Best PracticesDealership Marketing

Uncovered More Black Hat SEO….

Recently my team and I uncovered a dirty secret with automotive websites. One of our clients using an unnamed website company had become victims of Black Hat SEO tactics. Our client’s website had over 1000 pages of cloned content that was added by the website company. Content cloning is done by using a script or program to automatically generate and modify website content.

There was an article for each and every vehicle sold in the U.S. The only difference between the content in the article was the vehicle name. Everything else was identical.
Black-Hat-Articles-1024x672.png

When we inquired about this tactic, we were told by the Director of Client Relations that, “the articles are necessary to [the unarmed clients] SEO.”
What is Black Hat SEO?

Blackhat SEO is tactics is designed to increase website traffic that strictly goes against Google’s guidelines. Examples of black hat SEO consist of:

  • Buying backlinks
  • Cloaking
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Duplicating our cloning content

How does Black Hat SEO affect my site?
Black hat SEO can affect your sight in numerous ways such as:

  • Reduced organic traffic
  • Manual penalties set by Google
  • De-indexing your website (very rare)

In this particular case, the site did not receive a manual penalty from Google. Instead, Google refuses to index any of the pages as the pages contain clone content which Google views as Spammy content.

Non-Indexed-1200x763.png

To make it worse, this Black Hat cloning tactic is being used across each one of the unnamed website company’s sites. This means not only is the content cloned but it duplicated across hundreds of other Automotive websites.

Spammy content is low-quality content that is overly stuffed with keywords, and written for the sole purpose of ranking in search results. If caught by Google, Spammy content, actually works against its intended purpose as seen in the screenshot above. As a result, this type of consent negatively affects domain authority. Two weeks after removing the content we saw the domain authority increased by 2 points.

Cloned-Content.png

How do I find if my dealership has been affected?
Finding Black Hat SEO can be tricky. The unnamed website company has a 7-second crawl delay and used Cloudflare to block all site audits. We requested to have Cloudflare and the crawl delay removed but our request was denied. This was most likely to prevent us from finding the thousands of articles hidden within the site. To find out if you have been a victim of black hat SEO tactics, you must manually check your site.

reverson

Jr. Refresher
Mar 21, 2012
297
326
93
First Name
Ryan
Recently my team and I uncovered a dirty secret with automotive websites. One of our clients using an unnamed website company had become victims of Black Hat SEO tactics. Our client’s website had over 1000 pages of cloned content that was added by the website company. Content cloning is done by using a script or program to automatically generate and modify website content.

There was an article for each and every vehicle sold in the U.S. The only difference between the content in the article was the vehicle name. Everything else was identical.
View attachment 4512

When we inquired about this tactic, we were told by the Director of Client Relations that, “the articles are necessary to [the unarmed clients] SEO.”
What is Black Hat SEO?

Blackhat SEO is tactics is designed to increase website traffic that strictly goes against Google’s guidelines. Examples of black hat SEO consist of:
  • Buying backlinks
  • Cloaking
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Duplicating our cloning content
How does Black Hat SEO affect my site?
Black hat SEO can affect your sight in numerous ways such as:
  • Reduced organic traffic
  • Manual penalties set by Google
  • De-indexing your website (very rare)
In this particular case, the site did not receive a manual penalty from Google. Instead, Google refuses to index any of the pages as the pages contain clone content which Google views as Spammy content.


To make it worse, this Black Hat cloning tactic is being used across each one of the unnamed website company’s sites. This means not only is the content cloned but it duplicated across hundreds of other Automotive websites.

Spammy content is low-quality content that is overly stuffed with keywords, and written for the sole purpose of ranking in search results. If caught by Google, Spammy content, actually works against its intended purpose as seen in the screenshot above. As a result, this type of consent negatively affects domain authority. Two weeks after removing the content we saw the domain authority increased by 2 points.

How do I find if my dealership has been affected?
Finding Black Hat SEO can be tricky. The unnamed website company has a 7-second crawl delay and used Cloudflare to block all site audits. We requested to have Cloudflare and the crawl delay removed but our request was denied. This was most likely to prevent us from finding the thousands of articles hidden within the site. To find out if you have been a victim of black hat SEO tactics, you must manually check your site.
@yagoparamo
 
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TabFlythe

Getting Refreshed
Apr 12, 2019
47
39
18
First Name
Tabitha
New year's resolution: say no to duplicate content!

Search engines are going to be focusing more on the INTENT of content rather than keywords for rankability, and it's way past time to start digging into your active SEO strategy and consider if it is helping or hurting the digital standing of your dealership. Providing content that is specific to your target market and highlighting information that your customer is searching for is how you will rank.

Duplicate content DOES NOTHING.
 

reverson

Jr. Refresher
Mar 21, 2012
297
326
93
First Name
Ryan
Can we also talk about how bad of a user experience it is to have 100+ links in your navigation submenus?

This is another outdated SEO tactic designed to trick Google that these pages have more weight since they are in the navigation menu and thus internally linked to thousands of times.

dep menu.JPG
 
Last edited:

Steve Stauning

Jr. Refresher
Mar 15, 2012
234
168
43
First Name
Steve
My advice to clients has never changed: NEVER BUY SEO FROM YOUR WEBSITE PROVIDER!!!

First, what did they tell you when they sold you your site? Was it something like "We provide the most search-friendly websites out of the box"??? Then, why are they now asking for $2,500 per month for their super-duper-premium SEO?

