Common SEO Scams & Spammy Tactics: What They Are & How To Spot Them
SEO is a complex and ever-changing field, and it can be difficult to keep up with the latest trends and best practices. Unfortunately, this also means that there are always people looking to take advantage of unsuspecting businesses.
From “black hat” techniques that will get your website penalized by search engines like Google to so-called “experts” who promise to get you to the top of the search results overnight, it can be hard to know who to trust.
Top17 Most Common SEO Scams on the Internet:
In this blog post, we’ll be taking a look at 17 of the most common SEO scams, what they are, and how you can spot them. By the end, you’ll know exactly what to look out for so that you can avoid being scammed yourself!
1. Guaranteed rankings:
This is perhaps the most common SEO scam out there.
What happens ?
You’ll be promised first-page rankings on Google for certain keywords, often for an exorbitant fee. Be wary of any such company which promises guaranteed rankings in a short period of time.
No one can guarantee rankings because there are too many factors that are out of their control, such as algorithm updates.
2. Link farms:
A link farm is a group of websites that all link to each other in an attempt to artificially inflate their link popularity.
Are these affective?
These links provide little to no value to users and can actually hurt your website’s ranking. If you suspect a website is part of a link farm, check its backlink profile using a tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer. If most of the links are coming from low-quality websites, it’s likely a link farm.
3. Reciprocal linking:
Reciprocal linking is when two websites agree to link to each other.
Are these valuable ?
These types of links used to be valuable, but now they’re not as much because Google devalued them in their algorithm update known as Penguin. If you come across a website that’s offering reciprocal linking, just say no thanks!
4. Private Blog Networks (PBNs):
A PBN is a network of websites that are used to artificially boost the ranking of a money site (a website that’s monetized with ads or affiliate links). These networks are made up of low-quality websites that link to each other and the money site.
How to check ?
If you suspect a website is part of a PBN, check its backlink profile using Moz’s Open Site Explorer or Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. If most of the links are coming from low-quality websites, it’s likely part of a PBN.
5. Article spinning:
Article spinning is when someone takes an existing article and changes some words around to create a new article. This new article is then submitted to article directories in an attempt to get backlinks.
What Google says about it ?
Google hates spun articles. It’s algorithm, Panda, specifically targets websites that are using low-quality content, such as spun articles. If you’re caught using spun articles, your website will likely be penalized by Google.
6. Paid links:
Paid links are simply links that someone has paid for with the intention of boosting their website’s ranking in the search engines. This used to be an effective way to improve your website’s link profile and consequently, your rankings on Google.
Paid links are a Spam!
Today, this is not a legitimate way to build links. Google has stated numerous times that they consider paid links to be a form of spam and will not hesitate to penalize websites that engage in this activity. So, if someone offers to sell you links, avoid it!
7. Doorway Pages:
Doorway pages are pages that are created for the sole purpose of ranking in the search engines for specific keywords or phrases. These pages typically have little or no content and are filled with nothing but keywords and outgoing links.
Search engines consider doorway pages to be spammy and will penalize websites that use them. So, if you come across doorway pages on a website, it’s best to stay away from them altogether.
8. Hidden text or links:
Hidden text or links are text or links that are not visible to users but can be seen by search engines. This type of spam was popular in the early days of SEO but now it will get your website penalized. So, if you come across hidden text or links on a website, it’s best to stay away from them.
9. Keyword stuffing:
Keyword stuffing is the act of cramming as many keywords into your content as possible in an attempt to improve your website’s ranking in the search engines.
How to identify keyword stuffing ?
If you suspect that a website is keyword stuffing, look for excessive use of keywords throughout the website, including in the title, meta tags, content, and anchor text.
You can also use a tool like Moz’s Keyword Density Tool to check the density of keywords on a page. If the density is higher than recommended guidelines, it’s likely that the website is keyword stuffing.
Cloaking is a technique used by spammers to hide inappropriate content from search engine crawlers. For example, they might show a harmless page to crawlers while serving up offensive content to human visitors.
