25 Ways to Decrease Your Rankings

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Sure, any old chump can follow SEO best practices and achieve the high SERPs rankings that lead to sustained business growth and profits.  But do you have what it takes to trash years of hard work by flagrantly abusing Google’s policies?

Here’s what you need to do:

Tip #1 – Cloak your site

If you want the Googlebot to swear off your site for good, use cloaking technology that allows you to display an entirely different site from what your readers are seeing.

Tip #2 – Make use of doorway pages

Same deal – if you’re using techniques that pass visitors through one landing page and on to another, you’re violating the Google Terms of Services and guaranteeing that your site will lose rank (if not be removed from the index altogether).

Tip #3 – Scrape articles from other websites

If writing your own original content sounds boring, why not just pull some text off of another website you like and paste it into your own?   Copy too much of the same content from other sites, and you risk running into Google’s duplicate content filters, which will ensure other sites featuring the copied articles rank above yours in the SERPs.

Tip #4 – Use unrevised PLR content

You know those “10,000 PLR article packs” you have sitting on your hard drive?  If you want to decrease your rankings in the search engines, copy and paste them directly to your site without any revisions.  Providing little to no original content (and little to no value to your readers) is a sure-fire way to get your site tanked in the SERPs.

Tip #5 – Keyword stuff your content

Nothing says “effective optimization” like cramming your target keywords into your website as many times as you can.  Consider the following example of good keyword stuffing:

“Take a moment to read my Review of the 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe.  Are You Gonna Buy a 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe?  Watch the Video Reviews of the 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe below to see this vehicle in action!”

If your current website text is more readable than this, you aren’t fitting nearly enough keywords into your content in order to decrease your rankings!

Tip #6 – Keyword stuff your meta tags

Your meta tags represent a valuable opportunity to tell the search engine spiders what your site is about – so why not use this space to stuff in every single keyword you’re targeting?!  Bombing your title, keyword and description meta tags with as many keywords as possible is a surefire way to trigger SERPs ranking penalties.

Tip #7 – Pack your page with SEO copy

Nothing screams, “I’m good at SEO” like a paragraph or two of keyword stuffed text crammed at the bottom of your page where you think no one will see it (I’m looking at you, Red Envelope!).  Since the search engines have definitely caught on to this tactic, it’s another great way to decrease your rankings in the search results.

Tip #8 – Present text in graphics or scripts

So you hired yourself a fancy graphic designer who’s built your entire site out of graphics and scripts?  That’s great!  Since the textual content of your site won’t be able to be indexed by the search engine spiders (unless your designer happened to build an alternative indexable version), you’ll definitely see a drop in the SERPs.

Tip #9 – Over-optimize your images

Want to tip off the search engines to your blatant manipulation of their rankings in order to increase the odds of incurring penalties?  Over-optimize your images by stuffing your file names and ALT tags with every single keyword you’re targeting on your site.

Tip #10 – Ignore keyword research data

The web runs on keywords, so if you really don’t want to get ranked for the terms that readers would be using to find your site, ignore them entirely!

Tip #11 – Hide text on your site

Filling your site with text that’s displayed in the same color as your background has long been acknowledged as a spam technique designed to artificially manipulate rankings.  As such, hiding text on your own site in this way is a great way to incur SERPs penalties!

Tip #12 – “Stack” your title tags

If you really want to irritate the Googlebot, add multiple title tags to each page you create.  After all, if one title tag provides an important SEO benefit, two or more will be even better – right?!

Tip #13 – Use frames in your site’s construction

Using frames in your site’s construction doesn’t just say, “Look at me, I’m stuck in 1996!” – it’s also a good way to make your site difficult to navigate for the search engine spiders.

Tip #14 – Build sites around brand names

Building your entire website around established brand names (or even targeting your competitor’s branded keywords in your meta tags or site content) opens you up to copyright claims.  Depending on how far your competitors decide to take these claims, the more likely you are to have your site dropped from the search engine indexes entirely.

