How to Spot Spammy SEO Tactics
In life, we have good and bad, right and wrong, white hat and black hat SEO.
You have to choose your fate and weigh your morals. You could steal that candy bar, or you could do the right thing and pay $1 for it. You could rank your website using back doors and black hat SEO techniques, or you could do the right thing and authentically rank your website online.
Now, I’m not trying to guilt trip you — this is simply a matter of what you want your business to be known for. Or, what information you need to know in order to scope out the competition. Perhaps they are guilty of SEO trickery.
Be on the lookout for the following spammy search engine optimization tactics, whether on your own website or others.
We touched on this in our post, These 9 Mistakes Will Destroy Your Google Rankings.
Aside from it being an unethical practice, using content word-for-word from other websites in an effort to rank higher is a terrible tactic.
Your website content needs to accomplish a goal and serve a purpose. By copying and pasting content from another resource online, you’re outing yourself as unable to help users.
Oh, and don’t forget about copyright laws. There’s a reason your teachers enforced anti-plagiarism so much during school — stealing content, ideas, and more happens every day.
If you think you’ve spotted duplicate content on a website, use these tools to help you identify if your findings are true.
Duplicate Content Spotting Tools
A Quick Google Search
Copy a section of content from your website or another website and paste it into a Google search bar. To check for duplicate content on other websites, wrap your search in quotation marks like the example below:
“Insert your content selection here”.
Google will show you where else that content shows up on the Internet.
Copyscape.com is a tool we use often to check for duplicate content on websites. When using Copyscape, select the exact URL you’d like to examine and place it in the search bar.
Copyscape will then show you where else this content is found online
While we’re still on the topic of content, keyword stuffing is the word of the content-related black hat SEO tactics.
Keyword stuffing can be blatantly obvious or tricky to spot. Blatantly obvious examples look like:
As Anywhere, USA’s top coffee shop, we seek to provide Anywhere, USA with the finest coffee shop experience ever. Anywhere, USA residents won’t find a finer coffee shop around.
It can be as extreme as stuffing as many keywords as you possibly can into your website, much like this example:
Or it can be harder to spot:
When writing your website content, don’t get anxiety over strategically utilizing keywords. If you (or the professional content writer you hired) write authentically about your business and services, the keywords will naturally find their way into your website content. Plus, if you rely on the assistance of an experienced content writer, they will know exactly where keywords and phrases should be placed within your content.
Social Media Spam
In order to rank online, search engines such as Google need to see that you’ve created content for your audience and have shared that content in relevant places. One sneaky, black-hat search engine optimization trick to obtaining content backlinks is to post content frequently on social media.
At first, it doesn’t sound like a terrible technique, right? Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do on social media?
Remember, the content shared with your social media audience has to be varied and relevant. Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule with relation to content marketing? 80% of your content should be educational, informational, and help answer the audience’s questions. 20% of your content should be promotional, such as a sale or discount.
By posting random links to your website with messages riddled with keywords over and over again, you’re only aggravating your online audience. What value do they receive by seeing the same link with different related keywords each day?
If you come across a social media account that has nothing but links to their services and keyword-stuffed post text, they are not providing any value to their audience OR their search marketing strategy.
Lead Catching Schemes
This tactic really grinds my gears, for a multitude of reasons.
- It’s dishonest to customers and to the business owners paying for the tactic
- It’s a direct violation of Google’s map listing policies
This quick video explains how to spot these type of Google Map Listings.
Why is this tactic so terrible?
To start, it’s dishonest to the customer looking for a service. If I search for HVAC services and click on the spammy result titled ABC HVAC Service, I’m under the impression that ABC HVAC Service will be taking care of my hearing and cooling problems.
Of course, my information is sent to a legitimate company (hopefully) at a cost. But that company has a completely different name and answers their phone the same way every time. If I click on the phone number for ABC HVAC Service and XYZ Heating and Cooling answers the phone, I’ll be a bit confused.
We’re all for lead generation tactics. What we’re not a fan of are lead generation tactics that violate the regulations set in place by specific platforms. If you can’t play by the rules, you shouldn’t play at all.
How to Report Spammy SEO Tactics
Whether you’re infuriated with what you’ve found or you’ve noticed a competitor engaging in terrible SEO tactics, you do have the ability to report your findings. To report a Google map listing that is violating the terms and conditions, use these steps:
Quick note: While you can report as much as your heart desires, Google will not follow up with you.
To report paid links, keyword stuffing, and other unethical SEO techniques, visit https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/spamreport.