One, two, three strikes and you’re out?

17 Rebecca D'Cunha

Are Black Hat SEO tactics penalised?

In 2015 there is no excuse for a webmaster to use black-hat SEO tactics as we have been told time and again by Google that they will land you with a manual penalty. However, there are those that seem to ignore Google’s warnings and continually use black-hat techniques to get their websites to the top of the SERPs before swiftly being taken down and having to submit a reconsideration request (if, for example, they have been buying links).

This is why it is so frustrating for those working in the digital industry when we see or hear of websites that constantly flout the rules yet still manage to claw their way back to the top of Google’s SERPs time and time again. Even though they may be penalised for their actions, once the penalty is lifted they carry on in the same way, ultimately playing an ongoing game of cat and mouse with Google.

In the future: One, two, three strikes and you’re out?

Well, not any more. In an anonymous blog post, Google recently announced that websites that constantly break the rules and are issued with manual penalties will soon see themselves facing “further action”. At the time of writing it has not been confirmed what this “further action” will be, however it could go so far as having a domain banned from Google’s SERPs for a certain period of time.

In the blog post Google’s Search Quality Team wrote: “Some sites violate the Webmaster Guidelines repeatedly after successfully going through the reconsideration process. For example, a webmaster who received a Manual Action notification based on an unnatural link to another site may nofollow the link, submit a reconsideration request, then, after successfully being reconsidered, delete the nofollow for the link.

“Such repeated violations may make a successful reconsideration process more difficult to achieve. Especially when the repeated violation is done with a clear intention to spam, further action may be taken on the site.”

Hopefully, this announcement will make webmasters think twice about employing black-hat techniques, especially if they have previously been issued with a manual penalty. However the cynic in me wonders how Google will implement these stricter rules, and whether those that are adamant on breaking the rules will find a way around them.

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