Google’s Search Quality Team’s Opinion about Repeated Violations of Webmaster Guidelines is that if a website Repeatedly Violates Google Webmaster Guideline will lead to stronger penalties. It is very important that website owner and SEOs avoid Black Hat SEO Techniques and only use ethical optimization methods that Comply by the Google Guidelines if you want to get long lasting google search ranking.
Why Does Google Penalize Websites?
Google penalizes sites for engaging in practices that are against Google’s webmaster guidelines. These penalties can be the result of a manual review or algorithm updates such as March 8 Fred Algorithm Update.
Google penalties can result in the drop of rankings for every page of your site, for a specific keyword, or for a specific page. Any drop in rankings brings with it a major drop in traffic for the site.
To find out if your website has been affected by a Google Penalty, you should look at your site Google Search Console Account as well as analyze the timing of their traffic drop with the timing of known Google updates. We’ve seen many websites ranking drop after Phantom 5 Algorithm Update at February 7, 2017.
Known Violations of Webmaster Guidelines
When doing SEO for your website, it’s vital to know what are the methods that are violating Google’s webmaster guidelines. In this section, I will talk about 30 known Google Webmaster Guideline Violations you should avoid.
30 Black Hat SEO Techniques You Should Avoid
1. Automatically Generated Content:
Automatically generated—or “auto-generated”—content is content that’s been generated programmatically. Often this will consist of paragraphs of random text that make no sense to the reader but which may contain optimized keywords.
The emergence of a CMS like WordPress and autoblogging plugin excited some people, while worrying others.
2. Participating in Link Schemes:
A link scheme is when you make a link or are linked to for perceived ranking or monetary benefits rather than usefulness to people. In Google’s Opinion:
Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.
3. Creating Pages with Little or no Original Content:
One of the most important steps in improving any site’s ranking in Google search results is to ensure that it contains plenty of rich information that includes relevant keywords, used appropriately, that indicate the subject matter of your content.
However, some webmasters attempt to improve their pages’ ranking and attract visitors by creating pages with many words but little or no authentic content. Google will take action against domains that try to rank more highly by just showing scraped or other cookie-cutter pages that don’t add substantial value to users.
Also known as stealth, a technique used to deliver the content on a Web page to a search engine in such a way that different content than what is delivered to a regular human user appears on the search engine. The goal of cloaking is to boost a website’s search engine rank on certain keywords. Cloaking is considered a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines because it provides our users with different results than they expected.
Some examples of cloaking include:
- Serving a page of HTML text to search engines, while showing a page of images or Flash to users.
- Inserting text or keywords into a page only when the User-agent requesting the page is a search engine, not a human visitor.
5. Sneaky Redirects:
Redirecting is the act of sending a visitor to a different URL than the one they initially requested. There are many good reasons to redirect one URL to another, such as when moving your site to a new address, or consolidating several pages into one. However, some redirects deceive search engines or display content to human users that is different than that made available to crawlers.
It’s a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines to redirect a user to a different page with the intent to display content other than what was made available to the search engine crawler. When a redirect is implemented in this way, a search engine might index the original page rather than follow the redirect, while users are taken to the redirect target. Like cloaking, this practice is deceptive because it attempts to display different content to users and to Googlebot, and can take a visitor somewhere other than where they expected to go.
The worst thing you can do is to hack other websites to leave your backlink. Search engine robots have evolved, and they are now able to understand what backlinks they are1 crawling. Hiding your backlinks on other websites, or even yours, it’s a sneaky way to build backlinks, and you should avoid it.
Hiding text or links in your content to manipulate Google’s search rankings can be seen as deceptive and is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Text (such as excessive keywords) can be hidden in several ways, including:
- Using white text on a white background.
- Locating text behind an image.
- Using CSS to position text off-screen.
- Setting the font size to 0.
- Hiding a link by only linking one small character—for example, a hyphen in the middle of a paragraph.
7. Doorway Pages:
Doorways are sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries. They are bad for users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. They can also lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.
Doorway pages are often easy to identify in that they have been designed primarily for search engines, not for human beings. Sometimes a doorway page is copied from another high ranking page, but this is likely to cause the search engine to detect the page as a duplicate and exclude it from the search engine listings.
Here are some examples of Doorways:
- Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page.
- Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s).
- Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy.
8. Scraped Content:
Some webmasters use content taken (“scraped”) from other, more reputable sites on the assumption that increasing the volume of pages on their site is a good long-term strategy regardless of the relevance or uniqueness of that content.
