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Black Hat SEO: 10 Techniques That Will Hurt Your Google Ranking

Black hat SEO describes a method to improve search engine rankings the quick and easy way.Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?The problem with black hat SEO is that while these SEO techniques are meant to game the system, Google's algorithm has gotten smarter.White hat SEO, on the other hand, use best practices that fall within Google's guidelines.If you use black hat SEO techniques, it's not a matter of if you get caught, but a matter of when.The penalties from Google can be severe and lead to your site being removed from the search engine. With 40,000 searches happening every second on Google, you can do a lot of damage to your business.The best way to keep your site safe is to know what the top black hat SEO methods are and avoid them. Read on to learn what they are.

1. Keyword Stuffing

Early on in SEO, webmasters would be able to take a keyword, put it into a site as much as they could, and get results.Have you ever seen a site that had weird phrases like "mortgage broker Ottawa" even though they're not grammatically correct?To make it worse, these phrases would be all over the site.This trick worked for a while.Google has become a lot more sophisticated over the years.Among today's white hat techniques, site owners need to consider user intent and natural writing.It's not natural to write "mortgage broker Ottawa," let alone repeat the phrase a dozen times on one page.You should still have a focus keyword, but only use it a few times, and use other phrases that are similar to your keyword.

2. Private Blog Networks

Getting other sites to link to your content is necessary if you want to rank highly in Google.It takes work to get that to happen, and what some creative folks did was create their own network of blogs to link to their primary sites.That's what a Private Blog Network is.If you want to build legitimate backlinks to your site, you'll need to focus on two things. The first is creating good content that's worth linking to.The second is writing of other high-quality blogs that will allow you to link back to your site.

3. Duplicate Content

One practice that many writers would use is to publish a blog post and then publish that same blog post on Medium and LinkedIn for wide exposure.This can actually harm your SEO if you don't do it right.Google wants to give its users a great experience and giving users content that is an exact match doesn't help users. Google started to crack down on duplicate content.The same goes for duplicate content on your website.You'll want to make sure that no matter where you post your content, it's not a match and you keep your audience in mind.

4. Comment Spam

The great thing about blogs and forums is that they can create conversation and community.At the same time, they can be abused by spammers using black hat SEO to advertise their sites.There's nothing wrong with commenting on posts and forums, but they have to add value and be relevant.Leaving posts that just promote your content can come across as spammy and get you kicked out of groups and forums.If you leave your site open for comments, you'll need to put some measures in place to protect your site from spammers, too.

5. Clickbait

Clickbait is the practice of using well-written headlines that you click on and go to a completely unrelated website.Headlines are important in your content, but they need to be related to the article. If they're not, users can be frustrated, and you can be penalized by Google.

6. Hidden Keyword Text

This is similar to keyword stuffing, but a lot more sneaky.Site owners would take a long list of keywords and put them in the footer or elsewhere on the site. They can easily be hidden by making the text the same color as the background.Again, this trick did work for a while, but normally what happens is that the webpage has nothing to do with the keyword that ranks in search engines.Once again, you're creating a poor user experience. Google has caught on and has made it clear that it's a violation of their guidelines.

7. Domain Squatting

If you've ever made a typo while typing in a URL into the URL bar, you have probably experienced this issue.You may have noticed that your typo leads to a sketchy site with multiple popup windows or worse.Squatters buy misspellings of websites and put up a similar site to sell their own products or services. They may put up a site to install malware or steal passwords from site visitors.Search engines will take any of these sites out of their rankings.

8. Mirror Sites

This is similar to duplicate content, but what black hat practitioners do is create exact replicas of one website across several domains.These sites exist to build backlinks or send traffic to the main website.This is seen as duplicate content by Google's algorithm and it will get your site penalized in search results.

9. Cloaking

Cloaking hides the actual content of the website from search engines.You might be looking up the best poutine places in Ottawa, find what looks like the perfect match in Google.You click on that link only to find that it's actually a site for Viagra.

10. Hacking

Hacking has become a major problem for site owners. It's also a way to get delisted from Google and damage your company's reputation.Hacked pages typically replace the content on a site with content and links to shady websites and products.

Avoid Black Hat SEO

The best way to avoid black hat SEO techniques is to understand what the most common methods are. They may bring fast and easy results, but they can come at a huge cost.You can then implement white hat SEO techniques that fall well within Google's guidelines and keeps your site safe from penalties.If you have any questions about black hat SEO and how you can avoid costly penalties, contact us today for a free SEO report.

Headshot of Nik Paprocki, head of growth at WebSuitable.
Nik Paprocki
Head Of Growth
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