Tricking Google is, well, tricky and it’s getting trickier by the day with Google setting up new algorithm updates to defeat black hat SEO tactics.
The buzz doing the rounds is that all search engines, including of course Google, are going all out to crack down on black hat SEO (illegal) methods.
With the stringent measures that are being put in place, getting to the top of the page using any strategies that are even remotely fraudulent is more likely to backfire. You would be better served by putting your energies into using proven techniques that are sure to work, even if they do take time.
Unfortunately, going by daily news reports, it seems that people are not prepared to accept the writing on the wall. They’ve seen that it worked before and they do not want to give up yet. Many people are still determined to try and find ways to get around Google and the other search engines with black hat SEO. As it stands now, Google is aware of the different possibilities and is doing everything it can to stop them from working. However, there are loopholes that even Google cannot plug (YET!) and several unsavory tactics slip through these loopholes.
The big question then is, is it worth trying out one of these tactics in the slight hope that you may succeed? The answer is no! It is not worth the risk. Google is determined to clean things up and is putting measures in place to flush out dodgy black hat SEO tactics. Getting on Google’s blacklist can mean a whole new nightmare for you and your business.
To avoid this situation, you actually need to know which black hat SEO tactics you should stay clear of in order to avoid the risk of getting blacklisted by Google.
Black Hat SEO – Content Duplication
This is one of the most oft-used black hat SEO tactics. It is so incredibly easy too. Instead of writing a new page that is unique and relevant to their site, some individuals simply copy content directly from another site and paste it on their site. Another way of duplicating content is to write one page and then publish it multiple times at different sites. They do this in the mistaken believe that it doubles the chances of Google finding it.
Problem is it does not quite work that way. When Google realizes that you have duplicated content, and they will realize it sometime or the other, they will ban your site. Content duplication used to be quite rampant for a while with everybody getting in to the act and trying their luck but Google got wise to it and in May 2012, they launched their Panda update.
While the ruthlessness of the update sparked off a huge debate amongst website owners, it was one of those things that changed the course of SEO forever. The most affected were companies that had been capriciously using duplicate content without any restraint. So in a way, it can be said that the Panda update cleaned up the internet.
With this update, Google in effect sent out a definite message to everyone that any site owner found using duplicate content would be punished. Now, website owners started being more careful about using only original, high quality content that was informative, interesting and relevant to their niche.
Google will however smile down upon Quality Content consisting of well-written, high quality articles that are grammatically correct and full of great information.
Black Hat SEO – Cloaking
This is another black hat SEO technique that is used all too commonly. Interestingly, the biggest offenders are the larger corporates. You’d think they would know better!
So what exactly is cloaking? Well, it’s definitely ingenious, there’s no doubt about that. Unfortunately, it falls under the premise of bad practice. To understand cloaking, you need to first understand how Google works.
Google puts every website under a different category. To identify the categories, they send out bots or spiders. These spiders crawl all sites that are on the internet, collecting relevant data from them, including text and links. They use this information to categorize the various sites.
According to Google’s TOS, you have to have only one page for your customers and for Google bots. However, for some kinds of sites, this causes a conflict of interest. For some businesses, graphics play a bigger role than content when it comes to attracting clients. However, content is more important from the bots’ point of view. So how do they circumvent this? They resort to what is known as cloaking where their readers see their home page with stunning visuals and minimum text whereas the bots see the underlying text, which is invisible to readers.
While it is almost impossible for readers to be able to tell which site is using this technique on their site, the fact is numerous companies are doing this, among them a reputed high end jewellery chain.
The question that arises then is, is it worth taking the risk? What are the chances of being found out?
Plenty! Google is tightening measures on all fronts. They will find out sooner or later and when they do, the penalty will be huge. Google knows that the only way to stop all of these fraudulent practices and black hat SEO is to dispense very harsh punishments that will deter anybody else who wants to try it out. Google is not mincing their words about this. The message is clear to anyone who is planning to implement this strategy on their site – don’t! It’s not worth the risk.
No matter how prestigious your company may be, to Google this is an even playing field and the rules apply to everybody equally. So if you are thinking you have enough clout to be able to bypass this update, you’re wrong. Large, really large, well known companies have found themselves slip down from top-ranked to bottom-ranked overnight. It is impossible to recover from a bashing like that and you could be ruined.
If you are concerned and have any doubts, a good idea is to have Google Webmaster tools set up. When you have this, Google has an avenue where they can get in touch with you and give you fair warning so you have the opportunity to clean things up.
Black Hat SEO – Keyword stuffing
This is yet another commonly used black hat SEO technique. It is so simple and easy and that’s what makes it so tempting to site owners. All they have to do is have pages and pages of content that is filled with keywords.
It does not matter whether the content has any value at all to the reader or is even relevant or that the keywords are even placed correctly. All that matters is the number of the times the keyword appears in their content. The content exists not for informing or advising their readers. The only purpose for its existence is to deceive Google’s bots. Its appeal lies in its sheer simplicity.
However, while this may have worked till a few years ago, the recent Panda update and the earlier Penguin update have emphasized on giving more importance to quality content and less importance to links and keywords. Ingenious use of keywords can help lift the ranking of your site but remember, keyword stuffing or over use of keywords can send your site plummeting down the rankings so fast you won’t even get a chance to stop it and contain the damage done to your site and your rankings.
