What if I told you that there are certain techniques that, when used for SEO purposes, can actually harm your website and make it less search engine friendly? Well, this is true. There are many such “black hat” practices that will get your site penalized by Google and other search engines. In this blog post, we’ll discuss 19 of which SEO techniques should be avoided!
First of all, let’s define this phrase we’ll use quite often in this post – Black Hat SEO.
Black hat SEO is the use of aggressive and unethical techniques to improve search engine rankings. Techniques that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines are typically considered black hat tactics.
The impact of engaging in such tactics can be detrimental to your site, which can lead to low quality or even de-indexation. So let’s take a look at the first of which SEO techniques should be avoided!
SEO Technique # 01 – Keyword stuffing
One of the oldest and most commonly used black hat SEO tactics which should be avoided is keyword stuffing.
Keyword stuffing occurs when a web page contains an unnaturally larger amount of keywords that are unrelated to the website’s actual content. It is used as a means to fool search engines into placing the website higher in SERP which, of course, isn’t effective and can actually lead to a decrease in website traffic.
How do you detect keyword stuffing? Here are some obvious indicators.
- The text is presented in a different color, size, or style which makes it stand out.
- An unnaturally large amount of keywords are placed on a page which doesn’t seem natural.
- Keywords are repeated excessively throughout the content which is not necessary for conveying meaning.
When you engage in keyword stuffing, Google may penalize your website. For example, you may receive a message like this in your Google Webmaster Tools account:
“We found that some of your pages contain too many keywords relative to the other content on the page. This could be a sign of keyword stuffing, and it may lower your site’s ranking in search results.”
In order to avoid this, make sure each page on your website has valuable and relevant content which is properly optimized for your target keywords.
SEO Technique # 02 – Creating a landing page for every keyword
One of the most common black hat SEO techniques is creating a separate landing page for every keyword you are targeting. This can be extremely time-consuming and you will likely end up with a very poor user experience which is the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish.
Google’s goal with search engine optimization (SEO) is to provide the best results for their users which mean that they will eventually catch on and any pages with duplicate content (especially separate pages for each keyword) will be penalized severely.
Google’s definition of duplicate content is “pages which show the same or similar website content, which is usually generated by software that copies and pastes content from one page to another.”
So, if you’re caught engaging in this practice, your website is going to be penalized which means that your rankings will drop and you won’t achieve the results you’re looking for. Your content needs to be original and relevant to your target audience if you want to rank well in search engines.
Learn more about Google’s guidelines on duplicate content here.
SEO Technique # 03 – Anchor text overuse
Anchor text is the clickable word or phrase which “links” to a particular web page which can either be internal (linking from one page on your website to another) or external (linking from your site to an outside resource which is usually indicated by using the prefix “link:”).
When overused, anchor text can be considered spammy and manipulative which is why you should avoid using it excessively. Google’s Penguin algorithm which was released in 2012 is specifically designed to penalize sites that use over-optimized anchor text which means that you should be cautious about how and where you use it.
For example, if you’re trying to rank your website for the keyword “mortgage loans,” it would be a good idea to use variations of that keyword as your anchor text (e.g. mortgage loan, home loan, etc.). However, you shouldn’t use “mortgage loans” as your anchor text every time because it will appear spammy and unnatural which will result in a decrease in website traffic.
A good rule of thumb is to use anchor text sparingly and make sure that it’s relevant to the page you’re linking to. You can also use branded terms or generic keywords which are less likely to be penalized by Google.
SEO Technique # 04 – Cloaking and/or sneaky redirects
Cloaking is the practice that consists of showing a different version of a web page to search engines which is not the same as what you are showing users. This can be done by redirecting users to a different page than the one they originally intended to visit or by showing a completely different website to search engines.
This is often done in an attempt to make a website’s pages more relevant which can result in high rankings which is why it still continues to be used today. However, Google is very good at detecting cloaking and, if caught, your website will be penalized which can lead to a decrease in traffic or even de-indexation which is the worst thing that can happen to a website.
