Modern content marketing is much more comprehensive and intelligent than the fraudulent tactics that were used in the past. However, some of these 'black hat' techniques are still in use.
Most marketers are well aware of the tactics used in order to 'trick' various search engine algorithms that were popular a few years ago. These are commonly called 'black hat' techniques and since their inception, search engines like Google have evolved so that they are no longer useful.
However, that does not mean that these dodgy tactics are no longer being used. There are still those who seek to manipulate algorithms rather than simply produce quality marketing content, and there are also plenty of people who don't realize these tactics are problematic.
Marketing expert Neil Patel says we should be clear about three things:
"1. Black hat techniques don’t work.
2. You shouldn’t be using black hat techniques.
3. Black hat techniques could get your website penalized fast."
This is probably the most common black hat technique still in use, partly due to the fact that keywords are still vital for SEO. However, this technique involves making sure the words are included a specific number of times on a page. The idea is that this would trick search engines into believing that page is incredibly relevant to people looking for that keyword.
While making sure the word is included in metadata is useful, including a keyword in unnatural ways is a good way of getting your site penalized.
"It’s okay to use keywords as means of describing your pages for search engines, but putting a keyword somewhere it wouldn’t otherwise naturally appear is unequivocally a bad idea."
Buying and selling links
One of the ways Google judges the relevance of your site is through backlinks. The logic is; if lots of people are linking back to your site, it must be useful and interesting. This leads a lot of people to assume that paying other people to link back to your site is a good idea. They’re wrong.
Google is able to judge the quality of these links, meaning that if your content is linked to by a site with little or no relevance to it, then it is probably not that useful. In a Forbes article, John Rampton states:
“Call it advertising, if you want, but when it comes down to it, Google considers it a link scheme.”
Search engines prefer completely unique content and are excellent at spotting plagiarism. Kasia Perzyńska, writing for Positionly, says:
“Content purposely duplicated across different domains is perceived as one of the worst black hat techniques. When the same results are found in the Google listing, it is a clear sign of manipulation of search engine rankings…”
Be mindful of how often you quote other content and also refrain from paraphrasing as much as possible. Although you may be trying your hardest to create unique and valuable content, Google could end up penalizing you for believing you’re practicing black hat SEO.
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