Avoiding SEO Violations and Penalties from Google

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a major component of digital marketing that is used to position website content in favorable positions with search engines. Today most people have been trained that when they want to find something on the web to go to Google or Yahoo search and plug the name of that thing in the search bar. A second or two later sometimes millions of sites come up based on that search. The user then begins to read the short descriptions of the sites or content that have been brought up and that should match the search.

Google has become the uncontested king of search primarily because their algorithms consistently bring up the most relevant responses for users. They are so good at search in fact, that It is hard to tell these days whether Google understands how to conduct a great search, or if they have simply trained us all how to search so that their search engine will bring the results we want. Whatever the case, no other search engine does as good a job.

Because Google is so prominent and important to websites and because SEO requires a committed effort over time, many companies hire a competent search engine optimization agency to manage their SEO efforts and create legal and ethical strategies to raise their presence on Google search.

However, others go another route and search for short-cuts to get their content high on Google’s search engine. This ultimately leads to many utilizing tactics that are unfair and violate Google policies for fair, ethical and/or legal SEO practices. Those operating outside of Google guidelines are said to be practicing Black Hat SEO.

Black Hat SEO

Black Hat SEO is the term that denotes the use of SEO strategies, tactics and techniques solely designed to manipulate how search engines operate rather than focusing on building up and triggering higher search positioning by catering content to the desires of a real audience.

Many focus on aggressive black hat SEO strategies and consistently seek to live in the grey areas of SEO. Google is aggressive in rooting out those utilizing black hat SEO techniques because its business is based on providing search based on popularity rather than manipulation. Via its constantly updated Webmaster Guidelines, Google is clear about what it allows and does not. Here is their list of guidelines:

Google says to avoid the following techniques:

  • Automatically generated content
  • Participating in link schemes
  • Creating pages with little or no original content
  • Cloaking
  • Sneaky redirects
  • Hidden text or links
  • Doorway pages
    Scraped content
  • Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value
  • Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
  • Creating pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware
  • Abusing rich snippets markup
  • Sending automated queries to Google

If your site violates one or more of these guidelines, then Google may take action against it which may include removing it from their search engine.

At the same time, Google says you should follow good practices like these:

  • Monitor your site for hacking and remove hacked content as soon as it appears
  • Prevent and remove user-generated spam on your site

The goal of a search engine is to present to the person searching the most relevant and high quality content available. When some try and manipulate searches, this does not happen. So for the benefit and integrity of search in general Google remains vigilant about violators who use Black Hat SEO techniques.