“Black-hat” and “gray-hat” tactics are increasing in popularity in the SEO community. Search Engine Land writer Stephen Spencer defines these tactics as, “techniques that attempt to achieve quicker results by flouting the search engines’ guidelines.” Sounds a bit risky, right? That’s because it is. Here are some examples of these tactics Spencer provides, why they're appealing, and why they’re terrible ideas.
Private Blog Networks
Private Blog Networks are defined by Search Engine Land as, “a network of websites used to build links (and therefore pass authority) to a single website for the purpose of manipulating search engine rankings.” To achieve the desired outcome, SEO practitioners purchase expired domains and link the domains to the practitioner’s website. Using private blog networks seems like a great way to boost website traffic. However, it’s against the rules and is easily detectable by search engines. This results in penalties to your client’s site in terms of ranking on search engine results pages.
Impersonating Your Competition
Another trend is impersonating your competition in order to give them negative SEO. Duplication can mean anything from copying the competitions’ content across so many sites that the resulting traffic will crash their site to hacking their site by planting malware. This is not only poor form, it’s incredibly illegal and detectable. Is messing with the competition’s site really worth potentially ending up in jail?
These are just two of the five examples Spencer lists in his article, “Flying close to the sun: SEO tactics that may get you burned.” Ultimately, the risks you and your clients aren’t worth the temporary benefits these back alley tactics could yield. “If you are willing to risk a Google penalty for the possible payoff of quicker and better rankings, then go for it!” Spencer says. “Just don’t be surprised when Google gets wise to what you’re doing and your traffic takes a nose dive!”
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