Chapter 8: Toxins & search engine spam penalties

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Toxins & search engine spam penalties

Toxins & search engine spam penalties

Anyone entering the realm of program optimization is probably going to encounter some questionable (aka “black hat”) tactics, or Toxins, as we call them in our of SEO Factors.

These are shortcuts or tricks, which will are sufficient to ensure a high ranking back within the day when the engines’ methods were much less sophisticated. (They might even work now, at least until you’re caught.) We recommend staying far away from these tactics because employing them could result in a penalty or ban.

Rest assured, It’s hard to accidentally spam an inquiry engine, and therefore the engines check out a spread of signals before deciding if someone deserves a harsh penalty. That said, let’s mention things to not do.



Showing search engine crawlers something different from what you present to users is called “cloaking,” which can potentially trick users into visiting irrelevant or harmful pages.

Unlike a number of the opposite Toxins, cloaking isn’t something which will happen accidentally — it’s a deliberate plan to manipulate search results, and if you’re caught doing it, you can expect a very heavy penalty.

What about JavaScript issues? “Cloaking is specifically against Google guidelines, but those guidelines are murky at the instant due to JavaScript,” says program Land’s Detlef Johnson. “One server-side rendering (SSR) solution offers it only dynamically in conjunction with spider spotting. When you handle an invitation from Googlebot, you’ll prefer to do SSR whereas all other requests are handled normally, delivering scripts for rendering within the browser. That, technically speaking, is cloaking, but Google looks the opposite way because they’re conscious of the intent.”

“As long as your intent isn’t suspicious, you’ll do this and expect to not get banned. It’s once you reserve some content for spiders that you simply simply don’t display to users that things start to cross the road,” explains Johnson.

For more, see our articles on SEO: Cloaking and Doorway Pages.


You might assume that the more times a keyword shows abreast of a page, the more relevant search engines will consider the page to be to the query. Nope. Inserting keywords more often than is natural or useful to users is named “keyword stuffing.” It’s one of the oldest spam tactics out there and it can still get you penalized.

Don’t repeat keywords over and once again in your headings, copy, footers — anywhere — to undertake to enhance your rankings. There is no magic formula for keyword frequency, and keyword density may be a myth.

Instead, focus on addressing the user’s intent. Whether that leads to a keyword occurring only a few of times or over a dozen times is way smaller than the standard of your content and therefore the value it provides to your audience.


Ripping off someone else’s property — a piece of writing, song, graphic, photo, video, etc. — and spending it off as your own is against the law. That’s not the sole reason why it’s bad for SEO, though: users generally want the first source of the content, and search engines want to supply it for them.

Google’s 2012 “Pirate” update took aim at sites infringing on copyright law. Sites are subject to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) takedown requests. Plagiarizing or hosting plagiarized or illegal content can get you delisted from search results. Check your Google Search Console notifications if you think that a DMCA takedown request has been filed against you.




Seeking backlinks is an important aspect of SEO, but the principles change when money is involved. Paying for links that pass link equity violates both Google and Bing’s guidelines, and doing so can have dire consequences for your organic visibility.

“You might be penalized or banned by Google, and neither could even be an honest situation,” says Julie Joyce, director of operations at Link Fish Media. “Depending upon how bad the matter is, it can take anywhere from a couple of of months to a couple of of years to urge back to where you were.”
To be clear, you’ll pay to possess a backlink placed on another entity’s website (as would be the case with ads), but those links cannot pass link equity. Paid links should be indicated with either a rel=“nofollow” or rel=“sponsored” link attribute.

Schemes aren’t just limited to purchasing links, either: large-scale guest posting services with keyword-laden anchors, link exchanges, blog spamming, and other illicit practices can also end in penalties from search engines. There are numerous samples of brands getting busted for attempting to control search algorithms using these methods — even involving Google itself. If you select to ignore Google’s rules, be prepared for small mercy if caught. And don’t believe programs that tell you their paid links are undetectable. They’re not, especially when numerous of the cold-call ones are travel by idiots.

It’s much better to ascertain your rankings gradually rise over time than taking shortcuts and need to claw your way back after a penalty.

For more, see our articles on Link Building: Paid Links and SEO Spamming.



Site owners who stuff keywords into their pages can also attempt to obscure those attempts by hiding the text. Whether it’s by matching the font color to the background, positioning text off-screen, decreasing font size to zero, or the other method of concealment, hiding text may be a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and may end in a penalty.

Links can also be styled thanks to making them invisible to users, which some site owners might do to visually obscure paid links while attempting to pass link equity. Whatever reason you’ll have, hiding elements isn’t something that users enjoy and is unlikely to enhance your SEO.

There is, however, the case of expandable content that reveals itself when the user interacts with it; for instance, mousing over a link within a Wikipedia article may reveal more information.



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