In order to help sites that want to improve their positioning in search results, Google has a Webmaster Guidelines, a guide with optimization tips that help the search engine find, index and rank pages. However, in addition to instructions for a good SEO strategy, Google also points out several actions that should not be done.
These are precisely the most common practices of Black Hat and that we will see in detail.
When search engines first appeared, one of the practices that made websites well positioned was the number of times the keyword appeared on the page. Therefore, it was common to find texts with excessive repetition of the same term, which made the content of low quality and did not offer a good experience to users. With Google updates, this practice was soon considered harmful, joining the Black Hat techniques list.
It is worth mentioning that, in SEO optimizations, it is interesting that the content contains a good density of keywords. However, it is important that these terms appear naturally, without abusing the quantity and prioritizing the quality of the text.
When it comes to content, one of the most common practices is to copy the text from well positioned websites and publish as if it were your own. However, this action is easily noticed by Google. When the search engine identifies duplicate content, it tends to prioritize the ranking of the original one – the one that was published first.
Hidden content or hidden links
Another common Black Hat practice is to publish content (text or links) that the user cannot view. This technique is often used when a website indiscriminately includes words on the page in order to improve the page’s ranking. In order for the user not to notice, this part of the content is hidden. However, search engines still manage to read. Some sites hide the text by adding the same color as the page’s background or using a zero font.
Cloaking means having two versions of the same page. One to display to search engines and the other to display to users. The version that will be presented to the search engines is full of excessive optimizations, with the aim of improving the ranking. The page displayed to users is common and has friendly content, but it will not necessarily be enough to position.
Doorway is a page creation technique with the sole purpose of ranking in search results. These pages usually have short texts that do not go far beyond the keywords to which you want to rank. This technique is generally used when a website does not offer good quality.
Buying or selling links is also considered a Black Hat practice, as this action aims to manipulate the algorithm to improve page ranking. Generally, search engines identify this practice due to the existence of spikes in new links, which happen when the purchase is made. However, it is worth noting that if paid links have the attribute rel = “nofollow” they are not considered inappropriate. This is because this markup on the link means that the site does not want to transfer authority to the linked page. Therefore, it signals to the search engine that there is no intention to manipulate the results.
Practicing Link Farm means creating a series of domains in order to generate massive links to a website. The objective of those who use this technique is also to improve the ranking for the keywords that will receive links. However, it is worth mentioning that when it comes to links, there is an important difference between quantity and quality. That is, it is useless to have numerous domains pointing to your site if they are not relevant.
How do I know if my site has been punished?
If any technique disapproved by Google has been applied to your website and you have been punished, it will be easy to spot the signs. This is because, as we said, Black Hat practices can even generate immediate success with increased traffic, however, when the website is punished, the loss of access is evident. Therefore, the significant drop in organic traffic and the significant loss of positioning for several keywords are indicators of a possible punishment.
You can also check if the pages on your site are still being indexed on Google by doing a simple search – here you can find out how. If no results are found, the search engine has probably applied the punishment and is no longer considering the pages of the website. You can also use Google’s own Search Console tool.
I was punished, what now?
If your site has been punished, the first step to follow is to do an analysis to identify which actions led to this penalty. Once this is done, the second step is to permanently correct all these problems on all pages that it is experiencing. In this way, the chances of a new sanction are eliminated. Once everything is right, you can make a reconsideration request to Google, describing the corrections. The search engine will reevaluate the site in a period that can reach up to two weeks.