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Black Hat SEO (Part 2): Off Page SEO Myths That Can Hurt Your Rankings

Jason Roy

In The Dark Side of SEO Part I, we talked about Black Hat SEO methods that could damage the credibility of your online business. This article will debunk some of the myths about off-page SEO in strategies that are meant to build your page rank and generate traffic to your site. Knowing these myths will help you to avoid becoming lost in the crowd of sites that are either generating no results for their owners or attracting a lot of unqualified traffic from visitors who end up leaving the site within seconds.

Off-Page SEO and Why it is Important

Off-page SEO consists of methods that demonstrate to the search engines that your site is considered to be relevant and valuable by others within the internet community. For example, links from other sites leading to your site are meant to demonstrate that the owners of those sites consider your site to add value to theirs in some way. However, in attempts to demonstrate this kind of popularity to the search engines, many site owners have abused the practice of link building and done more harm than good in building their credibility and page rank.

Link Building Myth #1: It’s a Numbers Game

One of the most popular myths about link building is that it is a numbers game. This myth is based on the belief that if it’s all about popularity then you need to get as many “votes” as possible. This line of thinking is about as wise as trying to win a race for political office by submitting votes for yourself from dead people. You may end up with a lot of results, but if anyone finds out what you are up to your credibility is shot.

In the same way, it’s important to remember that in regard to popularity on the internet, quality and relevance are key. For instance, if you have a personal development site and you are building backlinks with sites about casinos, free phone cards, and Viagra it’s likely that those links are not going to be very valuable to you.

The first reason for this is that if it generates any traffic to your site, the visitors are not likely to stay for long. This is going to hurt your bounce rate, conversions, and on-site behaviors which will have a negative impact on your value with the search engines.

(For more information on how this can damage your page rank see our articles on the Google Patent Application)

Link Building Myth #2: All that Matters is Getting the Link

Another popular link-building myth is that all you need to do is get the link and you have a popularity vote. This is what causes people to post a comment on another person’s blog which is obviously nothing more than an attempt to build a backlink.

Building links simply for the sake of building links has many downfalls. The first one is that if the owner of the site has to approve the comment and recognizes it as a mere attempt to build a link, they are going to delete your comment or mark it as spam. As a result, you’ll waste a lot of time building links that end up being deleted. The other downfall is that it ruins the credibility of your website, as multiple site owners label you as another spammer.

Link Building Myth #3: The Bait and Switch Redirect

Another link-building strategy that can damage your reputation is the use of JavaScript redirects. When Google indexes a page that has JavaScript on it, it can’t follow or index links hidden within JavaScript. Therefore, a Common Black Hat SEO strategy is to build a backlink to a page that is optimized for the search engines while embedding a link via JavaScript which redirects the visitor to another page.

This way, the site owner can pretend that they are building a relevant connection while providing an alternative page to the visitors. The problem with this approach is twofold: first, the desired link will be inaccessible to visitors which do not have JavaScript enabled. Second, if a visitor clicks on your page they will likely hit the back button and again hurt your bounce rate and conversion rate.

Your Best Line of Defense: Building Links With a Purpose

The best way to make sure that the links which you are building to your site are going to be valuable is to have a purpose other than simply building links. The best purpose to have in mind is to generate qualified traffic to your site. This means that if you are building a link that you are going to it in a place where your target audience can be found and in such a manner that they will get something valuable from following that link.

This will ensure that your links are relevant to the content of your site, that they are built at a natural pace, and that they will generate traffic which will aid in improving your bounce rate and even get you valuable conversions. If you spend a lot of time posting links that are not going to bring you qualified traffic which results in sales, you’ve just thrown a whole lot of time/money out the window.

However, if you build links by posting valuable content in places where your target audience hangs out and if that content provides a link to a place on your site where they can receive something else of value, you can rest assured that you are building the value of your site. 

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