Tip #15 – Generate a low clickthrough rate from the SERPs

Your clickthrough rate within the SERPs matters, so if you want to drop your rankings, totally ignore the content that makes up your SERPs snippets.  (Alternatively, if you want to undo the damage done by low value snippets, consider incorporating your PPC or social media data into your meta tags.)

Tip #16 – Buy links

If major retailers like JCPenney are doing it, buying links should work for your site, right?!

Tip #17 – Exchange links

Link exchanges are another great way to get the search engines on your case about artificially inflating your rankings.  Look into both two-way and three-way link exchanges in order to create the obvious link paths that can lead to rankings penalties.

Tip #18 – Build only low quality links

Want to decrease your rankings for sure?  Low quality backlinks are your new best friends, so get out there and start building profile links, links from spam directories, links from FFA sites and other low value pages.

Tip #19 – Build links in bad neighborhoods

If your site’s incoming links are originating entirely from foreign language sites, adult-oriented websites and other “bad neighborhood” sites, you’ve got a great chance of seeing your rankings drop substantially!

Tip #20 – Build only one type of link

Good SEO is built on a natural backlink profile that resembles one that would occur if people found your site and shared it on their own.  To go in the totally opposite direction and drop your rankings, find one type of backlink that you like and focus on building that type of link only.

Tip #21 – Overload your site with plugins

WordPress plugins and other scripted program can add a tremendous amount of functionality to your site, but adding too many can slow your site down significantly.  And since the search engines prioritize site speed as a ranking factor, add as many plugins as you can if you want your SERPs rankings to crash.

Tip #22 – Ignore your site’s speed

Since site speed now matters more than ever, ignoring this important metric is a good way to drop your rankings.  Don’t bother to run a site speed optimization check and definitely don’t bother to act on the results of this test – doing so could speed up your site and actually *improve* your rankings!

Tip #23 – Ignore errors in your site’s code

Code errors disrupt the indexing process, making them a great way to confuse the search engine spiders and ensure your site isn’t displayed in the right SERPs.  For best results, ignore webmaster best practices that involve checking your code and allow existing errors to remain in place, disrupting your site’s performance and indexing.

Tip #24 – Ignore site uptime

Hey, every site goes down from time to time – right?!  Since site uptime plays a role in the search engine algorithms, you should definitely avoid monitoring your uptime and worrying about whether your pages are live at all times.

Tip #25 – Fail to stay on top of SEO news

SEO is a constantly changing field.  If you ignore major updates, you could take your search results listings by incurring penalties or missing opportunities to excel over your competitors.  Remember, if your goal is to decrease your rankings, ignorance is bliss!

Image: Malabooboo


Sujan Patel
Sujan Patel has over 12 years of digital marketing experience and has helped hundreds of clients increase web traffic, boost user acquisition, and grow their... Read Full Bio
Sujan Patel
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  • Mahesh Mohan

    My 1 Cent – Create a Made For AdSense site…

  • Scott

    Unfortunately, this is how lots of so-called SEO specialists hope to increse the traffic to their websites. I guess the most popular is the keyword stuffing. You see it everywhere!

    Great article, thanks!


  • TheMadHat

    Also could be called “25 Ways to Increase Your Rankings… For a While”

    • Emma


  • Raymond

    Thanks for the awesome article. I have been looking for ways to decrease my google ranking. You know it’s really difficult to not stay on top of google for me. Having said that, can you backlink to my site? I am following your advice of building backlinks on low quality sites.. 🙂

  • Emma

    Good article – a lot of these are very ‘early 2000’s SEO that just don’t make sense to use any more.

    Not sure ‘reciprocal links/link exchange’ should be in there. If you’re only a blog that’s looking to rank for something quite long tail, reciprocal sidebars from blogger friends are a pretty natural looking link. Sure these links are less valuable than non-reciprocal links, but I don’t think it’ll actually decrease your rankings. However, if you are a large company looking to rank for a competitive term, yes, masses of these links could potentially damage your site/network of sites.

