1. Buying links
Before Google’s Penguin algorithm was introduced in 2012, buying links for your business or website was one of the best ways to rank higher, within Google’s SERPs. However, since Google clamped down on this black hat SEO link building technique – sites are being penalised left, right and centre. Sure, back in its hay day buying links was a great method for building up your back link profile for a fixed sum, with less working hours dedicated to building links.
But this isn’t the right way to build links anymore…
Your website needs to have a strong backlink profile which has relevant and high-authority sites linking to your business domain. Since Google released the Penguin update, websites that had previously purchased links or obtained very poor quality links were penalised.
We still see businesses who purchase poor quality backlinks through sites such as: Fiver & Backlinks.com. This is really poor from an SEO perspective and known as a ‘Black Hat SEO’ tactic. The businesses purchasing these links will ultimately see ranking decreases over time.
You’re probably thinking how Google finds these links… These poor quality backlinks are found in a matter of minutes, with the likes of Google Search Console & Majestic.
Don’t worry, if you’re guilty of purchasing backlinks in the past and you don’t want to be penalised for it. This can be rectified by creating a disavow file and uploading to Google’s Search Console. Within the disavow file, you will be able to compile a list of low quality backlinks that are currently linking to your site. By including them in a disavow file, you are notifying Google that you no longer wish to be associated with those poor links.
2. The cloaking technique
Cloaking is a poor SEO technique that is used to deliver content on a website to a search engine in a completely different way from a typical site user. Websites using this method aim to increase a particular site’s rankings within Google’s search results for specific keywords.
Many of the larger search engine companies oppose cloaking because it frustrates their users and does not comply with their standards. Within the SEO industry, cloaking is considered to be one of the poorest black hat SEO techniques around. Should a website get caught using cloaking, it could result in huge penalties from a number of search engines, including being removed from the index altogether.
3. Private blog networks
Recently Google started to take action against private blog networks (PBNs). A private blog network is typical black hat tactic. Note that the sites in the PBN don’t really have any value unless they themselves have links from other sources.
Private Blog Networks go through a process of acquiring recently expired domains, which have third-party external links, and include fresh, relevant content within these blogs, in the hopes that this will give the links out from the site value.
4. Keyword stuffing
Keyword stuffing was a common SEO practice in years gone by, but it is now a thing of the past…
So, what is keyword stuffing? Well, it’s quite self-explanatory… it’s when websites include as many keywords as possible on a singular page without any value. Back in the day, if you had a lot of SEO keywords on a page, Google would recognise that page as a relevant source. Websites could even rank for keywords, which were completely unrelated to each other, even if the site was completely absent of any real content.
There was also another keyword stuffing method called “keyword hiding”. This method was when websites included lots of keywords on a page, and used the same font colour as the background of the page. Meaning a user on a website wouldn’t be able to view the keywords, but a Googlebot would.
Google and all of the other search engines soon began to acknowledge how poor this technique was and started punishing sites for this SEO method. For the simple reason of user experience, site visitors aren’t looking for a keyword to be mentioned 100 times on a page: they are after content that is going to benefit users.
Content is key, and this is becoming more prevalent. Content on a site needs to be user friendly and understandable from a reader’s perspective. People visiting your site should be able to understand the purpose of each individual page, without keywords being overused.
5. Poor Quality Content/Thin Content
Have you ever visited a page on a site and thought – this doesn’t add any significant value to me as a reader?
Well this is down to thin content. Thin content can be identified as low quality pages, which contain very little content on the pages. Other examples of thin content also include: duplicate pages, automatically generated content or doorway pages.
With Google’s Panda algorithm in full force, websites are being penalised more than ever before for poor quality and thin content. Websites with optimised content will have a significantly better chance ranking higher for keywords, in comparison to websites with poor content.
If you’re not sure if your business has thin content on the site, then it’s always best to check. Not sure how to do this?
Simple, check the bounce rate on your site!
Bounce rate is huge indication of user satisfaction for a website and by analysing the bounce rate of your site is the best method to measure the quality of your content. If your website has a high percentage bounce rate on specific pages, then it’s a clear indication the users on the site are not engaged by the content, which you’ve created.
So, if you’ve noticed that organic sessions to pages on your site have dropped significantly or you have seen that users have only stayed on the page for a very little time, then it’s worth reviewing the on site content.