What Are Unethical SEO Practices?

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5th October 2017
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Search engine optimization (SEO) is the act of developing a website page so that it has the best chance of ranking well in the search engines. If you optimise your website in line with SEO best practices, you will be rewarded by search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. This is called white hat SEO. Unethical SEO practices fall into two categories: grey hat SEO and black hat SEO. Let’s take a look at these ill-advised ranking techniques, and why you shouldn’t be trying them…

Grey Hat SEO

According to this article published on Vertical Rail, grey hat SEO can be defined as search engine optimization techniques that are not necessarily against Google’s recommendations, but that would be considered socially unethical. Here are a few common grey hat SEO techniques:

Content Spinners
Some companies prefer not to hire content writers, and instead choose to use computer programs (spinners) that automatically generate content around certain provided keywords and phrases. Algorithms do not understand the intricacies of human communication, and thus artificial content developed by content spinners rarely makes sense to the reader. In the age of meaningful interactions, search engines will negatively rank websites with artificial content.

Buying Links
Search engines look favourably on websites that have inbound and outbound links. These links need to come from real websites and should not have been paid for, however companies like Google and Yahoo can’t always deduce how links are established – opening the door for grey hat SEO. Essentially, buying a link means an organisation offers to pay a website owner to feature a link to the organisation on the website owner’s site. If you have R1000, and you offer ten websites R100 each to link to your site, you stand to gain ten inbound links – thus improving ranking.

Buying Followers
Much like buying links, buying followers involves the process of paying for progress. Sketchy online service providers are willing to take money in exchange for providing new followers for an organisation’s social media profiles. Want to get to 1000 likes on Facebook? It’ll cost you! A bigger social media following means greater exposure for your website should you partake in social media marketing, which could lead to more leads – but do you really want to achieve this via unethical means?

Black Hat SEO

When it comes to serious search engine optimization malpractice, black hat SEO techniques take the proverbial cake. These can be described as known ranking influencing techniques that go directly against a search engine’s terms of service – or against the law. Below are a few common black hat SEO techniques used today:

Negative SEO
Negative SEO is the flip side of the search engine optimization coin. Instead of trying to improve their own website ranking, companies will purposively try to negatively affect the ranking of their competitors. This is done by performing acts that get picked up by the search engines, causing a loss of ranking. An example of negative SEO would be to spam comment on a competitor’s blog articles with links to untrusted or ‘spammy’ websites. The more spam links on their site, the more drastic the decrease in rank could be.

Keyword Stuffing
This is an unethical SEO practice that has been around almost as long as Google has! Keyword stuffing involved placing an unnatural number of keywords into one section of content. For example:

Buy games, new games, first person shooter games, games for sale, MOBA games, card games, games for PC, Xbox games, PlayStation games, fun games, play games online, pool games.

The word games has been ‘stuffed’ into the section of copy, and this will seriously throw a spanner in the website’s ranking works. Another way unethical SEO practitioners stuff keywords is by cloaking them on a web page. This entails making the keyword-stuffed text the same colour as the page’s background.

Bait and Switch
Not only is this black hat SEO practice annoying to search engines, but it’s irritating to internet users too! Bait and switch is the process whereby a website promotes a page with misleading SEO. For example:

Pete’s Pancakes wants to sell more pancake batter, but people aren’t clicking on his pancake-themed website. Pete then decides to get more clicks by advertising FREE BITCOIN MINING SOFTWARE, which actually clicks through to his pancake website. People who click on the link are expecting Bitcoin related content, but instead are prompted to buy Pete’s Pancake Batter. This would seriously place his website’s integrity in danger with the search engines.

To find out more about best SEO practices, and how to optimise your website with white hat SEO practices, contact Easy2Access right here!

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