Imagine this: In a blink of an eye your website vanishes from Google. Trying every variation of your domain name in the search box — but nothing. You, my friend, have been de-indexed from Google.
That’s a tragic place to be in. All your hard work gone up in smoke, you are effectively invisible to everyone in the world now. This is exactly the spot that iAcquire found themselves in May 2012 when they were caught up in the Dun and Bradstreet link buying scandal. JC Penny, Forbes, and Overstock also found themselves in a similar position (being penalized for link buying, but not necessarily flushed from Google’s index).
Never mind whether or not you agree with Google’s rules, and the punishment meted out, Google’s rules are the ones everyone has to play by. These rules, and the penalties, should not really surprise anyone. And no one should need to have described how crucial search is to a business’ success online either. Although social recommendations are catching up, search remains the number one way to drive traffic a website. All this is common knowledge, I only reiterate to hammer home how crucial it is to have a healthy relationship with search engines.
Now that we’re focused on the horror of “de-indexing”, unnatural link acquisition isn’t the only way to get banned by Google. There are actually quite a few more. If you are new to SEO, let this be a warning. If you are a seasoned SEO, let this be a reminder—or a crib sheet you can forward to anyone who is suggesting you do WHATEVER it takes to rank them. Here’s a list of absolute “don’ts” where ranking is concerned.
The cloaking process works like this: You show search engines one thing and your visitors something else. The most obvious example would be a site promoting kayaking in the search results, but sending the searcher to a pornographic page. Or one selling Viagra. Or some shady off-shore tax scheme.
Cloaking is accomplished by delivering content based upon the IP address or the User-Agent HTTP. If a search spider is detected, then a server-side script delivers the kayak version of the page. If a user is detected, then the pornographic content is served.
This practice is deceptive—and flat-out forbidden by Google.
2. Duplicate Content
Black hat SEOs will try to boost page views by creating multiple pages of the same content. This is a pretty straightforward tactic, but is equally condemned by Google. Spammy sites and repeat offenders will more than likely get canned from Google—or at least dropped to the bottom of the barrel in search rankings.
Here’s the thing: You can inadvertently create duplicate content on your website through category, tag, and archive pages. This won’t get you banned from Google, but it could get you penalized.
And what about people stealing your content? Notify Google.
3. Writing Content with a Machine
As you can probably guess, black hat SEOs are lazy, and this vice is seen most clearly in the tactic of getting machines to create content.
Sometimes this is generated from scratch, but more often than not, this content is created by scraping already existing content, modifying the document, and then re-publishing.
The motto in this example is “I’m not going to waste my time creating content when I can borrow someone else’s and make it mine.” Google will punish this.
4. Add Unrelated Keywords to Your Content
Keywords aren’t what they used to be in the search marketing game, so you don’t see a lot of keyword stuffing anymore. But that doesn’t mean Google won’t punish this practice. You see, some SEOs still recommend this.
Never list keywords that don’t relate to your site, repeat a keyword that does relate to your site dozens of time, and embed brand name (trademarked no less) and competitor name keywords. This may not only get you banned, but it could get you a lawsuit.
5. Joining Link Exchanges and Bad Neighborhoods
Online etiquette says that if someone links to you that you should link back to them. Well, that’s debatable.
Google will judge your external links just as closely as they will evaluate the incoming links to your site — and they will evaluate the quality of those sites sending and getting links from you. Linking out to low-quality sites can damage your reputation and lower your Page Rank. Trade in paid links and you will get banned. Just ask iAcquire.