Top Tips to spot and avoid Black Hat SEO

SEO (search engine optimisation) is the way to boost your online presence by getting better search engine rankings – but there are some lazy and unscrupulous SEO tactics to avoid.

Your company requires a good search engine ranking. If you are not on google, you are not on the Internet.

I want to outline the methods you or your SEO company need to avoid in order to comply with Googles new algorithm.

We are discussing Black Hat SEO – they are legitimate, but unethical methods of boosting Google rankings.

Black hat SEO companies break the code of conduct and fair-play rules of the search engines, famously JCPenney used such methods of SEO and then justly plummeted down the rankings when caught.

Here are some of the ways SEO companies deceive the rankings:

> Keyword stuffing

Cramming in keywords does not make for readable content.

It makes it clear you care about SEO but not about the text you deliver to your users.

Google will penalise you for creating content that is not user friendly.

> Content farming

This is when SEO companies generate a lot of new content which is useless to the user – these are know as content farms.

Content farms are crammed full of articles that are poorly written and shallow – void of useful information and delivering a poor user experience.

These articles will be written by the black hat SEO company – but they are lacking the thorough understanding of the field that you have.

They’re generating content to fool Google into boosting your rankings, but it is content without relevance.

> Link spamming or link farming

This involves creating a web page with lots of links to your site.

The more links to your site the better, and that value increases if the information and keywords are relevant from one page to the other.

> Cloaking or door way pages

This involves setting up two versions of the same page or a fake page.

One page will be setup that redirects the search engine spiders to an optimised and “key-worded” version, and the other a normal content version that anyone would view.

> Invisible, hidden or fake text

Not the most sophisticated of techniques it involves posting key words in white on a white background or text only visible to search engine spiders.

> Google Insulation

Protect reputation or damage limitation on bad reviews by creating new content to push the bad comments down the rankings.

> Negative SEO – Google/search engine bowling

Negative SEO is the practice of damaging your rivals ranking.

Create a link farm, but instead of linking it to your own site link to a rivals site.

Then report them to google in an effort to get them punished – banned or at least drop in the rankings

> Negative SEO – Copyright Infringement

Copyright law can be used for negative SEO in two ways.

Firstly you can accuse the opposition of copying your content, forcing them to take off the offending article for 10 days. If the accusation is unproven they can take court action against the accuser.

Secondly you can copy other peoples work but paraphrasing the original document.

> Cyber warfare – Denial of Service

This is where SEO tactics go from against policy to against the law.

It involves using illegal software (viruses) which hijack computers and request information from your rivals Web server, causing it to crash.

This is called a denial of service attack.

> Cyber warfare – Click fraud

Use software to repeatedly click on a pay-per-click advert for a rival.

This exceeds the click limit your rival has set and effectively removes the rivals ad.

Remember ask any company you outsource your SEO to what strategy they will use to boost your google ranking.

Ensure that you are not putting your ranking at risk because of the actions of your SEO company.

Apart from jeopardising long-term success for short term rankings, do you want your website to produce low value content and fool people into visiting?

What would that do for your brand and reputation?

Cynics would say Google are hitting SEO companies to maintain the value of the AdWords they sell.

But poor content found and given to you by Google diminishes the authority and respectability of the Google brand.

After all, SEO is about giving people what they want and need – quality and relevance!

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