Every ambitious site owner sets out with the best of intentions, whether it's a vape store or a travel blog. They say, "I'm going to work hard and focus on great search engine optimization and the money will come flowing in!"
Somewhere along the way, though, so many of them go awry. Maybe they aren't getting the results they want. Perhaps they buy into an SEO company who isn't above-board. One way or another, too many sites end up using black hat SEO tactics.
Black hat SEO is a category of SEO strategies meant to trick a search engine. They're dishonest about the content they have to offer. In other words, it's like the spam that's in your search results rather than your inbox.
Aside from being unethical, black hat SEO tactics are getting less and less effective. Search engines have sophisticated tools to detect them, and when they do, they punish your site in your rankings. Here's what you need to avoid in your vape shop's SEO strategy.
Black Hat SEO Tactics to Avoid
Some sites that fall into black hat SEO don't realize they're doing anything wrong. They think they're just "playing the game." Others do realize they're breaking the rules, but they think it will get the results they want.
In today's world, that's rarely true. Here are the tactics you need to avoid.
1. Plagiarism and Duplicate Content
When a search engine presents results to a user, they want to present original and genuine content. If there are two sites on the web with a page of word-for-word identical content, they're heading to the bottom of the search results pages.
It's also worth mentioning that taking content from another site is plagiarism. Some site owners think anything that's on the internet is fair game for them to use as they please, but that's not the case.
Some sites have tried to get around plagiarism detection by using a software called an article spinner. It loosely re-writes the content so it's not the exact same as the source, though it tends to sound clunky and unnatural. Search engines are getting better at picking up on these articles as well.
2. Floods of Paid Links
Have you ever been on a site and noticed there was a double-underlined link on every fourth or fifth word? These are paid links the site owner has sold as ads.
Not all paid links are bad. For instance, if you post a guest blog to your vaping website linking to the guest writer's site in a natural and relevant want, it won't penalize you. The problem is when the link adds no value to the content.
Search engines punish this for a few reasons. First, it tends to point to poor quality content because it's clear the content itself is not the site's priority. Second, these links tend to use very vague anchor text that intends to mislead the reader into clicking.
3. Spamming Other Sites' Comments
This is another tactic you've probably seen "in the wild" and didn't realize what it was doing. Have you ever scrolled to the bottom of a blog post to see comments that had no relevance to the article but included a link to another website?
These commenters are spamming other sites in order to add backlinks to their own site. When another site links to your site, search engines see your site as more relevant because another site saw fit to link to you. Spam comments are a way to get backlinks in a disingenuous way.
Search engines see right through this tactic. If you see spam comments on your own blog, make sure you delete them as well. If you don't, it makes your site look like it isn't well-maintained.
4. Cloaking Your Site
Cloaking is a black hat SEO tactic most people don't know about because it happens behind the scenes. It's the practice of showing different content to human users than you show to search engine crawlers.
For instance, let's say a site is trying to sell a weight loss pill. It detects when a search engine's bot is checking it, and the data it offers them says that it's an article about weight loss tips. The search engine puts it at the top of the search results when someone searches for weight loss tips.
When the person clicks on that link, though, they find the only "tip" the page offers is to buy their expensive product. This practice is openly deceptive, so search engines punish the site in their rankings when they find out about it.
5. Invisible Text
This black hat SEO strategy is exactly what it sounds link: placing text on a page that users never see.
Search engines, on the other hand, still see this text, which is often a long string of common keywords. The search engines give the page a high rank in search results because they think it offers information about a popular topic, even though it doesn't.
The end result is that a user ends up on a page which doesn't have the information they're looking for. Not only will search engines punish your site in the rankings if they find this, but it will send your bounce rate through the roof as well.
6. Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is the practice of using the same few keywords over and over in your web page's content. The text ends up sounding unnatural and not user-friendly, so the user doesn't get the helpful information they were hoping for.
Keyword stuffing was one of the earlier methods of black hat SEO, so search engines are experts at finding it and disregarding sites that use it. Still, there are some sites that didn't get the memo and still try to wrangle high rankings with keyword stuffing.
Keeping Your SEO Above Board
Since the dawn of search engines and SEO, there have been people who have tried to cheat their way to the top of search results pages. As an honest site owner, this takes away your ranking abilities as well.
Instead of stooping to their level, avoid the black hat SEO tactics above. In all honesty, search engines are outsmarting them by the day anyway.
For more hands-on help with your vaping site's performance, contact our vape shop SEO experts.