Purely scraped content, even from high-quality sources, may not provide any added value to your users without additional useful services or content provided by your site; it may also constitute copyright infringement in some cases. It’s worthwhile to take the time to create original content that sets your site apart. This will keep your visitors coming back and will provide more useful results for users searching on Google.
9. Participating in Affiliate Programs without adding Sufficient Value:
Google believes that pure, or “thin,” affiliate websites do not provide additional value for web users, especially (but not only) if they are part of a program that distributes its content across a network of affiliates.
These sites often appear to be cookie-cutter sites or templates the same or similar content replicated within the same site, or across multiple domains or languages. Because a search results page could return several of these sites, all with the same content, thin affiliates create a frustrating user experience.
10. Keyword Stuffing:
“Keyword Stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose).
Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.
11. Creating Pages with Malicious Behavior, such as Phishing or Installing Viruses, Trojans, or other Badware:
Distributing content or software on your website that behaves in a way other than what a user expected is a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines.
This includes anything that manipulates content on the page in an unexpected way, downloads or executes files on a user’s computer without their consent, or does not comply with the Google Unwanted Software Policy. Google not only aims to give its users the most relevant search results for their queries, but also to keep them safe on the web.
12. Abusing Rich Snippets Markup:
Google’s first priority is to help users find relevant, engaging answers for their search queries. High-quality structured data must not create a misleading or deceptive experience for search users. It should be an up-to-date and accurate reflection of the topic and content already found on the page, such as text, images, and videos.
13. Sending Automated Queries to Google:
Google’s tos do not allow the sending of automated queries of any sort to our system without express permission in advance from Google.
Sending automated queries consumes resources and includes using any software (Such as WebPosition Gold Banned By Google at Early June 2007) to send automated queries to Google to determine how a website or webpage ranks in Google search results for various queries.
In addition to rank checking, other types of automated access to Google without permission are also a violation of our Webmaster Guidelines and Terms of Service.
14. Link Exchanges:
Back in 2007, this was a very common way to build backlinks. Webmasters started doing hundreds of link exchanges, and eventually, Google had to take action against this method.
If you are pointing a few backlinks to some of your friends, there is no reason to worry. But, doing this on hundreds of websites will raise a flag to Google that you are doing something suspicious.
15. Participating in Blog Networks:
Blog Networks are a group of authoritative websites used as a source of contextual links that point to the owner’s main website to achieve higher search engine ranking.
Owners of PBN websites use expired domains or auction domains that have backlinks from high authority websites. Google targeted and penalized PBN users on several occasions with several massive deindexing campaigns.
Starting 2012, Google has started to penalize numerous blog networks and websites that have such backlinks. Almost every month, Matt Cutts announces that they have penalized a new network. If your website has backlinks from blog networks, you are in danger of being penalized.
16. Widget Backlinks:
Google recommends including rel= “nofollow” to widgets. Very important websites, such as Godaddy, have been penalized for utilizing widgets as a link building method.
If you have a plugin, or a badge, and you want people to be able to embed it on their website, give them the possibility to choose to link or not to.
17. Advertorials Spamming:
If you are doing sponsored articles or if you accept such posts on your website, which include a dofollow backlink, Google will consider that you are violating their guidelines.
Google recommends to nofollow all the advertorial backlinks. Google has penalized important websites for using this method as a link building technique, and some include: InterFlora and a few well known newspaper websites.
18. Paid Links that Pass PageRank:
Whether we are talking about text links or image links, Google doesn’t want you to pass PageRank with the links you paid for. They consider this link as unnatural, and recommend you to add a rel nofollow to all of your sponsored backlinks.
19. Spun Article Sharing:
Spun Article Sharing is a black-hat seo technique with the purpose of automatically generating new unique content from existing content, also called Article spinning.
Article spinning involves rewriting existing articles, as opposed to merely scraping content from other sites, to avoid penalties imposed by search engines for duplicate content. This process is undertaken by hired writers or automated using a thesaurus database or a neural network.
20. Backlinks From Link Farms:
Link farms are tightly-knit networks of websites that link to each other for the sole purpose of gaming the search engine ranking algorithms. These are also known facetiously as mutual admiration societies.
Use of links farms has been greatly reduced after Google launched the first Panda Update in February 2011, which introduced significant improvements in its spam-detection algorithm.
21. Backlinks That are Automatically Generated:
Even if it may sound like a fantastic deal to buy 10.000 backlinks for $5 on Fiverr, don’t! All those backlinks are automatically generated, and they will get your website penalized in days. Stay away from all the backlinks that can be generated by Link-building software.
