Simple and easy – terms not usually heard when discussing search engine optimization (SEO). And if you do hear these words used by someone trying to “sell you” SEO services, you’ll want to double-check to see if they’re actually trying to sell you black hat SEO techniques.
Black hat SEO is any practice that goes against search engine rules and guidelines to try and “trick” or manipulate search engine algorithms into ranking your pages or sites higher.
While working hard and utilizing ethical SEO techniques (also known as white hat SEO) to have your site rank high on search engines such as Google is a vital part of marketing strategy, black hat SEO practices can create long-term negative effects for your website. While these techniques may net short-term gains, they can often lead to steep penalties if caught by intelligent search engine bots, which can be detrimental to a small or local business’s marketing efforts. You may see some of your pages skyrocket to the top of page 1, but then fall flat once the algorithms catch on.
There are many black hat SEO techniques out in the wilds of the internet. In this post, we’ll cover 4 of the most popular black hat SEO techniques that scammers use to try and fool search engines, and why you should avoid them at all costs.
Backlinks are valuable assets and something to strive for by creating high-quality, informative content on your website.
When other trustworthy and authoritative sites link to your content, search engines take notice and are more likely to rank your site in search results. Honest guest-posting, creating relevant content while plugging in a link to your site, is another great way to increase your backlinks.
However, paying for backlinks is a big no-no, especially in Google’s rule book. Many black hat SEO marketers and websites will try to sell or exchange content links from their website, which is usually poorly written, non-informative, and rarely relevant to your link’s content.
Once upon a time, this technique may have worked, but search engines are now quite savvy to the tricks of black hat SEO content marketers and will penalize you in the rankings if you take part.
Keywords are essentially the lifeblood of quality search engine optimization. One of the simplest ways to enhance your SEO right now is to perform keyword research regarding your content topic and to elegantly work in those words and phrases into your blogs or web copy. Techniques like this help tell search engines that your content is relevant and of quality to their users.
“Keyword stuffing,” as Google puts it, “refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results.”
In other words, Don’t go overboard. Content must always be relevant and informative to the user. Suppose you stuff as many keywords into your content as possible, often to the point of incoherency; in that case, search engines can easily recognize this blatantly scammy technique, and it will reflect in the SERPs.
Local businesses should take careful consideration not to take part in keyword stuffing accidentally. While creating city-specific web pages with informative and relevant content can enhance local SEO, stuffing large text blocks filled with city names will get you noticed by the search engine police (Hint: that isn’t good).
You’ve read the phrase “informative and relevant content” a few times within this blog, and honestly, you’re going to read it often when it comes to the topic of SEO content marketing.
Creating high-quality content that is of value to the reader or user is an essential piece of the always evolving SEO puzzle. Search engines are smart, programmed to crawl hundreds of thousands of websites, seeking out information-rich content to present to their users on the first few result pages. Developing poorly written, keyword-stuffed, and duplicate content with little-to-no educational value or relevancy is an almost instant red-flag for search engine crawlers. If you fear you’ve received duplicate content, simply copy and paste a couple sentences into a search engine and see if other pages show up with identical copy.
While there may have been a time when duplicating content with little updates or even directly lifting content from other sites may have fooled search engine bots, those times have passed. Search engines quickly recognize low content quality as black hat SEO.
As put by Search Engine Land’s SEO Guide, “always keep in mind that you’re writing for users first and that search engines are getting much better at understanding natural language.”
Taking the time to create consistently informative content may take a few months or up to a year to show it’s effectiveness on SERPs. But, along the way, you’ll be ethically building a loyal user-base by promoting long-term engagement and success.
According to Google, “cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content or URLs to human users and search engines.”
Essentially, black hat SEO marketers try to fool search engines into reading text or keywords that have little or nothing to do with the content topic presented. The technique (typically) draws search users into a scam page by attempting to rank for content irrelevant to the searched query.
For example, if you search Google for best running shoes and accidentally end up on a site where the content is trying to sell you non-FDA approved diet supplements through page-stuffed images or flash, you have fallen victim to a cloaked website.
Google and other search engines have cracked down on this method hard, even going as far as wiping a site entirely from Google index. Unfortunately, cloaking is challenging to detect, becoming a favorite technique of hackers to hide their activities on your site.
It’s crucial that you monitor your website’s traffic and analytic data to detect any suspicious activity or random drops in engagement. These can be signs that your site is hacked and using cloaking black hat SEO techniques.
Proper and ethical white hat search engine optimization takes an enormous amount of work and dedication.
Trust us, we get it.
But you’ll want to make sure that you and your business do this work and take proper care to create reliable SEO content that informs and enlightens users.
With patience, consistency, and a willingness to learn this ever-evolving and changing marketing technique, white hat search engine optimization will help your website build trust and loyal followers over time. These qualities will benefit your site in the long run, as you’ll allow search engines to recognize your business as an authoritative and trustworthy source of information.