Users don’t appreciate being deceived and neither does Google. Whilst you may not think deceptive SEO is being used on your website you might unintentionally be applying some black-hat SEO techniques. If left unfixed, your site could be penalised and even banned by Google.

What is Deceptive SEO?

Google doesn’t much take to dishonesty and underhand practices.  This means that trying to fool the search engine by using “black hat” SEO really won’t work.  Certain common tricks can count badly against your website, whether you have deliberately employed them or not.  Redirecting a user to an irrelevant page, using fake content or mark up or even duplicate content can all count heavily against you.  For reliable and consistently good SEO performance, honesty really is the best policy.  Google Bots are hard to fool, and know exactly where to look for dodgy and deceptive SEO. For best results, stay genuine and avoid trying to find ways to fool the system.

If you’re making pages for users, there’s a high chance that you don’t need to worry about this. However, it’s still worth knowing what Google deems deceptive to be sure. Here, we’ll go through some examples of ways people deceive their users and search engines.

Black Hat SEO #1: Redirecting a user to an irrelevant page

Anchor text should always be relevant to a link. So, if a link says “click here for cake recipes” and a user is taken to a page with no relevance to cakes, you’re inadvertently using deceptive SEO. You should never redirect a user to somewhere they’re not expecting to go. Users don’t appreciate this and again, neither does Google.

Black Hat SEO #2: Fake markup or content

Posting fake reviews or fabricating information like ratings will get you penalised by Google. Likewise, making markups in things like rich snippets with false information is another grounds for Google to discredit your site.

Black Hat SEO #3: Duplicate content and doorway pages

If you have a site that has mostly the same content on two different domain names then this is duplicate content, something Google deems a form of deception. It makes sense to have all of your content on a single site instead of numerous, this allows for a simpler user experience and means people won’t see the same content repeated across a set of search results.

Doorway pages are one of the most common forms of user deception. This is where websites have almost exactly the same content but on different domain names, with the only thing replaced being the name of the city. This is deceptive because the same base content is being shown on all sites, but the surrounding text is altered to try to rank for multiple cities. This is a technique that mostly used by affiliate marketers to send visitors to a site that will pay them for the redirect.

A better way approach driving traffic up would be to have one useful and informative site about a city you are familiar with and provide content beyond what others are offering. Google rewards actions like this because they indicate a site’s usefulness.

In short, when creating a site your main concern should be user experience. After all, people don’t value deceptive sites and so neither does Google. If you want to rank well the best way to do so is by producing honest and helpful content. In the end, these deceptive SEO workarounds will harm you instead of help you.

We can help

Deceptive SEO won’t see your site enjoy long-term success. Here at The Content Works, we’re well practiced in trusted and reliable SEO methods that deliver results naturally. Equally, if you need help producing quality content that visitors will want to engage with, we’ve got you covered for that too. To learn more about how we can help you rank sustainably, give us a call on 0207 305 55 99 or email

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