“Fred” and the dangers of Black Hat SEO

Did they, or didn’t they?

In case you haven’t read, in the last couple of weeks, it’s assumed that Google released another major search engine algorithm update unimaginably named “Fred’. There are some geek jokes around the name Fred, but supposedly Fred’s aim was to down rank those websites that bought links, or are linked to by dubious sites.

Whether Fred is real, or not the message is clear- Fred highlights the dangers of Black Hat SEO. Sooner or later you will be penalized for having questionable backlinks.

What does this mean?

One of the major off-site SEO activities to improve a website’s credibility is increasing back links. The more credible back links you have (say from Wikipedia or legitimate news sites), the greater you’ll rank; all other things being equal.

Many budget/unscrupulous SEO Agencies try to take shortcuts to increase your ranking by adding thousands of farmed links from web directories in India, Pakistan, Russia and other countries. These directories often advertise vice goods/services and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that they’re not genuine backlinks related to your business.

What to do if I’ve got dodgy back links to my site?

Contact the webmaster
In the first instance, contact the directory and ask nicely for them to remove the link. Some webmasters might not reply or ask for a fee to remove the links. Don’t pay a fee, but follow-up after a week or two for removal.

Remove your affected pages
Remove the bad linked/low ranked pages with a 404 link to disavow the target pages. This is not ideal, and is a somewhat extreme measure, only to be actioned if there’s an obvious down ranking of those pages.

Lesson learned?

There are no shortcuts to ranking well. SEO is a slow process, and there are real dangers of Black Hat SEO. Shortcuts hurt too much in the long term and don’t offset the benefits in the short term.

Produce good content and you’ll organically grow your back links. Link building is also useful, just make sure the backlinks make sense and are genuine.

At Evolocity, we only use and recommend “White Hat” techniques to SEO. Contact us to find out more about our services.


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