This is done in an attempt to improve the website’s ranking in search engines. However, cloaking is considered spammy and can get your website penalized by Google.
How to identify cloaking ?
Cloaking can be identified by comparing the content that is visible to users with the content that is visible to search engines. If the two are different, it’s likely that the website is cloaking. You can use a tool like Moz’s Spider Simulator to see how a search engine sees a page.
11. Creating redirects:
Creating redirects is when someone creates multiple URLs that all redirect users to a single destination. This is done in an attempt to improve the website’s ranking in search engines. However, this is considered spammy and can get your website penalized by Google.
You can identify redirects by looking for multiple URLs that all lead to the same destination. You can use a tool like Screaming Frog’s Redirect Checker to see how many redirects are on a page.
12. Black Hat SEO scam:
Black hat SEO is a catch-all term for any illegal or unethical SEO tactic. This could include anything from link buying or spamming to hacking into competitor’s websites or using malicious software to redirect traffic from their website to yours.
If someone offers to use black hat SEO tactics on your behalf, not only will you not see any results, you could also get your website banned from Google entirely!
13. Duplicate content:
Duplicate content is when someone takes content from another source and re-posts it on their website. This can be done intentionally or unintentionally, but either way, it’s considered spammy and can get your website penalized by Google.
Identifying duplicate content
You can identify duplicate content by looking for content that is found on multiple websites. You can use a tool like Copyscape to see if a piece of content is being copied elsewhere on the web.
14. Automated tools:
There are a lot of automated tools out there that claim to be able to help with your SEO efforts. However, most of these tools are ineffective and can even do more harm than good. If someone tries to sell you on an automated tool, chances are it’s a scam.
15. Buying social media followers:
Buying social media followers is when someone buys fake followers
Buying social media followers is when someone buys fake followers in order to inflate their social media following. This is considered spammy and can get your website penalized by Google.
How to identifying paid followers ?
You can identify paid followers by looking for an unusually high number of followers compared to the number of likes or shares. You can use a tool like Social Blade to see how many followers a social media account has gained in the past 30 days.
16. Abusing rich snippets:
Rich snippets are special markup that allows you to add extra information to your search results, such as star ratings, images, and product prices. They can be abused by spammers who use them to add extra information to their search results in an attempt to improve their ranking.
How to identify spammy rich snippets ?
You can identify spammy rich snippets by looking for extra information in the search results, such as star ratings, images, and product prices. You can use a tool like the Rich Snippet Testing Tool to see if a website is using rich snippets.
For example, in the image below you can see that the information available in the rich snippet was added manually through coding which clearly raises a red flag for abusing schema markup.
17. Fake calls from Google:
Just as you get fake and spammy calls to ask about your bank details, similarly you may get calls asking to renew your business listing acting as a Google employee.
- The call may come from a Google phone number or another number that appears to be associated with Google.
- The caller may say your listing is about to expire and offer to help you renew it.
- The caller may try to get you to give them access to your Google account or transfer control of the listing to them.
- They may promise top placement in search results if you renew through them, or threaten to remove your listing altogether if you don’t comply.
- In some cases, the caller may even pose as a Google employee or representative in order to gain your trust.
In reality Google does not do a listing, your Google My Business account are what they would just bedazzle and make you pay them a certain fee of their scam.
Make sure you do not fall into this trap!
Check the video below to identify more SEO scams
SEO scams are unfortunately all too common these days. With so many businesses vying for attention online, there are always people looking to take advantage of those who don’t know any better
In this blog post, we’ve looked at 17 of the most common ones. Now that you know what to look out for, you can arm yourself against them and continue building great websites that rank well in the search results!
For someone who is new to the SEO world, these things take time to understand and learn. It is best for you to hire someone who can take care of all these things and protect you from any fraud. Do your research and select a known and legitimate SEO service provider like us.
You can also read our clients satisfactory reviews by clicking the link below.