Second, you cannot serve multiple masters when it comes to real SEO. If your website provider is also providing SEO to 32 other sites in your market, how can they all be optimized for the important keywords?

Finally, the VAST MAJORITY of the premium "SEO" they do provide is absolute garbage (like the examples already provided on this string). Yes, MOST independent SEO companies also provide absolute garbage optimization, as well. The difference? I've still never seen good, honest, SEO from a website provider that was also cost-effective. I have seen this provided by a couple of independents.

Oh, and not every dealer even needs to pay for SEO. Google is pretty smart and most every dealer site built today is relatively search-friendly.

Queue the angry website companies to blast me here. (There's a reason they don't include me on their Christmas Gift Basket lists.) (BTW, I'm always happy to hop on a webinar with any website provider who wants to show me their premium SEO and why it's worth paying extra for.)
 
Aug 30, 2019
6
0
1
First Name
Collin
Unfortunately, this is all too common on the automotive platforms out there. Word spinning and private network link building died years ago, but the platforms still collect their check each month and even SELL these as upgrades to dealers to this very day. :itsok:
 

Marc Lavoie

Refresher
Jan 3, 2019
136
79
28
First Name
Marc
My advice to clients has never changed: NEVER BUY SEO FROM YOUR WEBSITE PROVIDER!!!

First, what did they tell you when they sold you your site? Was it something like "We provide the most search-friendly websites out of the box"??? Then, why are they now asking for $2,500 per month for their super-duper-premium SEO?

Second, you cannot serve multiple masters when it comes to real SEO. If your website provider is also providing SEO to 32 other sites in your market, how can they all be optimized for the important keywords?

Finally, the VAST MAJORITY of the premium "SEO" they do provide is absolute garbage (like the examples already provided on this string). Yes, MOST independent SEO companies also provide absolute garbage optimization, as well. The difference? I've still never seen good, honest, SEO from a website provider that was also cost-effective. I have seen this provided by a couple of independents.

Oh, and not every dealer even needs to pay for SEO. Google is pretty smart and most every dealer site built today is relatively search-friendly.

Queue the angry website companies to blast me here. (There's a reason they don't include me on their Christmas Gift Basket lists.) (BTW, I'm always happy to hop on a webinar with any website provider who wants to show me their premium SEO and why it's worth paying extra for.)
Respectfully, I don't agree with the Never Buy SEO from Website Provider part.

Some can do targeted content that can help. The best are those who are including best practices as a part of their package while not selling SEO services on top of it. I believe it's the right way to do it, even if you seem to be leaving money on the table.

On the other hand, we could also say Never Buy SEO from SEO only providers because to this day, I think it's really hard to show a lift as strong as changing website providers from a sub-par to a high-end solution.

(msg me if you need names!)
 

craigh

Super Moderator
May 19, 2011
1,669
1,089
114
First Name
Craig
In 2020, I would argue that almost all of SEO is simply best practices.
Google has become so good that the best way to succeed is to just play it smart - make content your visitors actually want to read and put it on your site.
If you want to make vehicle pages, put real content and unique images on them.

Website providers shouldn't be the ones doing SEO, but that doesn't mean they can't. We used to offer SEO packages that were quite effective (back when I felt that there were techniques that could genuinely move the needle in 90 days), but now we just audit the sites and provide suggestions to the client without it being an "SEO package". Their success is ultimately our success, so it would make no sense to help one succeed over another.

In my experience working with Automotive SEO vendors, 100% of them were either keyword stuffing, making useless blog content or stuffing backlinks to our site. We tracked everything in https://www.gshiftlabs.com and had to call them out on their seedy forum spam and offsite garbage that they didn't even tell the dealer they were doing.
 
Apr 3, 2019
2
1
1
First Name
Mary-Grace
Oh boy, so what we’re seeing here are known as "doorway pages" — and as many have already pointed out — they are a big no-no when it comes to SEO.

The unfortunate reality is that there are still SEO providers (in all verticals) who use these kind of tactics. Clearly they’re meant to try to trick Google’s algorithm as opposed to offer real value to real people.

Every so often we take on a new SEO client who had a previous provider implement doorway pages on their DI website. When we discover their existence, we do a few things — (aside from scream in frustration ;) )
  • We call the dealer to explain what we found, why it’s bad and why it’s important to remedy the situation before moving on to further SEO efforts.
  • We perform an indexation and traffic audit of the doorway pages to see how much (if any) traffic they're bringing to the site and the value of that traffic.
  • We provide customized recommendations about taking down the bloat pages, implementing redirects, and fully re-writing any of the pages that were bringing in decent traffic and that make sense for the dealer to be custom and actually useful to users.
I’m not going to lie, it's a MASSIVE undertaking, and even though it wasn’t our doing, we make it our responsibility to get it cleaned up for these clients so we can have a clean, solid foundation moving forward.

Believe it or not, there are SEO providers in this space who do work tirelessly to bring real value to their clients. That’s what we do at DI and I’d be happy to jump on a call with anyone — vendor, consultant or dealer — to explain what makes us different. Not to sell you something, but to give you hope that there is indeed at least one straight up partner in the automotive SEO realm.

Hope that helps :) I’m always down to talk SEO, so feel free to shoot me a message if you want to get nerdy with it. Thanks!
 
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