We all want our content to be ranked as high as possible in Google. But, did you know you can rank higher by cheating? Although, like any rule abiding tactic, you are then vulnerable for punishment. One particular and trendy tactic among those seeking fast results and looking for shortcuts is called black hat SEO.
In this article, I will be covering:
- what is black hat SEO
- which are the tactics and techniques used
- should you report if someone is using them
- how can black hat affect you and your website
It is extremely important for you to understand and realize that implanting black hat SEO tactics can get your site banned from search engines. This article does not promote using black hat SEO.
What Is Black Hat SEO
Black hat SEO is a term that refers to a set of actions which are used to increase a site or page’s rank in the search engines through the means that violate the search engines term of service.
The black hat term originated from Western movies to separate the bad guys from the good guys, who wore the white hats. Recently, it is used to describe computer hacks or programmers who are creating viruses or those who are performing unethical actions with computers.
Even though using these tactics can increase a page ranking, they are disapproved and unethical, and the end result is the penalty from the search engines, commonly the site will get banned from the SERP (search engine result page) and affiliate sites.
Instead of earning the right to rank on search engines, black hat uses shady tactics to get you there. Continues usage of black hat SEO technique will damage your presence in the search engines rather than improve it, and it will only hurt your business in the long run.
Black Hat SEO goes against the guidelines set by search engines and manipulates them to gain higher rankings. Once found out, it can lead to being completely wiped out from SERP or gain a penalty of a lower position.
On the opposite, white hat SEO is a much better method of doing search engine optimization. It is an ethical approach that follows the rules, terms, and guidelines set out by search engines. White Hat SEO consists of creating quality content and better overall user experience for your visitors.
Tactics and Techniques Used
Appearing in the search results is vital and crucial for your business and business growth, but there is a right way and a wrong way of doing search engine optimization. The black Hat SEO is definitely a wrong way. With it, you are trying to play out algorithms, rather than offering value for the user.
There are plenty of things which can get you banned from the SERP. Some of them are:
- Keyword stuffing
- Hidden text
- Poor quality content
- Buying links
- Blog comment spam
- Link Farms
The whole purpose of the search engines is to give them the best result when someone performs a search. It means the end-user should get a result they asked and not some spam website.
Are you concerned you may end up using some black hat tactics? If so, it is always beneficial to ask yourself: “Is this what I am doing adding value to my readers, or am I just doing this for the search engines to see?” This should test your strategy.
If no value is added for the users, but the rankings are likely to increase, then your decisions are highly likely to be associated with black hat tactics.
Let’s analyze some tactics.
Keyword stuffing – refers to the practice of filling your content with irrelevant keywords in an attempt to manipulate your page ranking in the SERP; repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural. Adding multiple variations of keywords where they add no value to content creates a bad user experience.
One good example would be: “We sell kitchen knives. Kitchen knives are our business. If you want to get the best kitchen knives, get in touch with our marketing consultant, and they will give you details about kitchen knives. After it, you can decide which kitchen knives are best for your kitchen knifes collection.”
I have read a good joke about keyword stuffing: “An SEO copywriter walks into a bar, grill, pub, public house, Irish, bartender, drinks, beer, wine, liquor…”
This is a perfect example of the keyword stuffing. The words are similar to each other, but they add no value to the content and are not even meaningful sentence.
Keyword research is a good practice to find out what people are looking form but overusing these keywords in your content is not good. Focus on creating useful content that focuses on the topic, rather than stuffing it with irrelevant keywords.
Cloaking – this technique involves showing one piece of content to the users, and a different piece to search engines. This way, websites that use this method will rank for terms irrelevant to their content and avoiding search engine bot finding out what exactly they are doing.
Cloaking should not be confused with optimizing your content for different groups of users. For example, change the size of your website to fit for mobile users (aka responsive website) or change the language of a page based on the country someone is visiting from. These things are acceptable. As long as you aren’t just changing the content that appears for the search engines.
Redirects – redirect is when a user clicks on a link, but instead to the desired location, you send him to a different destination. So, for example, if I want to show you how to make money online, I would put a link, but it would not take you to the page where it is explained how to make money online. Instead, somewhere else, often not related to the topic at all.
This is often done to boost a page position in search results by redirecting a highly authoritative page with lots of backlinks into some irrelevant page.
Redirects may also include redirecting a search engine crawler to one page an all other users to another page.
Hidden text – or also known as invisible keywords. Another prohibited practice and a sneaky way to rank for lots of keywords. Websites that practice this black hat SEO technique does this by making the text the same color as the page background, in most cases, white color.
This means the page will appear in search results for those keywords even if there is no visible content about them on the page. So when a user chooses result thinking it will provide him the information he is searching for, nothing will be found regarding that topic since those keywords are blended in with the background.
