For the most part, only search engine optimization (SEO) specialists know about Google penalties, but that shouldn’t be the case. If your website or blog practices “black hat tricks” (tricks that falsely improve your search engine result rankings), Google’s algorithms are almost always capable of catching them at some point. If they do, and it’s deemed intentional, then you can get slapped with a Google penalty. In the worst cases, this removes your site from that search engine’s results completely.
There are many ways to avoid a penalty, but they all have to do with avoiding black hat tricks. Unfortunately, many unsuspecting bloggers hire a “black hat” SEO agency unaware that the tactics being used are illegal. Other times, a newbie developer practices these tricks themselves, not knowing that they’re “illegal.” Here are some of the biggest black hat strategies to avoid:
1. Duplicate content
You know plagiarizing from someone else isn’t kosher, but did you know that you also can’t copy from yourself? Google sees “duplicate content”, even when it’s on the same website, as spam and not high quality for queries. In fact, Moz gives a great overview of what duplicate content is and how to avoid it. If you need to relay the same information more than once, re-write it entirely.
2. A lot of ads
There purpose of SEO is to connect people with the best, most relevant and highest quality websites out there. Some ads are okay, but if your website looks like one of those cars drowning in bumper stickers, you’re in trouble. Not only might it be online advertising fraud, as recently described in Economist, it just looks bad.
3. Keyword stuffing
One of the biggest challenges of SEO is incorporating keywords and phrases natural and organically at a certain “keyword density.” However, there was a time years ago when keyword stuffing was a hack algorithms didn’t catch (now they do). If your blog reads like malarkey because it’s so overstuffed with keywords, Google will catch it fast.
4. Bad links
Linkbuilding is paramount to SEO, but if you’re connected with a bunch of poor quality (or dangerous) links, you’ll be the one paying the price. Only add links after careful research, check them on a regular basis, and make sure you’re only linked to reputable sites.
Black hat tricks aren’t always intentional, but they can come with serious consequences. Make sure you stay on the right course.