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SEO is a good thing if you stick to the rules of the search engines. Violations, on the other hand, can be really expensive. The penalties imposed by Google and Co. range from lower rankings to a complete exclusion from the index, which can threaten the existence of some websites. In this article we will show you what you have to pay attention to in order to operate "clean" SEO.

SEO Basics and Techniques You Should Avoid

SEO Overview

Black Hat SEO: The risk increases

Black Hat SEO is search engine optimization with measures that violate the rules of search engines, especially Google. What is allowed and permitted is stated in the webmaster guidelines in the case of Google.

You should avoid these techniques at all costs (source: Google):

  • Automatically generated content
  • Participation in link exchange programs
  • Create pages with little or no content of your own
  • cloaking
  • Misleading redirects
  • Hidden Text/Hidden Links
  • bridge sides
  • Copied contents
  • Participation in affiliate programs without sufficient added value
  • Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
  • Creating pages with malicious features, such as phishing attempts or installing viruses, Trojans, or other badware
  • Abuse of Rich Snippet Markup
  • Send automated requests to Google

Video: Webspam Content Violations (Google)

Under the following link you will find a detailed video: https://youtu.be/yFxNda5Z4eE

As a general rule, search engines attach great importance to unique, preferably new content that offers readers added value. However, this alone does not guarantee good rankings, because especially if a website is still quite new, its popularity must first be ensured. A little patience is part of it, which is why many resort to illegal means. The manipulation of links and the use of link networks pose a particular danger. In addition, there are external threats from links deliberately placed by third parties, also known as Negative SEO.

Certain onpage practices that also fall under the term Black Hat SEO are, for example, cloaking and doorway pages. Cloaking means playing different content to search engines than to users. Doorway pages use redirects to deceive search engines.

Cloaking and Doorway Pages

Onpage practices that should be avoided if you don't want to end up in a Google Penalty are cloaking and doorway pages. Cloaking means that a website plays out different content for search engine crawlers than for human visitors. Example: A casino website plays out content for parlour games for the search engines and is therefore also listed in the Google index for parlour games. However, as soon as a human visitor clicks on a search result, he or she ends up on the paid gambling page.

Doorway Pages work in a similar way, but use fast forwarding to deceive search engines. For this purpose, a forwarding via Javascript is set up on the respective page, which is not recognized by the search engines. So the crawlers stay on the page and read the content there, while the users are directed to a completely different page. The result is the same as with cloaking: the page is listed in the index for completely different content than the one that is ultimately played out to the users.

The following applies to both practices: avoid at all costs, otherwise a Google Penalty threatens.

Google has recently updated Doorway Pages specifically for detection. To the article on SEOSüdwest.

The so-called keyword stuffing, i.e. the excessive use of keywords with the aim of achieving a good ranking for these terms, should not be mentioned here, since it has only played a role in the past of search engines, but is hardly used today.

Manipulated links and link networks

Link building is still one of the most popular ways to improve the position of websites in search engines. Link building in itself is nothing offensive: it just has to be natural. If, for example, the link to an article on social networks such as Facebook is spread and then a website then sets a link to the article, then this is completely fine.

However, things look different if you pay for setting links or lure people with other incentives. This is what just happened in the case of the Thumbtack online platform. It had asked its users to set a link and lured with the crediting of bonus points. Unfortunately, however, this has been noticed. The result: Thumbtack has been penalized by Google and can now be found far behind in the search results.

The use of so-called link networks is also becoming increasingly risky. Google is constantly improving its techniques for uncovering such practices. Google uses certain algorithms known as "Penguin", which are updated regularly. Poor links therefore lead with increasing probability to penalties.

Conclusion: Link building is okay as long as it expires naturally. Manipulation attempts, links bought on a large scale and similar methods should be avoided.

Recognize negative SEO and act accordingly

It becomes difficult if you stick to the rules of the search engines yourself, but there are others who want to discredit your own website with the help of broken links. Example: Someone deliberately places a link from a website with a bad reputation (for example from a link network) on a target page with the intention of damaging that target page. As the owner of this target page, you don't notice much of it at first. At the latest, however, when the rankings in the search engines deteriorate, the search for the causes begins.

Check backlink profile

To detect Negative SEO, you should regularly check your backlink profile. There are various tools for this. The first of these is of course the Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools). Here you can download a list of the current links under "Search Queries/Links to your website". This list should be regularly checked for suspicious entries.

Furthermore, there are tools into which you can import lists of backlinks and check them for risk potential. This includes, for example, the Link Research Tools.

Report suspicious links

Suspicious links should then be devalued by Disavow. To do this, you need to create a list of those links that Google should no longer consider and then upload them to Google.

bottom line

Basically, it's not hard to avoid punishments from Google and Co. It is especially important not to cheat when building links and also to regularly monitor your own backlink profile in order to be able to react quickly to an attack by negative SEO. In addition, you should have read the Google Guidelines for Webmasters at least once and know the most important content.

Onpage manipulations like doorway pages or cloaking are relics from the past anyway - not to mention keyword stuffing.

And the principle should always be: SEO needs patience, short-term success cannot be forced. It takes time to establish a website and to move it forward in the search engines.

This article was published on 12 Sep 2018 by sebastian.zientek as part of the topic SEO .

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