    Similarly with buyng links. I’m not going to go onto the ethics of this, but I’m not sure it’ll 100% decrease your rankings. Google might give you a penalty if it figures out that you’ve bought thousands of irrelevant links (see JCPenney). I’ve seen loads of sites ranking for very competitive terms with what are clearly paid links in their profile. It’s very easy for a human to spot a paid link, and although Google are getting better and better at detecting paid links (like, 50 sidebar links that say ‘car insurance’ and no brand links are obviously paid for) it’s not quite there yet. If someone can make their paid links look as natural as possible to Google, they could get away wirth it for a long time.

    So, I’m not saying your should buy links, and I’m not saying it works all the time, but I know there are a lot of companies that can make it work for them and that people should be aware that in a high competition industry, their competitors are probably buying links.

    Apart from those two – well done, good read.

  • Karla

    Great post. I like the “don’t mention SEO in your posts. Still many CMS engineers do “SEO container” or “SEO tags” in sourcs code. Should be listed here , too. Cheers Karla 😉

  • Norm

    I just wanted to point out, that some, or a few, of these methods are valid, to an extent. Having good SEO copy on the homepage is very important. Your example highlights when it is over the top. However, I don’t think what your example has done, will decrease their rankings. Optimizing your images, also a good thing to do, but again, yes, don’t over do it by adding every keyword you can think of. Anyway, fun read.

  • Ashley Baxter

    Sujan, I now manage SEO for jcp. With all due respect, you really shouldn’t make statements like #16 when you don’t have all the facts.

    • Sujan Patel

      Ashley, I didn’t mean to insult JCP’s SEO efforts but I wanted to point out that getting caught buying links can really hurt your rankings. I don’t have all the facts but I have done some research on the types of links JCP and I’m speaking based on that information.

      • Ashley Baxter

        The insulting part is that you stated something which is an allegation as if it were fact. When you don’t have all the facts, you shouldn’t be so quick to make accusations. You could have clearly made your point, based on whatever research you have done, without your assumptions.

      • Sujan Patel

        So you’re telling me that JCPenny didn’t buy links and that JCPenny.com was not penalized? And that JCPenny didn’t email sites linking to them stating “that they are not authorized to link to them”. I guess this email I received wasn’t from JCP: http://bit.ly/HCggxu

        What I love about SEO is that everything is so open. Anyone can check a site’s back links. And when I did, I found links that were obviously paid links (or completely irrelevant at the least).

        I guess Matt Cutts should also check his facts: “I can confirm that this violates our guidelines,” said Mr. Cutts during an hourlong interview on Wednesday, after looking at a list of paid links to JCPenney.com.

      • Ashley Baxter

        It is a fact that we were penalized. It is a fact that emails were sent asking people to remove links. Not arguing that at all. The other is not. My point is, you can look at links to a website and make assumptions about how they got there. But without all the details you should not state, as fact, how they arrived. Neither of the examples you shared in your reply are proof that what you assumed happened actually happened. However, you are free to believe any assumptions you would like.

      • Sujan Patel

        Do you even have any SEO experience or have you done any sort of link building? I am assuming you haven’t. Any good SEO can identify paid links and those are exactly the links I found. Of course, that’s not a fact in itself but the same sites linking out to JCP were selling links. In fact I reached out to a few of the sites and most were willing to sell me a link for 100-200/year. That’s not proof that JCP purchased links but it’s a fact that those are very bad SEO practices that got JCP penalized.
        Look at these links: http://searchengineland.com/new-york-times-exposes-j-c-penney-link-scheme-that-causes-plummeting-rankings-in-google-64529/ose-anchortext You’re telling me these are not paid links?

        I am not sure why you’re arguing this when everyone in the SEO community KNOWS JCP bought links. And regardless of if JCP paid for links or not, JCP got penalized for bad link building practices by Matt Cutts himself.

