11 Things You Can Do to Piss Google Off

If you have a web presence, the last thing you want to do is get blacklisted by Google. Although there are a variety of ways that potential customers can find your site, include a multitude of search engines, Google will likely be your largest single source of traffic. The unfortunate part of this whole scenario is that someone new to the web may not know the dos and don’ts of search engines. To help keep you on the right track, here is a list of 11 things you can do to piss Google off. If you avoid each of these items, you’ll be off to a good start.

If your site serves one set of content to search engines and a different set of content to users, this is considered cloaking. One example of cloaking is providing Google with HTML text but greeting visitors with a flash-only page. What Google sees, and ultimately what people see when they search for your page, isn’t what is actually on the page. Even if it is unintentional Google considers this to be a deceptive web practice and will remove the page from the search engine.

Scraping Content
Scraping content is different from content sharing. Many sites offer their content up for duplication with nothing more than an attribution required. This is okay. What isn’t okay is stealing someone else’s content without permission. In the web industry this is known as scraping content. This not only pisses Google off but it will annoy the person who holds the copyright that you violated.

Violate the DMCA
If your site includes content that violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), expect Google to remove the page and also announce the removal on the search engine results page (SERP). For example, look at this search for P90X DVDs:

The SERP includes several valid links and then several removed links notated at the bottom. You can avoid page removal by simply respecting copyright laws.

Hiding Text from Users
Have you ever visited a webpage that looks rather long but only has a few images or bits of text at the top? If you looked closer you may have noticed that the bottom of the page included a bunch of hidden text – for example, black text on a black background. This offers visitors no benefit and is typically used for keyword stuffing. It is bad practice and will not only cause problems with Google but it also makes your site look amateurish.

High Percentage of the Same Anchor Text
If you use the same phrase as anchor text over and over again, Google will likely consider this spamming. In other words, if you’re working on inbound links for your custom t-shirt business and all of your links use “custom t-shirts” as the anchor text, Google is going to start to question the value of your site. You can avoid this by simply mixing up the anchor text – “custom t-shirts”, “design your own t-shirt”, “t-shirts designed by you”, etc.

Thin Affiliate Pages/Sites
Have you ever landed on a page that you thought would provide you with the information you were searching for only to be met with a one page advertorial? These thin affiliate pages and sites are frowned upon by Google as they aren’t typically a good match for search engine users. If you want to sell products through an affiliate program, build a full site with quality content and useful information alongside the affiliate product and you’ll be fine.

Doorway Pages
Doorway pages are another example of pages that are designed purely for search engines and offer little or no value to visitors. While the page may not have blatant advertising, the purpose of these pages is to draw traffic in from the search engines for a specific keyword and then ultimately funnel visitors to a single destination. This single destination is often advertorial in nature. Again, Google has discovered that although the doorway page may rank well, it is not typically the type of page that the user is looking for.

Hosting Malicious Content
This one sounds like an easy one – if someone hosts a site that automatically installs malware, spamware or other malicious content onto the visitor’s computer then of course Google won’t be happy. What you need to look out for is the unintentional hosting of malicious content. If your site were to be stealthily hacked and malicious content installed without your knowledge, you’d still be responsible and could face the wrath of Google.

Buying Links
Buying links for the sole purpose of boosting your PageRank is a big no no in Google’s eyes. This isn’t the same as paying to have an advertising link placed on a related site but instead it is merely buying low quality links in bulk quantities that could place your site’s Google reputation in jeopardy. Be wary of experts recommending that you buy non-advertising links.

Hidden Links
Like hidden text, hidden links are something you should avoid. According to Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, the following web tactics are examples of hidden links:

  • Hyperlinked hidden text
  • Hyperlinks that are super tiny (i.e. 1 pixel in height)
  • A hyperlink in punctuation or other non-natural place

Of course there are other types of hidden links but basically if you’re trying to make a link less than obvious for nefarious reasons, it is considered a hidden link and should be avoided.

Keyword Stuffing
I mentioned keyword stuffing previously and now I’m going to describe what it is and why it is bad. Keyword stuffing is pretty self-explanatory, you stuff a page with a targeted keyword. If the text on the page doesn’t have a natural flow but instead every sentence or two you see the exact same keyword repeated, then that is an example of keyword stuffing. Many beginners think that by using the same phrase repeatedly they’ll have a higher ranking for the phrase but the opposite is true. Keyword stuffing is the equivalent of spam in your email inbox, it offers no value to your readers and Google frowns upon the practice.

What other things that you can do to piss Google off would you add to this list?

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