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Marta Peral Ribeiro

Marta Peral Ribeiro
– Communication Consultant –

When the SEO wants to overtake the algorithm

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques are used every day in digital marketing. Their goal is to generate more traffic and optimize digital content to appear on the podium of user search results.

However, there is artificially constructed content to elude the algorithm and conquer the first places.

Marta Peral Ribeiro
– Communication Consultant –

When the SEO wants to overtake the algorithm

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques are used every day in digital marketing. Their goal is to generate more traffic and optimize digital content to appear on the podium of user search results.

However, there is artificially constructed content to elude the algorithm and conquer the first places.

What is the (White) SEO:

It’s all the content optimized transparently, which places the user experience first. Apart from presenting content that corresponds to the keywords we searched as well as adding value, its structure is clear and the language is simple, easy to access even in  the mobile version.

Consequently, the algorithm will consider it relevant and present it at the top of search results, which generates organic traffic. Thus, there is an increase in the notoriety of this page and the entity that created it.

And what is the Black Hat SEO?

In turn, the Black Hat SEO refers to practices that attempt to manipulate search results, abusively using optimization techniques (SEO) to position them in the first places of results.

The point is that these actions are only aimed at positioning, not taking into account the visitor’s experience to the site – which violates the guidelines of search engines,  namely  Google, whose focus  is the user.

Examples of a Black Hat SEO

It is useful to know what actions can result in an unethical SEO, to avoid them at all costs. It is worth noting that these strategies vary over time, because nothing on the internet is watertight. Here are some:

Keyword stuffing

texto com excessiva utilização de palavras chaveSource: Pinterest

This is possibly the most common SEO black hat technique. To increase the density of a keyword, the same page repeats it numerous times, whether in text content, title, subtitle, image captions, etc. Consequently, this density will be interpreted as relevant by search engines.

However, saturating a page with the same keywords impairs its readability and context, which becomes a hassle for the reader and will eventually lose points on Google.

How to check the density of a keyword? After optimizing an article, just divide the number of times you used it by the total number of words that the text has. The percentage should be up to 2%. Alternatively, synonyms may be used.

Doorway Pages

Also known as gateway pages, are multiple pages that lead the user to the same page, although they appear separately in the search result.

These pages are optimized with different keywords that serve as a decoy to get a good positioning in search results. However, when we access their content, it redirects us to other pages – usually with malicious content, so they are considered a form of camouflage.

ilustração doorway pagesSource: WebHopers

Cloaking

There are several forms of cloaking, among which:

Page with two versions: Through a configuration, the same page is displayed in two versions: one for the search engine (to index it in the first places of results) and another for the user (no relevant content). For example: a page that appears in HTML for search engine robots, but appears as Flash for the user, which is a nuisance because, again, it does not match what you we are looking for.

ilustração cloaking in seoSource: Santhosh Natarajan

Text camouflage: The idea is to hide content, usually with important keywords, so that only indexers recognize and consider it relevant (by keyword density). This causes the ranking of this website to increase.

For example, a page where a blue background predominates, uses words and links with blue font as well, or places hidden text behind images. The user cannot see them, but the search engine can.

Source: ALI Tech & Co

Private blogging networks (Link Wheels)

Also known as Private Blog Networks  (PBN), it is  a building strategy link to produce more traffic on a website using an external SEO.

In practical terms: several blogs are created that refer to a main website. This flow of connections generates more traffic to the website, which appears as relevant and is placed in Google’s prime positions.

While ethical SEO involves organic backlinks, this technique is an artificial way to get the same, hence it is considered black hat.

Source: Moz

Duplicated content

It means that one content is replicated on the same or other interconnected websites. This practice is ineffective, because apart from not adding any value, the search engines will give primacy to the original content – that is, what was published first.

As an alternative to duplication, we can reset content through video, images and infographics – including on the brand’s social networks.

It is possible that the mobile version of a website, website pages, among others, can be considered duplicate content. Therefore, it is convenient to check what settings have to be made to avoid it.

ilustração links pagosSource: Power Suite

Paid links

This is probably the most difficult tactic to be detected by Google, because it doesn’t know whether the link made to one site to generate a link to another is combined between the entities or is organic.  In the case of compensation, a generated link can be considered to be sponsored.

One way for Google to track the relevance that exists between both websites is to verify that their themes are related.

What happens when Google finds these practices?

Over the years, with the evolution of technologies, the algorithm has also been developed to detect when there is an abuse of SEO.  Which means it’s getting more and more difficult to get around it.

If you identify a black hat action, Google will penalize the page in question by:

  • Limiting organic traffic
  • Controlling the positioning of new content
  • Disqualifying the results list page
  • Banning it (in more severe cases)

In contrast, if any of the strategies were one-off, Google may admit it as a lapse and remove the penalties. In any case, it is imperative to rectify problems immediately.

Why doesn’t Black Hat SEO compensate?

  1. The user will not convert into a client: Once the users realize that they have accessed a page whose content is far from what they expected, they will feel cheated. And with such a fragile connection, they would never become customers. Indeed, if the users’ interests are not the focus, what kind of loyalty could there be with that entity?
  2. Google penalizes: If one of Google’s main concerns is the (positive) user experience and black hat practice represents a bad experience, Google will do everything to make sure that the page in question falls into the results ranking.
  3. In the medium and long term they lose effectiveness: When content is not relevant, the algorithm automatically refers the page to lower places, no longer being presented as first search results.
  4. Loss of notoriety: In addition, it is difficult to be recognized in the market – including competing companies – when there is no fair play. Who will take an entity seriously that does not provide a good user experience?

What did the fable of The Hare and the Turtle teach us

It’s critical that digital marketers keep informed about good and bad SEO practices, not only to avoid penalties from Google but to maintain transparency of their communication and reputation as a brand.

For a brand to reach the consumer and the first positions of the results, the focus should always be the users.

And that means thinking like them: delivering useful and up-to-date information, easy to read, reinforced with studies, graphics or links, and above all have active listening to be able to answer the questions that they ask whether on social networks, on the website or even outside the digital.

Just as the turtle always beats the hare, no anti-ethical strategy outweighs high-quality content that adds value to the user.