Semalt: Reasons Why You May Be Experiencing Traffic Loss
While there are several reasons why a website or webpage may lose traffic, some of the most common causes are associated with Black hat SEO techniques. In this article, we will be showing you some black hat techniques that can hurt your SEO, so you know how to avoid them.
Google continually updates its search algorithm and constantly keeps the majority of its users satisfied by providing the most useful results. No wonder they are the most popular search engine out there. To this end, Google also has its Webmasters Guidelines, so everyone from SEO professionals to web developers is properly guided on the rules governing how Google operates. Of course, there are people who would like to bend or break the rules to win in the game; such actions are what we refer to as black hat SEO.
Black Hat SEO
We're fairly certain that the name Black Hat was gotten from an old movie where the bad cowboys wore black hats. Today, black hat SEO practitioners aren't necessarily cowboys or wear black hats. Instead, they are practitioners who know the rules of search engine optimization, and they use their knowledge to discover shortcuts that aren't supported by Google.
This is a juxtaposition to white hat professionals like Semalt, who follow Google's webmasters' guidelines closely, engage in deep keyword research and provide high-value content to helps its clients win in the SERPs.
Using shortcuts in SEO will most likely land you in danger. Google has gotten very good at identifying and penalizing these black hat techniques. However, many still fall victim to the illusion of success with black hat SEO techniques.
Here are several common black hat practices to avoid as they can make you a victim of manual or algorithmic penalties. While to err is human, Google's bots aren't, so it's best you familiarize yourself with these black hat SEO and make sure your website is in the clear.
Common Black Hat SEO Techniques
Link building is one of the fundamental ranking factors of Google. It isn't a surprise that web practitioners will want an easy way of getting inbound links. Having high-quality links to your site is a big win as it directs traffic to your domain and indicates to Google's algorithm that you are a trustworthy website.
Good backlinks also help Google's bots map your website, giving it a better idea of what your website is about, giving you a better chance to rank in the right SERPs.
With all these benefits, it's no surprise that websites are willing to buy links which is against Google's Webmaster Guidelines. Google also claims that buying links doesn't work. If a website is caught buying links, it could get an automatic or manual penalty which can be targeted at a specific webpage or, in some cases, the entire domain.
Google has a way of tracking links that are likely to have been bought and links that are earned. Buying links is a bad idea also because of the nature of the link itself. Many of these websites that sell links usually sell low-quality links. It is also easier than you think for Google to realize the unnatural patterns in the linking activities of such sites.
Sometimes, websites try to hide links by making them the same color as the background or by hiding the link in the website, but Google will notice and penalize you for trying to outsmart the system. If you also include irrelevant links on your site, you will be giving Google fewer reasons to direct traffic to the targeted audience as more irrelevant links dilute your relevance.
Using hidden links deceptively is a violation of Google's guidelines.
So you should avoid having:
- Hidden texts behind an image.
- Keeping text off-screen using CSS.
- Using font size of 0.
- Making one little character like a punctuation mark, a link.
Some "bad" SEO practitioners use Google's Penalties to their advantage by having a website that you wouldn't want to associate with link your content as a strategy to drag down your page ranking. Instead of trying to be better, they use malicious backlinks to beat down the competition.
To punish the perpetrators of such an unprofessional act, Google created a form that helps you disavow links. This method helps websites disentangle from any undesirable domain. But to do this, you must conduct regular link audits to see which websites are linking your content, so you can disavow any links you do not wish to have.
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. When search engines were first introduced, all a website needed to rank for was to have as many keywords as possible. Then, you could find content with a keyword phrase repeated over a hundred times, but the content wouldn't make any sense.
Google wishes to offer the best quality service to its users by looking for content that is rich in semantically linked keywords. What this means is Google doesn't look for only the number of times a keyword was used but also how it relates to other words in the content.
That way, Google's algorithm stands a better chance at providing high-quality content rather than content which have been stuffed with certain keyword phrases.
Hidden links and hidden contents are similar. Hidden contents are contents that are made the same color as the background. This is a tactical black hat scheme to include as many keywords, semantically linked words, and long-tail keywords as possible on a page without making it look unnatural to a visitor.
Google's algorithm can easily tell the difference between keywords within the body of a paragraph and keywords which are hidden in the background. Sometimes, hidden content can find its way on your site even when you aren't responsible for putting them there consciously. Here are some cases where you can publish hidden contents unintentionally:
- When you publish a guest post that contains hidden content.
- If you have an insufficiently rigorous commenting system that fails to pick up hidden contents.
- If your website gets hacked and the hacker puts in hidden contents. This is known as parasite hosting.
- When an authorized user copies and pastes a text with CSS styling from a different source that carries hidden contents.
While not all forms of hidden content are forbidden, it is best you only use them when necessary and following the guidelines set out by Google.
As a website that publishes new content regularly, we understand the difficulties you might face when keeping pace with web content. Similar to duplicated or plagiarized content, article spinning is an easy way to "create" content. Article spinning is the process of rewriting copied content by substituting synonyms, changing the sentence structure, or rewriting the text completely while spreading the same information as your source material.
Article spinning can be done with specialized tools or manually; however, Google will still penalize websites that have spun contents.
This is a form of cloaking that is designed to rank for a particular keyword, but when clicked, it redirects visitors to a different page. These pages are also known as:
- Portal pages
- Gateway pages
- Bridge pages
- Entry page
- Jump pages
Having a vulnerable or unsecured website isn't typically an offense, and it wouldn't get you penalized. What it does is that it makes it an easy target for hackers, which can cost you valuable rankings. If your website gets hacked and injected with malicious code and Google finds out, they have the authority to block your website for people using their search engine.
Clearly, this will cause users to lose trust in your brand, and it will cause your website to drop in ranking just like what a Panda or Penguin penalty does to sites. While you may be lucky to receive a message notifying you that your site has been hacked, you could still face a penalty if Google notices malicious codes on your site.
The bottom line is yes, these black hat techniques can get you positive results, but these results are short-lived and unethical because they make the internet dangerous. We believe you should know these black hat SEO paths not so you can use them, but so you can avoid them and teach you the right way of doing things. That way, you can employ SEO best practices, increase your ranking, build trust in your brand and have your website survive the internet for a very long time.
If you accidentally get penalized, kindly contact our customer care on how you can rectify the issue. If you've also been using any of these black hat techniques, you now know better, and you have a chance to change your practice before it costs you more than it already has.