The world of search engine optimization used to be very much like the Wild West. It was a new frontier after all. A gold rush of sorts. And where there is plenty of opportunity to make money, there are also plenty of ‘opportunists’ looking to cut corners and manipulate the system so as to get ahead.

Times have changed. And many of the old ‘practices’ (if you can call them that) have since been outlawed by Google. Here’s a look at some of the methods that used to be the norm.

1. Hiding text on a web page

A classic “outlawed” SEO practice was to add tonnes of keywords to a web page and then make them invisible by changing the font colour to match the background. In doing so it would signal to Google’s algorithm that the web page was even more relevant than it was.

So for example, if local SEO Melbourne was your focus keyword, you would post that keyword and a number of variations over and over again on the same page and then hide the text. That way you could keep your website copy short and sweet while still benefiting from a high keyword density.

Of course, Google eventually caught onto this cheeky practice and began penalising any marketers who would attempt to pull the wool over their eyes.

While you can’t deny the ingenuity in this ‘hack’ it is a poor practice indeed.

If you’re thinking about giving it a whirl, don’t bother. There are no shortcuts in modern SEO.

2. Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is another “outlawed” SEO practice and the worst part? Many people still try their luck with this method today.

Keyword stuffing is (much as it sounds) the process of forcing as many keywords as possible into your website content.

Similar to the ‘hidden text’ method, keyword stuffing was developed on the notion that the more keywords you have mentioned on your website, the more relevant it will be in the eyes of Google and thus the better your website will invariably rank.

Not so.

Today, it is very important to get your focus keywords on the page, but you must do so as naturally as possible.

To put it simply: if adding a keyword takes away from the flow or overall readability of the content then it is poorly placed.

Google wants natural and conversational language – as do your readers.

3. Spamming comment sections

Seeding spam is an awful practice that is still very much alive today. In essence, competitors would head over to your blog, create a fake profile, and then comment on your posts with spammy links to fake or dangerous websites – thus resulting in you being penalised by Google.

The only way to combat this is to either restrict commenting entirely (which is not advised if you wish to grow and engage with your audience), or remain ruthless and check every single comment you receive.

There is also plenty of software you can use to ensure that your comments are actively filtered using “nofollow” on outbound links.

If you maintain good ‘hygiene’ and frequently remove spam comments and low-quality links, you shouldn’t run into too many problems.

4. Buying “cheap” bulk links

Attempting to make your website more authoritative in the eyes of Google by purchasing bulk links for “cheap” is a no-no.

You’ve likely encountered these would-be marketers before. Some “chance of a lifetime” deal on 10,000 links for less than it costs to rent a car for a weekend.

It is too good to be true.

Fake websites, incomprehensibly poor-quality writing, and a guaranteed Manual Action from Google.

Don’t mistake guest blogging with buying links; there is a gargantuan difference between the two practices.

5. Cloaking

Cloaking refers to the process of serving two very different versions of a website depending on whether the traffic is coming from a web browser or a search engine.

In other words, the search engines will see a very text-heavy website packed full of keywords, whereas a human visitor will typically be faced with a simple conversion-centric website that is designed to manipulate people into giving up their card details and rushing into a purchase.

Not good.

Oh how times have changed

While a number of these practices do still occur today, it is fair to say that Google has done an excellent job of identifying black-hat SEO practitioners and penalising them accordingly.

If you are in the process of finding a digital marketing agency (among other services your company might need) to help you market your website, make sure you do your due diligence.

Ask them what methods they use and how they measure success. The best agencies will be more than happy to talk you through the way they like to work.

Those who come back to you with vague meanderings likely have something to hide.

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Lisa Freire is a versatile writer with a passion for exploring a wide range of topics. From the latest tech trends and digital marketing insights to business strategies, lifestyle tips, SEO hacks, travel adventures, and gaming reviews, Lisa's diverse expertise shines through in her articles. With a knack for simplifying complex concepts and a commitment to delivering valuable content, she aims to keep readers informed, inspired, and entertained across various subjects.


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