There are some practices that are now widely known for leading to Google penalties: duplicate content, for example, or bad link building. But then, there are lesser-known manipulative tactics that some website owners (or their SEO companies) are using – and those tactics are about to send them straight to the bottom of the rankings. For new webmasters & business owners who are uninitiated with SEO, keeping up with knowledge and avoidance of these tactics can feel like starting a race later than all the other participants. Here are a few very important tactics to avoid that our Los Angeles SEO team wanted to share with you.
Manipulating Browser History
Some webmasters and black hat SEOs have taken to manipulating the back button on the browser. The technique is designed to trick users into thinking they are still on Google search results, rather than a page of search ads (which is what they are actually on). The paid search ads on that results page are (presumably) bought by the manipulating site owners. If it sounds complicated, it is; but fortunately, Google has declared that these spammers are on the algorithm’s radar and they will not be getting away with it much longer.
Overpowering Your Layout with Ads
Selling ads is one way that website owners can monetize their sites and make them tools for generating revenue, in addition to marketing. But when users are inundated with ads on a website, they get frustrated by the poor experience. In response, Google introduced the Page Layout algorithm. Matt Cutts, head of Webspam, described it this way:
“Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away…If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold, or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience. Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.” Another way to refer to this practice is making a website “top heavy.” If your site is top heavy with ads, beware; penalties are likely to come your way soon.
Hiding text inside content is a technique that has been used for years, but it is now a good way to incur a Google penalty. Because the text that is being hidden is usually made up of keywords, this practice is the same thing as keyword stuffing in the eyes of Google. Some of the most manipulative ways to hide text include placing white text on a white background, placing text behind an image and setting the font size to 0. Some CSS style sheets even allow web developers to position hidden text off-screen (don’t ask!).
Avoiding a Google penalty with legitimate SEO techniques
All of these text hiding tactics are equal to spamming search engines, and they will lead to a penalty in rankings. However, there are ways to provide descriptive text for your images that will be acceptable to Google; if you are interested in learning about these legitimate SEO techniques, our Los Angeles SEO firm will be glad to answer questions during your free phone consultation.