhere to Google’s best practices, some known as black hat schemes.
Despite Google’s sharp eye toward determining black hat practices, there are still so many practitioners who use them, aware or not. You may even be using them without intending to, which could be dangerous to your page or site when Google imposes algorithmic or manual penalty.
To avoid any penalty, be sure that you are familiar with what Google allows and not. Here are some of the SEO techniques that you should never try or if applied intentionally, need to be stopped:
Using High Density Keywords
Years ago, you would get better SEO ranking when you use a lot of keywords to the point that webmasters stuff keywords in entire paragraphs, making it unreadable for people. But Google has decided this isn’t good and started pulling down the ranking of pages that use this format of high keyword density.
What to do instead: To avoid Google seeing your article as keyword stuffed and penalising your site as a result, be sure to integrate your keywords naturally, use more descriptive ones, do not use the same keywords over again, and avoid putting them in text blocks. Learn more about techniques to improve your site’s ranking.
Paying for Backlinks
Backlinks help Google deem your domain as a reliable and authoritative source, a significant factor in search engines ranking. However, several users try to take advantage of this and pay other site owners to make a backlink of their URLs, which is definitely a violation in the Webmaster Guidelines. When the link is sold to a lot of users, there’s a higher chance for search engines to mark their pages—or worse, sites—as spam.
What to do instead: Rather than paying other site users for link placements, you can write guest posts for them then link one of your relevant posts. You can also reach out to others especially when you see a broken link on their page or site, then suggest that they use your article’s URL for replacement.
Hiding Text or Links
Google is constantly on the lookout for sites that manipulate their rankings, and one of them is hiding text or links from the readers, usually stuffed with keywords or pages with irrelevant content. This can be done by making their colors similar as the background, putting them behind an image, using zero font size, or hiding a class name to an element on your page concealed in your CSS stylesheet.
What to do instead: The readers may not be able to see them but you cannot fool search engine algorithms. Rather than hiding text, you can hide other contents through tabs such as “Read more.” Since it can be accessed through another click, Google deems it as legitimate.
Using Cloaking Methods
Spinning Your Articles
There is no way you can write about something that others haven’t explored yet, but article spinning is a different matter as you simply recycle the same ideas and rephrase them from paragraph to paragraph. Some go to the extent as producing blogs using AI-based paraphrasing tools. Aside from Google’s penalties, you might get sued by the original users whom you plagiarise your content from.
What to do instead: As long as you use your own voice in writing, offer additional information, and use original photos, your article will be good to go. It is much better than an almost-verbatim copying or stealing from others’ content.
Not Properly Using Schema Markup
Schema markup is a code you add to your site to give search engines a better understanding about your content in the form of rich snippets (e.g., prices and ratings), which have higher Click-Through Rates (CTRs) compared to the standard links. As a result, you enhance your organic traffic and increase conversions.
Google may penalise your site when you overstuff rich snippets with keywords or deliberately provide wrong details to mislead the users, such as posting fake products or reviews with positive ratings. Your rankings can get jeopardised when the search engine algorithms find out.
What to do instead: Google offers general structured data guidelines for rich snippets so you can avoid posting spammy content or data. Be sure to read their technical and quality guidelines before posting your rich snippets.
Posting or Receiving Comment Spams
When you comment in blogs just to directly introduce your URL aiming to establish free backlinks from other site owners, you may be guilty of comment spam. This technique can be effective somehow but take note that several sites may just categorise your comment as spam and even ban you from the comment section.
It can also be the other way such that others post spam comments on your site, which can automatically make it look unprofessional, jeopardising your site’s reputation.
What to do instead: Post only helpful comments such as tips or suggestions and you can then link one of your relevant posts. On the other hand, to avoid getting spam comments, establish a good comment moderation system to filter out those posts.
Overusing Anchor Text
Anchor text is the text you can click in your hyperlinks. Overusing the same anchor text throughout an article will make Google suspect that you are spamming.
What to do instead: Make sure that your anchor text for both internal and external links is brief, relevant to the page that you are linking to, unique, and not overstuffed with keywords.
Knowing what Google allows and doesn’t can greatly help with your SEO ranking. You can also ask for help from Legend DigiTech to make sure you are properly ranking your website.