Stock photo of a sign that reads "Wrong Way".

When it comes to implementing an effective SEO strategy for your business website, there is a set of best practices called “white hat SEO” and then there is a set of practices to avoid called “black hat SEO”. The difference between white hat SEO and black hat SEO is well documented, however, that’s never stopped certain website owners from cutting corners and trying to game the system. Black hat SEO is geared towards gaining favor from the search engines rather than delivering a quality experience to readers.

Search engines like Google and Bing are way too advanced these days to make the pursuit of black hat SEO techniques worth the trouble. Most brands that use black hat SEO techniques are affiliate marketers that are out to make a quick buck rather than build a meaningful business over the long term. Here are some of the most common black hat SEO techniques and why you should avoid them.


Spamming Comment Sections With Links

Any business owner with a website that allows readers to leave comments knows what this headache looks like. A bot or a spammer will often leave a meaningless comment that adds nothing to the conversation. Instead, it comes with a link to their website for Viagara, Cialis or a gambling website. Most comment systems like LiveFyre, Disqus or Facebook automatically assigns a nofollow attribute to all outgoing links. This means that blog spamming is a complete waste of time and will pass no link juice to your website.

There are some cases where including a link with your blog comments is ok. Let’s say you’re commenting on an article you enjoyed and the article’s content also relates to the content offered on your website. In this case, blog commenting should be seen as an effort to drive relevant traffic to your website and not to boost your search engine rankings.

As a business owner, you should make a point to make sure your website’s comment settings require manual approval of all blog comments. It makes the comments much easier to manage instead of deleting spammy comments after they’ve been posted. If your website is riddled with spammy comments from bots, your website visitors will lose trust in your website because it looks unattended.


Paying For Links and Other Link Schemes

One might think the search engines aren’t able to distinguish between paid links and natural links but they can. Link building campaigns should always be conducted manually and organically. Paid links are the most attractive to “sin industries” like adult and gaming websites because those links aren’t welcome in too many places on the web. Link exchanges are also often frowned upon although they’re more acceptable if two websites offer similar content.

Another reason paid links should be avoided is because you’re essentially renting space on a website. As soon as the agreement expires, you lose that link. When conducting a link building campaign, the best place to start is with local citation listings and social media channels. Those are easy wins. As your content marketing efforts expand, then start with reaching out to major influencers for links via email. Other link schemes that aren’t practiced as often but should be avoided include link farms, link wheels and guest posting on websites unrelated to your niche.


Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is a black hat SEO technique that isn’t used as often as once before. The idea behind keyword stuffing is basically using the same keyword or phrase repetitively throughout an article to manipulate the search engines. Keyword stuffing creates a poor reader experience. The best solution to rank for certain keywords is to make sure the keywords you’re targeting are in your article title, meta description and two or three times throughout the article body. By publishing a higher quantity of articles using targeted keywords but in a natural manner, you’ll slowly start to improve your organic rankings for that keyword. Create content that your readers will enjoy; keyword stuffing is useless.


Publishing Duplicate Content

Publishing duplicate content is essentially copying and pasting content from other websites onto your own. An article that is unique but strikingly similar to another article can also be considered duplicate content by the search engines. Large news websites will often publish duplicate content that was originally published by the associated press. However, they often cite the original source and the search engines also know to expect this sort of content from news websites. Your website, however, will not have that privilege.

It’s perfectly fine to publish an article on a topic that has been written about many times before. Just make sure the article is in your own words while also citing the original sources. Also make sure the article exceeds 500 words and if possible, includes infographics or Youtube videos to supplement the article. These measures will create distinction from other articles that have been published on the same subject.

There are also rarer cases in which duplicate content can be mistakenly published on your website on multiple pages. Tools like Site Liner are free to use and can easily crawl your website and find duplicate content.


Article Spinning

Article spinning is not a new practice by any means and is the epitome of cutting corners when it comes to SEO and content marketing. There are various article spinning programs like Spin Bot and Spin Rewriter that basically takes an article and recommends synonyms to create a similar article. A spammer then takes different variations of the same article and publishes it to a website like Blogger or Tumblr with a link to their website. Article spinning also fits into the duplicate content category.

The content you post to third-party blogging websites should be unique and properly cites it’s sources as well. There is a strong correlation between the quantity of articles your website has published and the number of organic visitors it receives every month. Make a point to publish at least one new unique article each week related to the products or services your business offers. Promote the article to social media and move on to the next article. Article spinning requires too much effort, has little return, and will likely get your website hit with a penalty very quickly.


Other black hat SEO techniques that aren’t as commonly used include

Contact John Mann SEO Consulting

Are you a business owner in Nashville, Tennessee that needs help building a digital presence that will increase your brand’s online visibility? John Mann SEO Consulting can help. We are a Nashville SEO company and offer services such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, email marketing consulting and content marketing. To learn more about our services or to schedule your free consultation, give us a call at 615-491-9819 or complete our inquiry contact form.