SEO Manipulation and Penalties

Introduction

Search engines work tirelessly to discover content, index it, and deliver it when it is most relevant. The act of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is done to help the search engine do its task as efficiently and effectively as possible, and to make the search engine understand what your site is all about and when your site is relevant for a search.

Search engine optimization is an important and a fun task. But let’s be clear about one thing: it’s not about gaming any system.

When working on search engine optimization, you should never sacrifice your integrity by engaging in practices that are shady or dishonest and that try to mislead search engines.

Dishonest tactics are referred to as “Black Hat” SEO practices. To make sure that you avoid black hat tactics that could mislead search engines here are some Black Hat practices you should know about.

Keyword Stuffing or Keyword Stacking

This refers to the practice of overusing keywords in your content or in the meta tags, invisible text, image alt text, title tags, or comment tags for the purpose of including as many keywords as possible. The overuse of keywords usually reads like gibberish to a human.

Even if you try to hide them in invisible text, the search engine won’t like it when it sees too many keywords and will penalize you for it. Keyword Stuffing: Bad Example: Running Shoes, running shoes shoe shoes.Good Example: The running shoes we offer come in all sizes and in a range of widths for maximum comfort.

Avoid Hidden Text

Another way you can mislead the search engine is by making it read text that the user actually does not see. Common ways to hide text is either by making it so small, like a 1pt font, that it would be hard for a human to read or hiding the text in a background by making the text the same color as the background of your page. The search engine wants to make sure that it uses the text the user sees as the basis for classifying a page.

Avoid Duplicate Content

 Another sneaky way to game search engines is to create several websites with similar content or numerous pages with similar content, but using different keywords.

Avoid Linking to Poor Quality Sites

Always make sure that you know what site you are linking to. If you happen to link to a poor quality site that is considered “spammy” or is engaging in unethical practices, this is a quick way to lose credibility and get penalized.

Conclusion

In summary, malicious practices will not go unpunished. Search engines, and Google, in particular, are smart and their machines quickly learn how people are trying to mislead them.

If they find culprits, they do punish them, resulting in lower rankings for the website involved. Make sure you stay above this. For more information on black hat tactics or common mistakes to avoid, visit Moz’s site and read the guide, Black Hat Tactics.

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