Google encourages authors to raise their websites’ search engine rankings through organic search engine optimization (SEO). But what Google and other search engines don’t like is when you try to “play” the system in a deceptive, “black hat” way. SEO scams come in several varieties, and trying any of these questionable tactics can quickly get your author website banned:
Author Website Bad Practices and No-Nos:
- Link Schemes. Generally, the more links to your website from other websites, the higher your Google ranking. A thick webbing of links pointing back to your page is a reasonable gauge of how highly your site is considered a prime portal, or a source of expertise, in a given field. Upping the number of links by using “link farms” isn’t illegal, but it’s considered verboten in the Google universe. Just ask the department store JCPenney.
- False Gateway Pages. One unsavory SEO trick is to create multiple portal pages or “gateway” pages that are crammed with super-specific keyword phrases that appear high in search engine results. These portal pages function as a wormhole to a different, spammy website looking to increase traffic—even if it’s uninterested, annoyed traffic.
- Ads That Circumvent Algorithms. Having a website with too many of the wrong types of ads can lower your search engine rankings. Some black-hat-wearing ad promoters try to circumvent the algorithms entirely. Understandably, Google doesn’t approve, so make sure the ads on your site don’t use bad practices.
- Copyright Infringement. Taking content from other sites without permission is called “scraping content” in the tech world and “copyright infringement” in an author’s world. Black-hat SEO operators choose stolen, high-keyword blogs and essays to siphon traffic from a legitimate site to another website solely for purposes of increasing traffic.
- Cloaking Practices. It sounds like something straight out of Star Trek, but you’ll recognize the scam right away. If a website description that ranks high in search engine results sounds perfect for what you’re looking for, but when you click on it, you end up at an unrelated site, this is called “cloaking.” That website is trying to draw unrelated traffic to their own site by taking advantage of high-ranking keyword searches.
- Hidden Keyword-Laden Text. By keyword-stuffing garbled text on a page that’s written in the same color as your background, you’re enriching your website with text without disrupting design. Google knows this isn’t a mistake, and the practice will get you banned. Use keywords wisely and don’t post the whole dictionary.
- Duplicating Content. Putting up several copies of the same text on multiple pages of your website, in the hopes that Google will rank you higher on certain keywords, is black-hat SEO.
- Unfortunately, the Internet is full of hackers spreading Trojans and viruses and other malicious software. If your website is hacked and inadvertently becomes the source of any kind of malware, Google will soon notice and your author hub will become a banned website.
Author Website Best Practices
Whether you’re building your own author website or having someone build it for you, knowing the difference between white-hat SEO and black-hat SEO can go a long way to avoiding the possibility of having your website banned. It’s never a bad idea to take a good, long look at your keywords, metadata, and SEO techniques and ask:
- Is my website secure from hackers?
- Have I duplicated content within my website, or unwittingly copied something without permission from another site? Have I duplicated keywords?
- Does the description for my website that comes up in search engine results accurately reflect what the website offers?
- Do I have ads from outside sources? Do they comply with Google’s PageRank rules?
- Are the links on my website to quality pages? Have links to my website appeared on other, lesser-quality, or unrelated pages?
- Do I have multiple gateway or portal pages?
Website SEO practices, search engine algorithms, and malware hacker skills are constantly evolving. That’s why it’s a smart idea to hire an expert web designer to watch over your author portal to keep it safe, protected, and search engine optimized in the fairest, most organic way.
Question: What do you do to optimize your website for SEO, or do you hire a tech professional to keep an eye on such things?