SEO Techniques That Will Get You in Trouble in 2020
by Liam Hunt
Whether you’re a small e-commerce vendor, a budding brick and mortar business owner, or a digital marketing agency, the last thing you want to happen to your online brand is a Google penalty. If Google flags you with a penalty, it’s going to seriously hurt your website’s search engine rankings, tank its visibility, and take away from your sales.
Most businesses that rely on generating high web traffic can’t afford to get hit with a Google penalty. At this point, the questions we’re often asked are: what are Google penalties, and how can I prevent Google penalties?
The second question has an easy answer: don’t commit black-hat SEO. The first question, however, is a bit more complicated. So, let’s unpack it for a minute so you can stay clear of these costly penalties and keep your website visible to as many customers as possible.
What’s A Google Penalty?
In short, a Google penalty is an update to Google’s PageRank algorithm that negatively affects a given website’s position on search engine results pages (SERPs). Google penalties can be issued following manual review by a Google employee, or they can arise from algorithm changes that find new websites that have violated Google’s webmaster guidelines.
If you’re lucky enough to own a website that appears on the first SERP, receiving a Google penalty can be a critical blow to your bottom line. Since Google accounts for 93 percent of all web search traffic, having your website drop from the first SERP to the second or third will result in an immediate and dramatic loss of revenue. In other words, Google penalties cannot be ignored.
Black-Hat SEO Tactics to Avoid in 2020
Updates to the Google PageRank algorithm, such as Penguin and Panda, have imposed new rules on website owners. If your website fails to meet Google’s “quality standards,” (i.e., you’ve committed a black-hat SEO offense), then your website’s going to be penalized.
Fortunately for you, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular black-hat SEO tactics that you can avoid in 2020 to keep your website visible.
If your website has an SEO strategy, you’re probably researching and utilizing keywords in your web content. While this is an excellent tool for promoting visibility for high-traffic keys, it can cost you big-time if you overdo it.
Keyword stuffing occurs when a webpage is loaded with an excessive number of keywords at a high frequency that either (i) appears outside of natural prose, (ii) are out of context, or (iii) are presented in a list.
Keyword violations are among the easiest Google penalties to prevent. Many of them are violations of common sense (i.e, don’t repeat “best baseball gloves” 10 times in the same paragraph), and never repetitively stuff a keyword more than a dozen or so times in a single article.
Building out trustworthy, high-quality backlinks to your web content is one of the most difficult aspects of an SEO strategy. That’s why so many website owners resort to black-hat link-building tactics to either cheat or buy their way to a link.
Although purchasing do-follow links to web content was once a widely practiced and legitimate SEO technique, those days are gone. Google’s caught on to this trick, and now heavily penalizes websites that practice any form of inorganic link-building, including:
- Writing promotional guest posts
- Collecting links on blog networks
- Spamming links on comment sections
- Buying paid links without a no-follow attribute
Having No Security Certificate
In 2020, there’s no excuse for your website not to have an HTTPS security certificate. This is especially true if you operate an e-commerce store, where shoppers are entrusting you with their sensitive financial information.
A basic secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate is a crucial part of HTTPS, which proves to your visitors that your website is using a protocol that secures their data via encryption. If your domain is lacking a security certificate, your website won’t appear with a little green lock icon next to its URL, which is a deal-breaker for many risk-averse shoppers. Plus, Google always prefers cryptographically secured websites.
Republishing or “Scraping” Content
You can’t parrot information or content that’s already found elsewhere on the internet. Whether you’re republishing or rewriting content that already appears online, Google will likely flag you for it. For your website to perform well under its PageRank algorithm, you must produce 100% original, valuable content that isn’t a mere reproduction of one or more existing articles.
You Haven’t Disavowed Low-quality Backlinks
Google doesn’t like it when “low-quality” websites (i.e., adult, gambling, or spam sites) link to your website. If you find any such website linking to your content, you can disavow low-quality backlinks via Google’s Search Console, which converts them to no-follow links.
Conclusion: Stay Clear of Black-Hat SEO Techniques
SEO can make or break your business. That’s why it’s better not to take chances or make risky decisions by employing black-hat SEO techniques. Instead, stick to the tried-and-true method of SEO success: making value-added content that your readers love.
There are many SEO myths that are hurting your rankings and your bottom line. For instance, many webmasters falsely assume that they can purchase do-follow links with impunity—however, Google goes to great lengths to ensure that anything that manipulates their PageRank algorithm is worthy of penalizing.
Don’t let this discourage you from trying out new digital marketing tips and tricks, but be aware that lazy or manipulative content is going to hurt your business. As a content producer, it’s always in your interest to create high-value, useful content that your customers or readers can’t help but share with their network—that is, and always has been, the secret to SEO success.
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