22. Spam Blogs:
Spam blogs are blogs created solely for commercial promotion and the passage of link authority to target sites. Often these “splogs” are designed in a misleading manner that will give the effect of a legitimate website but upon close inspection will often be written using spinning software or very poorly written and barely readable content. They are similar in nature to link farms.
23. Guest Blog Spam:
Guest blog spam is the process of placing guest blogs on websites for the sole purpose of gaining a link to another website, or websites. Unfortunately often confused with legitimate forms of guest blogging with other motives than placing links. Made famous by Matt Cutts publicly declaring “war” against this method of link spam.
24. Buying Expired Domains:
Some link spammers utilize expired domain crawler software or monitor DNS records for domains that will expire soon, then buy them when they expire and replace the pages with links to their pages. However, it is possible but not confirmed that Google resets the link data on expired domains.
To maintain all previous Google ranking data for the domain, it is advisable that a buyer grabs the domain before it is “dropped”. Some of these techniques may be applied for creating a Google bomb — that is, to cooperate with other users to boost the ranking of a particular page for a particular query.
25. Cookie Stuffing:
Cookie stuffing involves placing an affiliate tracking cookie on a website visitor’s computer without their knowledge, which will then generate revenue for the person doing the cookie stuffing. This not only generates fraudulent affiliate sales, but also has the potential to overwrite other affiliates’ cookies, essentially stealing their legitimately earned commissions.
26. Comment Spam:
Comment spam is a form of link spam that has arisen in web pages that allow dynamic user editing such as wikis, blogs, and guestbooks. It can be problematic because agents can be written that automatically randomly select a user edited web page, such as a Wikipedia article, and add spamming links.
27. Wiki Spam:
Wiki spam is a form of link spam on wiki pages. The spammer uses the open editability of wiki systems to place links from the wiki site to the spam site. The subject of the spam site is often unrelated to the wiki page where the link is added.
28. Mirror Websites: A mirror site is the hosting of multiple websites with conceptually similar content but using different URLs. Some search engines give a higher rank to results where the keyword searched for appears in the URL.
29. URL Redirection:
30. Referrer log Spamming:
Referrer spam takes place when a spam perpetrator or facilitator accesses a web page (the referee), by following a link from another web page (the referrer), so that the referee is given the address of the referrer by the person’s Internet browser.
Some websites have a referrer log which shows which pages link to that site. By having a robot randomly access many sites enough times, with a message or specific address given as the referrer, that message or Internet address then appears in the referrer log of those sites that have referrer logs.
Since some Web search engines base the importance of sites on the number of different sites linking to them, referrer-log spam may increase the search engine rankings of the spammer’s sites. Also, site administrators who notice the referrer log entries in their logs may follow the link back to the spammer’s referrer page.
Can My Site Recover From a Google Penalty?
If your website has been penalized, you can send a ‘reconsideration request’ to Google. But before you file a reconsideration request to google, I strongly suggest that you should first clean your website and remove all unnatural back-links created to promote your website. When you confident that your site no longer violates Google Guidelines, submit your site for reconsideration.
When your site has a manual action taken, you can confirm in the [Manual Actions] page in Search Console which part of your site the action was taken and why. After fixing the site, you can send a reconsideration request to Google. Many webmasters are getting their manual action revoked by going through the process.
It’s Imperative that you should not try to repeat spamming after a reconsideration request.
It seems that some webmasters continue to spam Google as soon as their reconsideration request was processed.
However, some sites violate the Webmaster Guidelines repeatedly after successfully going through the reconsideration process.
For example, a webmaster who received a Manual Penalty Action notification based on an unnatural link to another site may nofollow the link, submit a reconsideration request, then, after successfully being reconsidered, delete the nofollow for the link.
Google has made it clear that this will get a stronger penalties:
Such repeated violations may make a successful reconsideration process more difficult to achieve. Especially when the repeated violation is done with a clear intention to spam, further action may be taken on the site.
In order to avoid such situations, we recommend that webmasters avoid violating our Webmaster Guidelines, let alone repeating it.
What Should I Do Now?
Black hat SEO tactics may deliver fast and short-term success, but they come with an extremely high risk that cannot be sustained – ultimately causing long-term damage.
I advocate you to, Avoid All These Techniques at all costs. Only Practice Optimization Methods that Comply by the Google Rules. If your website optimization handled by SEO Agency or Freelancer, make sure they don’t use any of these tactics that I mentioned here.