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how to Report black hat seo sites
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With an increasing number of businesses realising the importance of digital presence, the competition to rank on Google is getting wild and brutal. 

While most SEOs operate ethically and abide by Google guidelines, we can’t deny the fact that there are always exceptions.

Some businesses and SEO vendors prefer taking the easy way by breaking or bending the rules of search engines. It’s (in)famously termed as black hat tactics in the SEO community. 

So when you come across websites that use such black hat SEO tactics, you can:

  • Ignore and let them take the valuable ranking positions (sometimes at the cost of your ranking), or 
  • Take responsibility for cleaner internet space and report it to Google

If you choose the latter, we’ll show you how to report sites that use black hat SEO to Google. 

But let’s dive into some basics first. 

What is Black Hat SEO?

The SEO tactics that violate the search engines’ guidelines to manipulate the search results are referred to as black hat SEO. Here, the idea is to exploit the loopholes of search engine algorithms. 

All the major search engines have published guidelines on practices to follow and avoid. For instance, here are Google Webmaster Guidelines

Besides the practices you should follow, they’ve clearly mentioned the techniques (discussed in a later section) you must avoid. 

Why Should you Avoid Black Hat SEO Techniques?

Here are the reasons you must avoid using black hat SEO tactics:

1. No long-term results

Black hat tactics may work for you in the short run and give you some quick gains. However, they’re not sustainable in the long run. 
It’s because Google may take some time to determine if your site is using such tactics. So initially, you may successfully manipulate the algorithms and rank high. But eventually, when Google figures out your tactics, your rankings and traffic both will drop. 

2. Google penalty

By violating the guidelines, you always run the risk of being penalised by Google. The penalty could be in the form of lower rankings for your site or a complete omission from Google’s search index. 

3. Poor user experience

User experience (UX) is one the top priority of Google. And using black hat SEO tactics downgrades the UX on your site. So the users may leave your site quickly, which is a signal of negative UX to Google. This can adversely affect your ranking, traffic, leads, and conversions. 

If you’re not sure whether your SEO strategies are aligned with Google’s guidelines, you can hire external SEO services to audit your site and make it white hat SEO compliant. 

What are some Commonly Used Black Hat SEO Techniques?

Before we learn how to report black hat SEO cases to Google, first, let’s understand some of the most commonly used black hat SEO techniques. 

1. Keyword stuffing

When you try to stuff your content with the keywords you want to rank for, it’s called keyword stuffing. It used to work a decade back, but not anymore. Google algorithms are much more advanced now. 

2. Paid links

Building a solid backlink profile is a marathon, not a sprint. That’s why many SEOs take the easier way and buy backlinks to improve their site’s authority and ranking. Google considers this a part of link schemes and your site may get penalised for participating in link schemes. 

3. Doorway pages

These are the sites or pages created to rank for specific search queries and lead users to the same destination. For example, having multiple domains or pages targeted at regions where your business doesn’t operate, but you just want to funnel traffic from those regions to your target page. 

4. Cloaking

It’s when you present different content or URLs to search engines than what you show your users or vice versa. It’s a deceptive tactic aimed at manipulating rankings. 

5. Manipulative redirects

There’s nothing wrong with using redirects with the right intentions like preparing for site migration, page no longer exists, content consolidation, etc. But if it’s a sneaky redirect that takes users to a different page than what it showed in search results, it’s a black hat tactic. 

6. Hidden text

For example, when you use white text on a white background or use a font size of zero, users can’t see the text but search engines can. SEOs and webmasters use this technique to load pages with excessive keywords in order to rank. But it hurts your SEO more than it does good.  

7. Auto-generated content/article spinning

Creating quality content takes time and effort. Hence, some black hat SEO practitioners use software that generates multiple unique content pieces by spinning the original article. They mostly use such content pieces to publish on low-quality sites to get backlinks from them.  

However, backlinks gained from such sites hardly pass any link juice that can help boost your ranking.

8. Negative SEO

This technique is not just black hat but also unethical and malicious. Here, the practitioner’s attempts are not to rank their own site. Instead, they try to sabotage competitor websites with negative SEO attacks. 

For example, bombarding competing sites with spammy backlinks and/or paid negative reviews, or even extreme attacks like hacking the site. With that in mind, consider conducting a periodic backlink audit to check to ensure that your site doesn’t have spammy backlinks. 

9. Phishing

These are pages created to steal users’ personal information. They are intentionally designed to look like the pages of other popular and trusted sites so that users trust them and give away their information.  

10. Exact match domain (EMD)

EMD refers to keeping the domain name exactly the same as the keywords you intend to rank for. Examples include choosing domain names like healthinsurance.com or roofingservices.com. 

While it’s not unethical, having the exact match domain makes your site more vulnerable to Google penalties. That’s mainly because it increases the occurrence of backlinks with an exact match anchor text and keyword stuffing on landing pages.  

11. Copying competitor’s domain name

Some black hat practitioners also use sneaky tactics like buying a domain name identical to an established competitor. Their intention is to rank for the branded keywords and steal competitors’ traffic. 