Poor quality content – a content that is of no value to the user. This includes content scraped from another website by a bot or a person.
Before 2011 Google wasn’t good at recognizing content copied from other websites, so there was a lot of duplicate content. But the Panda update resolved this problem. Sites with duplicate content took a drop in rankings, and since then, Google has become much better at eliminating duplicate or poor quality content.
Writing quality content is a crucial part of your website. Not only you will avoid penalties from SERP, but it will also only benefit your website as you will build trust with your audience and build out your brand.
Buying links – buying or selling links. Either is strictly forbidden, and it will end up in bad from SERP. You should avoid paying any site to link to your content. Google will penalize both buyer and seller fo links once this practice is detected.
If you write quality, original content, there is no need for you to buy links for your site. They will come naturally as people will find your content unique and of value, hence they will want to link to you.
Blog comment spam – this technique involves including links to your website from comments. It is not as often anymore because Google updated algorithm not to count links in bloc comments. By default, most blogs make links in blog comments as “nofollow”. This means search engines will not follow the link and link will not give any value to your post.
Link farms – as a name suggest, a link farm is a website with only one purpose: link building. Each website links to a site they want to rank. One part of ranking a site is determining how many links are pointing to that particular page (aka backlink). Black hat SEO uses this to pump the number of backlinks to a particular site.
Google can easily detect link farms, and using them should, naturally, be avoided. You should instead build quality content, which will make you backlinks gradually over time.
Should You Report Black Hat SEO
Straight and simple: yes, you should. Google is bringing relevant results for every search that user makes. And as a site manager and business owner, it is your responsibility to make your content straightforward and easy to understand by users and search engines.
By trying to deceive web crawler with various technique, black hat SEO users compromise the quality of results and degrade the search experience for everyone.
If they are doing something wrong, they deserve to get penalized. At the bottom line, they cost you revenue because they use unethical and/or forbidden tactics.
Google thinks it is a bad thing, so why shouldn’t you? In fact, there is even a form to fill if you come across a site that you suspect is using a shady method. But, use this with a tool with discretion. Falsely reporting other people site can be considered black hat SEO.
Several possible scenarios can develop, but two are most likely:
- In especially egregious cases, Google will remove such sites from the index immediately, so they don’t show up in the search results at all.
- Google will collect and use the data from each spam report to improve site ranking and filtering algorithms, which should, over time, increase the quality of the results.
It is worth to mention also that some people believe Google checks the site of the person who filed the report as well. But you shouldn’t be worried because you are clean anyway, right?
How Does Black Hat SEO Affect You
Black hat SEO tactics can get your website banned from Google and other search engines. There may be some short-term success while using these shady tactics through increasing traffic to your site, but Google penalties WILL HAVE devastating effects on your rankings and traffic once these tactics are revealed.
Getting a penalty from the search engines will cause your website to drop down in SERP or be deleted. Can you really afford to be de-indexed while there are millions of users searching Google every day?
With each update, search engines are getting better at spotting the black hat tactics. Getting caught for it is unavoidable. Yes, you may see some short-term gains and benefits, but in the long run, you are digging a grave for your business.
Is Black Hat SEO For You
It depends. Are you trying to build a long-lasting lucrative business?
If your answer is yes, then you should avoid any black hat SEO technique involved at all cost. You should instead focus on writing original and simple posts for your audience and provide them with useful information.
Remember, you write for the readers, not for the search engines. Once you get that as your primary focus, the ranking will come natural and search engines WILL give you better and better rankings. Of course, that happens if your content has been optimized for the SEO.
But, what if there is a technique you can’t categorize as a black hat SEO? But you also know it is not strictly by the rule to do it? Then it is a so-called gray hat SEO. And while they are not against search engines prohibited practice, they are still a little bit unethical and could be banned in the near future.
Gray hat SEO is closer to the black hat than a white hat. These tactics are not listed in webmasters guidelines as prohibited. However, keep in mind than many gray hat tactics have become black hat over time. So once search engines find them, they will be listed as such.
Would you want to be afraid of your business at that time? Would you want to go over every single post where you implanted this technique just to remove it quickly? Wouldn’t just be better to use white hat SEO from the beginning and not to worry about any future update that Google may throw?
Threat the users and search engines the same way. Don’t do your next search, “How to get rid of a Google penalty?” If you don’t know if something is a black hat or not, it probably is.
A white hat strategy is a much better approach to SEO. In the long run, it will make your business run on auto-pilot, without the fear of crushing to the cliff or causing havoc for your business.
If you want to learn how to apply white hat tactics to your website properly and create a lucrative business with it, let me introduce you to a platform that I love to use. It is free to use and have great training videos that will guide you step by step toward making money online.
You can learn about it here.
Until the next time, I wish you all the best!