SEO Worst Practices (And Why You Shouldn’t Do Them)

By the Fancy Comma, LLC Team

Questionable #SEO tactics can be used to unethically boost page visibility. Did you know these shady practices could permanently damage your page’s appearance on Google? #MarketingTwitter

Do you know about the worst Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics?

The truth is that, besides Google itself, nobody knows how to make their website appear at the top of the Google search results page. Websites and people who purport to “know all the answers,” in reality, are likely to be speculating about how it all works.

It’s important to note, also, that Google is constantly updating their algorithms to provide the best and most useful search engine, so an “SEO hack” identified by a so-called “SEO expert” may not work in the long-term. In fact, such advice may even be a loophole that is discovered by Google and fixed — which could permanently damage your page’s reputation on Google.

In this article, we will discuss the worst ways to attempt to artificially boost your page’s ranking on Google.

Google has an article titled “Do you need an SEO?” in which they discuss the best and worst SEO practices. Among the worst SEO practices are:

Shadow Domains

Also known as “add-on” domains, shadow domains are fake or misleading sites developed by SEO companies to help their client. However, shadow domains do more harm than help. Shadow domains direct visitors to their client’s website using vague or unhelpful links. A shadow domain is usually not meant to be seen by humans — it exists purely for Google’s search engine crawling and indexing robots.

Shadow domain’s pages, called “phantom pages,” are often festooned with a variety of pictures and keywords relevant to the supposed topic as a way to artificially generate additional traffic. These extra webpages can often only slightly different from the name of your original website, sometimes just differing by a hyphen or some kind of capitalization. These pages typically contain keywords and phrases that can help make the page look more appealing to Google web crawlers.

Shadow domains can artificially increase the search-engine metrics of a website in this way, by fooling Google’s search engine crawlers. These misleading Shadow Domains are multi-purpose in nature as well: if the original relationship between an SEO and the website sours, the links can be redirected to the webpages of other companies or even to competitors of the original partner. 

Google has improved monitoring of and dealing with Shadow Domains. If you are caught artificially increasing the traffic of your site using Shadow Domains, this may result in the loss of your page ranking. Your website may also not appear in future search results.

Doorway Pages

These pages are similar to shadow domains in that they are inherently misleading, loaded with keywords, and are not meant to be viewed by users. Doorway pages are meant to funnel users to more relevant portions of your website. One major difference is that Doorway pages are often very similar in appearance or domain from the home website outside of some typos, hyphens, or other small differences. Like Shadow Domains, Doorway pages are used to artificially increase page rank. What separates intermediate links that are used legitimately from doorway pages is how viewable are the intermediate content. One can avoid having doorway pages by giving intermediate pages a much more unique domain name, giving it unique content, and giving it a more unique brand but in a way that it can sometimes link towards your main website.

Link Buying

A third way of manipulating SEO that is potentially unethical is to buy links. Sometimes known as link building, Google refers to link buying as “exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for writing about it including a link.” There are several factors that must be taken into consideration such as when you start buying links, the pace with which you are buying links, the quantity of links bought, and the quality of links bought. THe most risky of link buying practices are from websites that sell things like “user generated links”, “backlink packages”, “link selling services, and dropped domains. These retailers often have fairly content thin webpages and openly state that they sell links. Although buying backlinks can potentially improve SEO in the short run, generally it is a practice that is best avoided due to the potential consequences. 


SEO is important, but it’s not the be-all-end-all when it comes to your internet content.  What’s more important is being known as a trusted leader on a given topic, regardless of whether people find your site on Google or hear about it elsewhere.

Don’t fall prey to unethical SEO trickery and hacks which can potentially deflate your page’s ranking on Google.  The results can be disastrous!

This is the third post in a three-part series by Fancy Comma, LLC on Search Engines and SEO. To see our full SEO guide, click here.


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