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Are You Hurting Your Search Results With Outdated Practices?

Explore Some of the Most Common ‘Black Hat’ SEO Mistakes

Are you still trying to increase your search engine rankings using methods you learned about years ago? Though some approaches are still relevant today, others now offer little in the way of results and some SEO practices can even negatively impact a website’s search rankings. The latter are what webmasters call “Black Hat” SEO.  These practices are considered underhanded or shortcuts and are penalized by search engines. In this blog, we highlight some of the most common ones so you can avoid them when coming up with a brand new SEO strategy.

SEE ALSO: SEO And Content Marketing: How Do they Fit Together?


Stuffing Your Keywords

In the past, many companies attempted to boost SEO performance by putting as many keywords as possible on their pages. Though you do want to make sure that there are a few instances of the keyphrase on a page so Google knows the content is relevant, overdoing it can backfire.

As people browse through search results, you also need to have meaningful metadata. If all users see is a list of keyphrases they won’t be able to tell what your website is about and will know that the company is more interested in showing up in search results than providing informative content. They either won’t click on the link or will leave immediately raising your bounce rate.

Additionally, the bounce rate will also go up if you include irrelevant keyphrases. For example, don’t place commercial surveillance keyphrases in a page dedicated to home theaters. It’ll cause people to leave your site quickly and never come back. Google will penalize you both for stuffing keyphrases and for having a high bounce rate for your website.

Collecting Keyword Domains

In years past, others tried to boost their search results by purchasing multiple domains with relevant keyphrases in the URL and linking them back to their main website. For example, an integrator in North Dakota may be tempted to buy various sites including smarthome.com, smarthomeNorthDakota.com, Dakotasmarthome.com, or smarthomeND.com. Not only does this result in more work, but since these sites have no domain authority, you’ll get a penalty for having low-quality back links.

Showing up on page one of Google is in part reliant on a site’s domain authority. New domains all start with a rating of zero (out of 100) and gain momentum through branding, content marketing, and link building just to name a few. Trying to build up the domain authority for each of the domains you’ve purchased will halt your momentum and waste your valuable resources. People are also less likely to trust domains based on keywords rather than company names.

Taking Shortcuts in Link Building

When raising your domain authority, link building is vital. Link building means building up your rating by receiving backlinks from websites that have a higher authority than you. Google will think you’re a reliable site if it sees a lot of other pages linking back to you. While this is a pivotal part of raising your domain authority score, it's not easy to do. It requires creating partnerships with manufacturers, builders, designers, or industry groups or associations. It’s a network that you’re going to have to cultivate over time.
Since it’s so hard to do, many Black Hat methods have emerged over the years promising quick results. Google considers any buying or selling of backlinks a scheme and will penalize your site for it. If you do create a partnership with another site, make sure you don't post reciprocal links within the same period; Google will see this and assume money changed hands.

Attempting to Hide Your Keyphrases

One of the most common practices when SEO first became popular was to hide keyphrases within your coding or the website design. Fonts were purposely small or obscured to include keyphrases that were not visible to the viewer. The goal was to include as many as possible without affecting legibility.

In recent years search engines have wised up and actively resisted these practices.  For one, Google will no longer index hidden codes, and it will penalize sites that have purposely deceptive designs. To avoid this type of penalty, chose different colors for your copy and background to make it clear that nothing is hidden.

When optimizing your website for search engines, it’s important that you do things the right way to enhance your results and avoid penalties. If you have questions about your current SEO strategy and how we can help leave a comment below, fill out our online contact form or reach out via our live-chat.


author debora ruby small

Author:  Debora Rubi

Title:  Content Manager

About:  As a Content Manager at One Firefly, Debora is responsible for supporting One Firefly clients by producing engaging web content in the form of blogs, press releases, social media updates, newsletters and case studies. Debora graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Communications Studies and Political Science and worked as a sports editor before joining One Firefly in 2015. When not in the office, Debora spends most of her time watching sports –particularly soccer—and cuddling with her adorable lab terrier mix, Holly.



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