Using the Style Sheet Incorrectly
It’s interesting to see what tactics people will use in an attempt to deceive Google bots. Using the style sheet incorrectly is just one of many. Here web masters place their keyword in very small font at the top and/or bottom of the page. They are not part of any text. The words are simply placed by themselves at the bottom or top of the page. The font is so small, that it won’t even catch the eye of most human readers. However, it will not escape the attention of those Bots. To Google Bots, font size does not matter. They are capable of reading the smallest text so for the webmaster it works perfectly- it is picked up by Google Bots but does not interfere with the reader’s experience at the site.
It may seem harmless enough. After all you aren’t really doing anything overtly illegal. However, Google frowns upon this practice and will penalize you when it comes to rankings. And if you think you won’t be found out, think again. Several site owners who have resorted to this tactic and rejoiced about being one-up on Google, have found out the hard way that it’s only a matter of time but eventually, you will get caught and penalized.
It seems like the more Google clamps down, the more ingenious web owners become. It’s not surprising at all and happens everywhere. Domain buying is one of the fairly newer responses to Google’s clampdown.
You buy several domains with the idea of using them as link backs to you own website. The cost of a domain is negligible and using this tactic is a far cheaper way to get traffic to your website than having to buy links. What’s interesting is that this strategy works even if the domains that you buy and use have absolutely nothing to do with your business.
Sounds like a cool way to get that much needed traffic, doesn’t it? Not to Google. Google’s main grouse against using domain buying to get links is that it results in bad user experience as readers spend time looking for these domains and end up getting frustrated. Because it is new, you may be able to get away a little longer with this but Google is looking for ways to fix this en masse and you better believe they will.
Everybody knew that keyword rich content was the absolute best way to achieve that much wanted number one page rank but sometimes, that just did not work simply because your competition is doing the same thing too.
So what do some impatient site owners do? They stuff their front page with keywords to increases their chances of being found by Google Bots but because they know that their readers will not be happy about this they disguise it by using a background colour that is the same as the text so it all blends in. This way, their readers do not see it but the bots do.
Well, guess what, Google disapproves of this and if you read the fine print you will see that it contravenes their terms and regulations.
If you are tempted to try this out, don’t. It sounds easy to get away with this but one report is all it will take to bring your site crashing down.
Black Hat SEO – Comment Spam
We’ve all come across strange comments on blogs accompanied by even stranger links that lead to a completely unrelated website. Ever wondered what that was all about? Welcome to comment spam – an annoying consequence that all web and blog owners have to deal with when they allow comments.
How do spammers do this? They actually set up automatic mechanical systems that are continuously looking for blogs and sites to comment on. The blogs or sites do not even have to be related to their own. The only pre-condition that they are looking for is that the site allows comments. Once they find such sites, they then leave a short comment and bam… another opportunity to place a link back to their own site. You’ll notice that these comments are often very generic. They consist of just a sentence saying they enjoyed reading the blog and that’s it. They never really leave specific comments.
Sounds easy and sounds harmless too, right? Well, it may be as easy as it sounds but it sure isn’t as harmless as it sounds. For one thing, you don’t want to associate your business with anything remotely connected to any type of spamming. One your image is tarnished; it really is difficult to get it back on track. Imagine what will happen when readers clink the link and find that your site has nothing to do what they are looking for! They will blacklist your site forever and as we said, there’s nothing like a bad reputation to undo all the hard work you’ve done over the years.
And that’s not all. There’s worse to come in the form of Google. Once they discover this dirty little trick of yours, they will just file you in their black book of spam sites and you will soon find your scores sliding down the rank faster than a skier going downhill. That’s the last thing you need.
Having said that, when done the right way, commenting can be hugely beneficial to your site. It can help you attract the right traffic to your site and it shows your interest in your industry. Google appreciates this and so do your readers. So don’t stop commenting altogether. Just make sure that you do it right.
Poor Quality Backlinks
We spoke about buying links earlier, this goes along the same lines. You create several extra pages for the sole purpose of linking back to your main page. These pages do not really contain any valuable information and they could not even be related to your business. They are just random pages sometimes even blank pages with just a couple of randomly placed links.
Why do site owners bother with this strategy? Again, it is to fool Google bots. To them any site that has so many links pointing to it is a winner and it pushes the site up the ranks. You’d think only smaller sites need to resort to this but that isn’t true. Even large, well known companies do this.
Frankly this is such a waste of time, it’s surprising anyone even still considers it. And after the Penguin and Panda updates, it has become more important than ever before to have natural backlinks. Poor quality, irrelevant backlinks have in fact become the death knell for web sites. Running the risk of having links on unrelated sites is just not worth it. There are some black hat SEO tactics that Google is just aggressively against and this is one of them. Google has put measures in place and will crush your website when they find these links.
Being aware of Google’s policies and more importantly, staying abreast of their regular updates is crucial if you want to obtain top ranking. With updates being made regularly, you cannot afford to slack off. What was legit yesterday may be considered spam today. You have to be prepared to change tactics if you want to stay on Google’s right side and avoid earning an unsavoury reputation.
So let’s go back to the original question “Can you trick Google using Black Hat SEO?”
The answer is…YOU CAN’T.
well…OK…you may get away with it for a short while but the resulting reaction from Google will ensure that it was not worth the effort.