However, it can be more challenging than rewarding because you may face trademark infringement claims and pay heavy fines for the same. 

Why Should you Report Black Hat Spam?

Think of it from a business perspective: If your primary channel for customer acquisition is organic traffic, then you should also help Google improve the quality of search results. 

By reporting black hat spam to Google, you make them aware of the loopholes that are being exploited to manipulate search rankings. Thus, Google can improve their algorithms to detect such unethical practices and create a better search experience for users. 

Besides, if a site that uses black hat tactics ranks in the search results, then users — which also includes your target audience — may not get the best quality information. That’s because these sites may end up outranking the sites with quality content. 

Furthermore, as a business owner, you should promote fair competition. So, by reporting the black hat spam to Google, you can help Google create a level-playing field for all webmasters where no particular site can enjoy an unfair competitive advantage. 

At the same time, bear in mind that this feature shouldn’t be misused to report the competitors that follow Google’s guidelines (or, white hat SEO techniques) and you’re not able to outperform them. It’s as good as the negative SEO attack we discussed earlier. 

How to Report Black Hat SEO to Google?

Now that we’ve discussed the whats and whys of reporting black hat SEO techniques, it’s time to learn how you can go about it. 

Besides, let’s also understand Google’s take on reporting spam, in their own words: 

“If you find information in Google’s search results that you believe appears due to spam, paid links, malware, or other issues that might violate our webmaster guidelines, follow the appropriate link to report the issue. While Google does not use these reports to take direct action against violations, these reports still play a significant role in helping us understand how to improve our spam detection systems that protect our search results.

That said, here are the step-by-step instructions.

Step 1: Understand Google’s Webmaster Guidelines Thoroughly

Before you proceed to report black hat SEO spam to Google, you must clearly understand the Webmaster Guidelines

This can help you:

  • Analyse and appraise your own SEO practices
  • Know the difference between white hat and black hat SEO tactics
  • Identify the categories of black hat spam that you can report to Google

Without understanding the above differences, you shouldn’t report spam to Google or else it can also backfire. 

But once you have a clear understanding and come across the sites that use practices that can surely be classified as black hat SEO, you can proceed further as instructed in subsequent steps. 

Step 2: Make a List of Domains That Engage in Black Hat SEO

Let’s say you came across websites that are engaging in unethical SEO practices and manipulating the search engine results. They could be specific webpages or entire websites. 

Copy all these URLs in a spreadsheet and proceed to step no. 3.

Step 3: Identify the Correct Spam Reporting Form

Google has classified spam activities into four different categories and also provided different reporting forms for each category. Hence, you need to identify the correct category for reporting a particular case and submit the form accordingly.  

The categories include: 

1. Spammy Content 

Sites that use black hat tactics such as hidden text, doorway pages, cloaking, and sneaky redirects would go under the Spammy Content category. They use it to attain better positions in Google search results.

However, it deteriorates the content quality and users’ search experience. That’s why Google wants you to report spammy content using this form

According to Google’s guidelines, the links within the content should be editorially placed and its intention should only be to provide readers with relevant additional information. But many SEOs and webmasters buy and sell backlinks to exchange the PageRank advantage. 

Google calls it link schemes and they can degrade the quality of search results. 

You can report paid links spam with this form.

3. Malware

If you discover a site that seems to be infected with malware or looks like it’s spreading malicious or unwanted software, you can report it to Google using this form.

4. Phishing

If you encounter a page that has been designed to be used as a disguise for another website with the purpose of stealing users’ information, it could be phishing spam. And you can report phishing pages with this form

Step 4: Provide Details of the Black Hat Tactics Used

Once you’ve identified the correct category to report spam and you click the relevant form, you’ll be presented with the page where you can fill in the details of spammy activities there. 

For instance, you clicked the Spammy Content form. The page would look like this.

report-blackhat-seo-to-google

Although a couple of fields are optional, you should provide specific details to Google to highlight the exact issues. 

Step 5: Submit the Form

Once you’ve filled in all the details, submit the form. And you’ll see an acknowledgement screen confirming that spam has been reported successfully. 

But note that Google doesn’t provide feedback on how successful the reporting was or what actions they took. So do not wait for such a response.

Also, don’t be discouraged if you don’t see visible changes in the search results since Google may take some time to review the spam reports. And it can be days, weeks, and sometimes months before you see the difference.  

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the whys and hows of reporting the black hat SEO to google, use this reporting feature judiciously. 

Remember, it’s a tool to report spammy activities, not a weapon to use against your competitors. 

You can pretty much rank your site, attract quality visitors and convert them into paying customers — all by using white hat SEO techniques. Although it may take time, it’s the right thing to do. 

So ensure that you adhere to Google’s SEO guidelines by reviewing your SEO strategies periodically. 

At the same time, you can to audit and analyse your SEO strategy. Our SEO experts can help you achieve the desired results using white hat SEO tactics.   

 

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