PBN (Private Blog Network)
PBNs are groups of blogs created solely to direct SEO traffic to a specific site. They’re full of low-quality content, but as long as all of the links point to the same primary site, nothing but the blogs themselves are penalized. Meanwhile, the site—the real culprit here—is exonerated.
This is a relatively new practice, and as a result, it has become the norm in recent years. But, as usual, Google is catching up, inventing new ways to link sites back to these dubious blogs and penalizing them for all those unnatural inbound links.
As you’ve probably noticed by now, some of these black hat techniques do work, at least for a short time. But no one likes a cheater, and sooner or later, Google’s sophisticated algorithms will catch up, and in most cases, the long-term penalties will be far worse than the short-term rewards. If you want to play it safe, stick to the established white hat strategies of the wild, wild west. Alternatively, you can contact your favorite agency to learn more about off-the-cuff SEO strategies.
Paid Links / Link Buying:
The relationship between buying links and good/bad SEO is a bit complicated. Still, Google’s webmaster guidelines make it pretty clear that buying or selling links that pass PageRank solely for SEO juice will have a negative impact on a site’s ranking. However, not all paid links violate their guidelines, as buying and selling links is a normal part of the web economy (as opposed to advertising, which is a completely different beast). Any scheme that involves purchasing a large number of links in order to fool search engine algorithms, on the other hand, is a direct violation of Google’s SEO standards, and you will almost certainly be caught and penalized before long.
Because plagiarism is bad and content is king (source: Bill Gates, 1996), it goes without saying that copying and pasting content from one page of your site (or from someone else’s) to another is a no-no. When search engines detect duplicate content on multiple URLs on your site, they are unsure which URL to display in their results. As a result, they may show neither. This alone is cause for concern. So, if you already see the value in creating useful and relevant content to your audience (which you should), you should also see the value in taking the extra time always to create new and unique content.
Content / Article Spinning:
This practice has become surprisingly common in recent years, thanks in part to the abundance of software designed to assist online writers in quickly “spinning” their blog posts, site pages, and articles into entirely “new” pieces of content simply by scrambling words around (with varying degrees of readability). Simply doing a Google search for “article spinner” will show you the plethora of options available, and you’ll probably get a sinking feeling in your stomach. The irony is overpowering. Not surprisingly, these article-spinning tools are just one of the ways that those too-good-to-be-true email marketers can occasionally deliver on their promise of getting you hundreds of relevant backlinks. However, Google is becoming increasingly adept at detecting spun content.
Here’s an example of a black hat tactic that was once common before it was widely condemned. Keyword stuffing, as the name implies, is when you stuff your copy and metadata with keyword after keyword until it’s difficult to read or feels unnatural.
Always remember that as a digital marketer, creating high-quality content and user-friendly experiences is your top priority. Whenever you stuff a long list of awkward-sounding keywords into your copy or metadata, you’re creating a bad user experience. As a result, people are frequently punished. Instead, try to incorporate keywords into your copy in a natural and thoughtful manner, and always remove them if they detract from your page’s readability.
A doorway page is a low-quality search engine result that has been optimized with content that only search engine crawlers can detect. The idea behind this black hat SEO strategy is that these pages will rank higher for one or two popular keywords. A technique known as “cloaking” is frequently employed to accomplish this.
Cloaking enables people to create websites that serve a different response to Google’s search engine crawlers than what real-world users see, allowing them to rank highly for popular keywords that have nothing to do with their actual content. Together, doorway pages and cloaking deceive Google’s bots into believing your site is more relevant than it is, resulting in clicks from unsuspecting visitors.
Look no further than invisible text to see how much SEO practices have changed over the years. Getting to the top of those search results used to be such a free for all that even the most dubious could fly.
In comes invisible text. It’s also exactly what it sounds like: Adding copy (usually keyword-stuffed copy) to your site that is visible to visitors but not to search engines.
This was (and still is) done in various ways, but one of the most common is making a page’s text the same color as its background so it blends in. Needless to say, today’s search engines detect this easily, and it rarely pays off, even in the short term.
There are numerous negative SEO tactics that can be used to attack a competitor’s site, and we do not recommend any of them. Still, one common example is the use of link farms to generate spammy, low-quality links to another website, which will eventually reduce its search engine visibility. Unfortunately, negative SEO attacks as a whole have become an increasingly viable threat across the industry, and many SEO professionals don’t realize it until the damage is done.
Fortunately, there are methods for detecting these attacks on your website, one of which is proactive monitoring. If you have the patience to identify each low-quality backlink pointing to your site, as well as understand how to use Google’s link disavowal tool.
Spam attacks employ special tools to identify your high-ranking pages, after which links and keywords are generated and distributed across your comments and forums. These irritating links will help your attacker’s site rank higher in search engines but at your own expense. If you do not respond quickly to such attacks, you risk having your site removed from Google’s index.
You can help combat spam attacks by updating your forum’s CMS software, adding CAPTCHA protection, identifying which IP addresses post frequently, disabling links in comments, manually moderating comment threads, and so on.
Check out Google’s Webmaster tips for more ways to protect your site from obnoxious spam attacks.
While clickbait may not be what people think of when they think of “traditional” black hat SEO techniques, the clicks still convert and add to your overall traffic. And, because clickbait frequently results in high bounce rates (which trigger low-quality-content alarms for search engines), it’s never been a good long-term SEO strategy, to begin with.
Nonetheless, Google and Facebook are taking increasingly proactive steps to combat clickbait, implying that many social media pages will soon become more serious about things. We can only hope, after all.