With SEO so important to Google rankings, many sites are doing anything they can to boost their traffic and their rankings. However, unethical SEO practice, or black hat techniques, can actually hurt your online reputation and make your rankings fall quickly and even get your site penalized. It’s best to stay away from any kind of unethical SEO practice and keep a solid, clean reputation.
What Are Some Unethical SEO Practices to Stay Away From?
*Spun Content – This is taking a previously published article and rewording/rewriting it to say that it is original. However, it’s different than using an article as a source of information and writing your own from it; that’s okay with proper referencing and citing.
Article spinning, on the other hand, takes a well-written, informative article and substitutes words and rearranges sentences, often making the new article garbled and unreadable. If this shows up on your website, it looks a bunch of mish-mash and, though it may contain SEO keywords, will lower your ranking, as it’s basically garbage. Stay away from this!
*Duplicate Content – This one is pretty self-explanatory; it’s taking well-written material that someone else wrote, copying it, and calling it your own. Sure it has those valuable keywords, but guess what – it’s plagiarism. This can severely lower your rankings and your online reputation.
*Poor Quality Content/Over-Optimization (Nonsense Words) – Believe it or not, some website owners will fill their content with nonsense just to get their keywords in. This may have worked long ago and given them a somewhat high ranking because of the use of keywords, but not anymore. Now it will simply lower your ranking because no one wants to read a bunch of nonsense with keywords randomly stuck in. Google ranking techniques, formulas, and algorithms have become more advanced to detect this, and instead of raising your rankings, this one will put any site that does this at the bottom of the barrel.
*Invisible Text – This may be the strangest, most unethical one of all. When a site uses nonsense, keyword-stuffed material placed on their site in invisible text (using a color that blends with the rest of the site), it’s unethical. This one is a red flag to lowering ranking and penalization.
The above practices all fall under the Black Hat category, but there are other things that will hurt your reputation as well. These are some things that simply make you look bad.
*Bashing other sites – Just like your mom taught you not to talk about other people, don’t bash other sites. It just makes you look bad. It may not hurt your Google ranking per se, but it can hurt your online reputation. People may not want to do business with you or visit your site if you have a habit of talking smack about other sites – how do they know they’re not next?
*Giving False Information – Don’t say something just to draw customers in. This doesn’t help anyone, and when customers stop coming to your site, it will hurt. Don’t make promises you can’t keep or accusations that are unfounded. Keep your information up-to-date, honest and ethical, and your rankings will go up, instead of the other way around.
*Linking to Unethical Sites – Here’s another playground lesson – don’t hang out with the bad crowd. Sometimes you are judged on the crowd you keep, so if someone unethical links to you, don’t link back. Your customers should be able to trust the links you offer them, and if you take them bad places, they certainly won’t come back. Google can also detect this and lower your ranking. Your site is a reflection of you – keep it clean.
It’s tough out there in the world of ranking. Though it may be tempting sometimes to try something new, and perhaps not completely honest, don’t do it. The risk isn’t worth it, and you want your site to be something you can be proud of. You don’t want your customers to come to you for the wrong reasons; they won’t come back.
Google has become much more advanced in the way they rank and how it’s figured out, so what may have once worked will now only get your rankings lowered and your site possible penalized or even dis-banned.
Here’s one more playground lesson to go by – and this should cover it all – play nice. If you continually use original, creative, honest text and material and stay away from the unethical practices, your site will do just fine.
Of all the topics that are discussed within the SEO blogosphere, one of the topics that creates the most controversy and disagreement is that of duplicate content. I think one of the reasons that there are so many different viewpoints surrounding this issue is because there are multiple ways that people define the phrase “duplicate content.”
Since I always believe in going straight to the source, let’s find out what Google has to say about duplicate content. According to Google, “Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.” Now that we have Google’s definition of duplicate content, let’s look at what they have to say on the issue of how it can impact a website’s ranking:
“Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin.”
“However, in some cases, content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic. Deceptive practices like this can result in a poor user experience, when a visitor sees substantially the same content repeated within a set of search results.”
“Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results.”
Plagiarism is a growing problem for webmasters these days, given the implications that plagiarism can have on a webmasters search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, this is an area that deserves some attention. Many webmasters spend hours upon hours writing content for websites, only to sometimes have it stolen or scraped by unscrupulous webmasters, who are either lazy or do not want to take the time to create their own content for whatever reason. Aside from the obvious fact that it is unethical for someone to copy original content and pass it off as their own, the implication that duplicate content can have on search engine optimization goes much deeper than that. Duplicate content can and probably will depreciate the search rankings for one or both of the sites with duplicate content. Read more >>