Another one of which SEO techniques should be avoided includes using keyword-rich META tags. As mentioned earlier, stuffing your website’s META tags with keywords that are unrelated to the website’s actual content can be a sign of spam which is something that you definitely want to avoid.
For example, if you’re trying to rank for the keyword “online marketing,” it would be a good idea to include that term in your META description which will help to tell search engines what your website is about. However, you shouldn’t include the keyword “online marketing” multiple times or use it in conjunction with other unrelated keywords which will only serve to confuse search engines and cause your website to rank lower.
META tags are a valuable asset for your website which is why it’s important to use them correctly. Using keywords in META tags that are relevant to your website’s content will help search engines rank your website better.
But do keep in mind, META tags are no longer as important as they once were which is why search engines don’t rely on them to determine the topic of a website. This means that overusing them will not have the desired effect and could actually hurt your website’s ranking.
SEO Technique # 06 – Links from irrelevant websites
One of the worst things you can do to your website’s ranking is receiving links that are unrelated to its content. This occurs when a third-party site that is not related to your website links back to you which is often a sign of spam.
Receiving links from irrelevant websites can be damaging because it can be interpreted as a sign of manipulation which is something that search engines frown upon. This means your website will most likely lose its ranking which could severely hurt your business which is why you should avoid these kinds of links at all costs.
What counts as an irrelevant site? Let me explain with an example.
If you own a website that sells shoes, it would not be a good idea to receive links from websites which are about cars. This is because these two topics are completely unrelated which makes it look like your website is trying to unfairly manipulate search engines which can result in a loss of ranking and, if severe enough, even lead to de-indexation which is the worst thing that can happen to a website.
SEO Technique # 07 – Automatically generated content or spun content
Another black hat SEO technique which should be avoided is the use of automatically generated content or spun content. This is a type of content which is created by software that copies and pastes content from one page to another.
How can this happen?
Let’s say you have a website which sells shoes. You could use software which will automatically generate pages which are filled with content about shoes. However, this content will be copied from other websites which means that it’s not original and could lead to a loss of ranking.
So, if you’re caught engaging in this practice, your website will be penalized which will result in a decrease in traffic and, ultimately, loss of revenue. This is why you should avoid using automatically generated content or spun content which can hurt your website’s ranking.
Also Read: SEO for Ecommerce – Ultimate Guide
Another technique which you should avoid is using hidden text or links. This is a technique which is often used to deceive search engines into thinking that a website is more relevant than it actually is.
This is done by hiding text or links which are only visible when you view the website’s source code. However, Google is very good at detecting hidden text or links which is why you should avoid using them if you want to maintain your website’s ranking.
SEO Technique # 09 – Doorway pages
Another black hat SEO technique which you should avoid is the use of doorway pages. This is a type of page which is designed to rank high in search engine results pages (SERPs) for a specific keyword or phrase.
For example, let’s say your website is about shoes which are manufactured in Italy. If you have a large budget, you could create an entirely separate website which would be specifically designed to rank high for the keyword “Italian shoes.”
This would be considered a doorway page which is created with the sole purpose of ranking high for a specific keyword. However, because this type of page is often created with the intention of deception, it’s considered to be spammy and can lead to a loss of ranking.
So, if you’re looking to improve your website’s ranking, it’s best to avoid using doorway pages as these pages are often nothing more than bait which will redirect users to another page which is not related to the keyword or phrase that they were originally searching for.
SEO Technique # 010 – Link Farming
Another SEO technique which should be avoided is link farming. This is a technique which is used to increase a website’s ranking by artificially increasing the number of links which point to it.
This is done by adding links which are not related to the website’s content from a variety of sources which can be a sign of spam.
For example, let’s say your website which sells shoes has a link which is pointing to the main page of the official Apple website. This would be considered an unnatural link which is often used in link farming.
Why should you avoid it?
