The penalties for black hat SEO far exceed any short-term gains.
You’re probably asking, “What is black hat SEO”? Black hat SEO is a set of practices that increases a website’s ranking on Google and other search engines. It’s done in such a way that violate the search engines rules and best practices. Whether you hire an SEO firm or take care of SEO yourself, you need to ensure that you stay away from actions that Google may construe as going against their search engine guidelines. This is particularly important if you’re outsourcing SEO.
Unscrupulous firms try to sneak in a few black hat SEO steps that may yield temporary surges in rankings. But the risks here far outweigh the benefits. Google is always on the lookout for websites that try to “game” the system. When a website is caught, it gets penalized and the penalties hurt. Penalties usually involve a sudden, unannounced and steep fall on the search pages. Dropping from page one to page 2o in a search result will hurt your business for sure. Beyond that, it can take months to recover, if recovery is even possible.
Here are some black hat activities that you must check and ensure that you steer clear of.
Cloaking is one of the favorite techniques that black hat SEOs use to drive organic traffic to a website and show results. Basically, the website’s code misleads the search engines and the site shows up on search for a term not related to its content. It’s like ranking for “cheap flights to Mexico” when you’re actually selling cruise tickets. Google’s search console can tell you what keywords you’re getting organic traffic from. Analytics is another tool you can use to track the source of traffic and keywords driving them.
Link exchanges, link farms, paid links, and private blog networks (PBN) that link to websites are a huge business. And with good reason, Google still uses links as a measure for judging the worth of a website. Avoid suspect links at all costs. How do you find out if your SEO agency is getting these cheap and toxic backlinks for you? Ask them to provide you with a list of probable linkers and research. Visit their sites and you’ll be able to tell if the link is set up for paid linking. Remember, a good link is one that has a clear relevance to the content on the page it’s linking to.
Unrelated Keywords in White Text
Unrelated, well searched keywords are a black hat technique when a sentence that makes no sense. The reader can’t see it but the search engines can. “Jennifer Lopez just loves driving our XYZ automobile” is an example. If you own a car dealership and you’re getting hits for “Jennifer Lopez”, you have a problem.
Rich snippets can direct useful traffic to your site even before the visitor scrolls to the next listing on the search page. Black hat SEO practitioners can ruin a perfectly good snippet by stuffing it with keywords. Worse still, they bump it up with fake reviews. Sooner or later, such reviews get flagged and when they do, penalties follow.
Clickbait is a useful technique and a legitimate one too. But as with other underhand SEO techniques, when used in excess, it backfires. The desire to earn a click has led to webmasters using outlandish images and headlines to attract attention. And worse, the connection between the headline is often very tenuous or even nonexistent. Negative feedback left by irate readers on such videos and copy can quickly undo any gains achieved through deceitful SEO.
Domain squatting, link buying, comment spam, flooding the footer with links, buying reviews, etc. are some of the other black hat SEO techniques that you should’ve already ditched by now. If you haven’t, it’s time do so now. Organic traffic through legitimate SEO, or white hat SEO, may take time but the rewards are worth the wait. If you’d like to find out how we can help you with SEO on your website, give us a call.