Why SEO Can Get You Blacklisted

Posted 06.07.2017

By Lucy Bradley

SEO is something you’re all well aware of when it comes to your digital market efforts (or at least you should be), and you may have heard the term ‘blacklisted’ being thrown around alot in line with this. But what actually is blacklisting, and how can you stop it from happening?

As you might expect from the name, blacklisting is where Google seriously reduces your rankings, or even refuses to list your pages. This can happen as a result of bad practice, or ‘blackhat’ SEO as it’s known, and this should be avoided at all costs. When you get SEO right it can be be a key to your success; ensuring you are more visible online, whilst receiving the right kind of traffic. However when it’s done wrong, your site can be seriously penalized by the search engines.

Good & Bad Practice

Key to keeping yourself from becoming blacklisted, and remaining on Google’s good side, is to be aware of good and bad practice when it comes to SEO. Essentially, good or ‘whitehat’ SEO is all about fine-tuning your website through various strategies which include using original and engaging content, with relevant keywords and trustworthy backlinks (to name a few). Some people may try to ‘cheat the system’ in order to gain better rankings – take a look at what you should avoid to keep yourself from being blacklisted from search engines:

Buying Links

You may have seen some SEO firms selling ‘high quality backlinks’ with promises of high rankings on Google, however any links you have to buy are quite the opposite of high quality, and you will be penalized by search engines for doing so. Google gives weight to some links more than others, in simple terms, if a link is from a trustworthy site, it will be ranked higher than spammy links from an untrustworthy site – which will hold little or no weight at all. Backlinks essentially operate on the idea of quality over quantity; focus on getting high quality backlinks, from trustworthy sites, over hundreds of spammy links that hold little relevance.

Keyword Stuffing/Hidden Keywords

Whilst using the correct keywords within your content is a big part of SEO, using the same keywords repeatedly in hopes for better rankings is actually a negative, and is known as ‘keyword stuffing’. If we were to do this for digital marketing it could look like this –

“Frogspark is a web design and digital marketing company, we are very passionate about digital marketing, and we can certainly help you when it comes to your digital marketing”.

If the content carries on like this, search engines will calculate the keyword density as being far too high, and therefore may accuse you of ‘keyword stuffing’, which they will see to reflect badly on the readability and overall user experience on your site.

Using hidden keywords is seen is the same light, and is ultimately they are regarded as spam, leading to negative rankings. Now this is where keywords are hidden through colour matching, dev style or perhaps using a separate type of sheet style. Google has seriously improved at uncovering hidden keywords, so it’s better not to waste your time trying to hide keywords in your site because you will get caught out and penalized for it.

Broken Links

Broken links are one of those things you need to stay on top of when it comes to your website, as it is something search engines do not like. However, if you’re not constantly reviewing your site, broken links are something that you can easily miss. Google looks at things from a usability aspect, and in their eyes, broken links take away from the whole user experience, and therefore they are more likely to favour a site who has followed links, as naturally this improves the user experience.

Duplicate Content

Another aspect to SEO which may not necessarily result in blacklisting, but can lead to decreased rankings is the issue of duplicate content. Google favours fresh, original content, therefore when content appears on multiple URLs, it makes it difficult for Google to determine which is most relevant and of greatest value to the user. However, duplicate content is one of those things that can be unintentional and has become quite common with recent content management systems. For example, you may offer a printable version of a page so whilst you are trying to meet customers needs, it looks as though you are simply using duplicate content.

There are various ways you can reduce the negative impact of duplicate content however, this could be through 301 redirect from the duplicate page to the original content. You may also choose to use a rel=canonical attribute, which essentially shows to the search engines that you recognise the page contains duplicate content, yet it should be treated as a replicate of the original URL.

What to do now…

After reading this, you may be thinking you are more likely to be penalized than rewarded by search engines, but usually people are only blacklisted when they make a conscious effort to manipulate the search engine’s rules to gain better rankings. Essentially, if you stick to good SEO practice, creating original high quality content – you can’t go wrong. If this is something you think you could do with some help on however, Frogspark can help!

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