Because Google takes into account the number of unnatural links which are pointing to a website which can lead to de-indexation which is the worst thing that could happen to your website.
Another black hat SEO technique which you should avoid is lazy link acquisition techniques. This is a technique which is often used to get links from high-ranking websites which can improve your website’s ranking.
This is done by creating various types of links which are commonly referred to as footprints or spamdexing. However, these links are often low-quality which can hurt your website’s ranking.
SEO Technique # 012 – Click baits
One of the most common black hat SEO techniques which you should avoid is using clickbait. This is a technique which is used to lure users to click on a link which is usually set against an eye-catching background which can be very harmful to your website’s reputation.
This is because search engines frown upon websites which use click baits which can result in a decrease in traffic and loss of earnings. Therefore, you should avoid using this technique if you want to maintain your website’s ranking.
SEO Technique # 013 – Negative SEO
Another black hat SEO technique which you should avoid is negative SEO. This is a technique which is used to harm the ranking of another website by attacking it.
This is done by targeting a website which already has a high ranking and which you want to take down with spammy links. While the idea that if your competitor goes down, you’ll rank higher may seem good but if Google finds out about this, it could harm you heavily.
SEO Technique # 014 – Buying Old Domain Names or keyword specific domain names
One of the most common black hat SEO techniques which you should avoid is buying old domain names or keyword-specific domain names. This is a technique that is used to improve a website’s ranking by using an expired domain name that already has a high ranking.
This is done by registering the expired domain which can be expensive. However, this technique usually only brings short-term results which you should avoid if you want to maintain your website’s ranking.
SEO Technique # 015 – Duplicate Content
Another black hat SEO technique which you should avoid is duplicate content. This is a technique which is used to improve a website’s ranking by copying content which is already available online.
This is done by publishing the copied content on your website which can be harmful to your website’s ranking. As mentioned earlier, search engines are very good at detecting duplicate content which is why you should avoid using this.
SEO Technique # 016 – Excessive Link Building & Link Building Via Directory Websites
One of the most common black hat SEO techniques which you should avoid is excessive link building or linking via directory websites. This is a technique which is used to improve a website’s ranking by artificially increasing the number of links that point to it.
This is done by including your website in various directories however, most of these links are low-quality. Opt for building fewer links than links that would harm you in the long run.
SEO Technique # 017 – Avoid Link Exchanges
Another black hat SEO technique that you should avoid is avoiding link exchanges. This is a technique that is used to improve a website’s ranking by exchanging links with other websites which have a high ranking.
This is done by contacting other website owners and asking them to exchange links with you which can be harmful to your website’s ranking. As mentioned earlier, search engines are very good at detecting link exchanges which is why you should avoid using this technique.
SEO Technique # 018 – Building Micro Sites
One of the most common black hat SEO techniques which you should avoid is building microsites. This is a technique that is used to improve a website’s ranking by creating a website which has similar content to that of your main site.
This is done in the hope of increasing the number of links that point to your website which can be harmful in the long run. As mentioned earlier, search engines are very good at detecting microsites which is why you need to avoid this.
Also Read: Top SEO Trends & Best Practices For 2022
SEO Technique # 019 – Using Fake Reviews on Google Profile & Website
One of the most common black hat SEO techniques which you should avoid is using fake reviews on Google Profile & website. This is a technique that is used to improve a website’s ranking by creating fake reviews which praise your website.
This is done by creating fake profiles which are used to write fake reviews which can be harmful to your website’s ranking. As mentioned earlier, search engines are very good at detecting fake reviews which is why you should avoid this.
There you go! This is your answer to which SEO techniques should be avoided. By indulging in these techniques, you’re taking a big risk. We recommend you avoid this and work on sustainable white hat SEO practices. Even if you’ve hired an SEO agency, ensure they’re not doing any such activities to artificially bloat the results they’re getting for you. Remember, it’s the turtle that won the race!
We hope this has helped you in understanding which SEO techniques should be avoided. If you have any questions or need help with your website, feel free to contact us!