    • Alan Bleiweiss


      Just curious – since you didn’t state “I now manage SEO for JCP and know for a fact that they did NOT buy links”, your statement, can, to a certain degree, be interpreted as just a year-later follow-up at marketing spin damage control. Because quite honestly, your desire to attack Sujan was itself kind of lacking in facts, given that you assumed Sujan didn’t have the facts. At least that’s the interpretation one can take from how you worded your comment.

      • Ashley Baxter

        Hi Alan,

        I don’t think I attacked Sujan. Apologies to him if it came across that way. However, I think it is safe to say that there are always multiple sides to every story. The media, in general not just talking about what he referred to, usually shows a portion of facts but not the entire picture. That was my only point. The issue is now over a year old so it would be a little late for “marketing spin damage control”. I’ve personally been an avid reader of SEJ for years. During my daily scan I saw something related to my current position. That is why I took the time to comment. I would assume other professionals in my situation who actually cared about what they do would take a few minutes to join the conversation as well. People are obviously free to make assumptions. They just shouldn’t state their assumptions as a fact. That’s all I’m saying.

  • Nick Stamoulis

    Uptime is so important, and not just from an SEO standpoint. When your site is offline your business isn’t capable of making any money. Think about how much revenue your site pulls in on the average day–are you willing to lose that because you went for the cheap hosting company and your site is offline a few times each month?

  • Al Sefati

    You can write SEO copies informative for users and they will help you not hurt you.

  • Aran

    Great post, Sujan. I especially like the point about errors in site code, and load time. Load time is huge. I might also add *ignore social sharing tools, such as google+

  • Justin Howley

    Know what I find funny about these types of articles, is that the majority of sites I see in the top 5 SERPs are the sites that use these tactics. Especially looking for SEO and Web design services.

  • Ignite Visibility

    You are right. Most of these things will get you in trouble. But if many of them are done simply in moderation, they will get you ranked! Its all about optimizing in a responsible way.

  • Ozio Media

    It is interesting how many of these strategies to tank your SERPs used to be considered good SEO, like keyword stuffing and hidden text. To be sure, to kill off your SERP ranking it is as easy as never posting any quality content to your site and then buying enough junk links and comments to scare away the spiderbots forever.

  • Chris Sheehy

    Sujan – this is phenomenal, just love it. Great work!!

  • doruman

    A very good idea for Article Sujan, thank you for that…

    Of course the human mind haven’t limits, each of have seen more than “25 ways…” of attempts to increase ranking in an artificial way – the last decision taken by Google SE with the quick de-indexing of the paid Blog Networks it’s one of many examples as sooner or later any type of “less work” for “faster results”, having as main the principle “artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank” (Google’s Webmaster Guidelines) – so any type of these actions was not an effective long-term strategy and it will fail…

    The examples of unnatural linking clearly expressed by GWG “could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes”… I could say: – SEO began with “S” from “Strategy”…. 🙂

    The last mention “Tip #25 – Fail to stay on top of SEO news” I think it’s important. For some time Google started so called “monthly Google webmaster report” and so far we know, for the month of March of 2012 Google was able to incorporate fifty (50!) search engine algorithm updates…

    A thing rarely mentioned by specialists in search engines it’s ‘monitoring your link partners’… What you think can happens if one or more links from your blog in some time became to send to a broken link (a website just closed) or worst, to a website whose webmaster has decided to push things “on steroids” and send links to “bad neighbors” – and thus your site came to break the Google Webmaster Guidelines too, without you wanted to…

    So I started, the human mind haven’t limits…

  • Evelyn Hayman

    This is great! Don’t forget to make your site entirely Flash based!

  • SEO Dubai

    I think todays SEO’s won’t follow these techniques because they know it will damage there reputation but you can still see these work in pharmacy websites.

  • Muscat Daily

    Great Post. Spammy links are really affect the page ranks according to new google panda update? Any ideas?

  • 咨道

    should add an additional way: don’t miss reading this article if you want to decrease your ranking 🙂