If you have your very own online business then you will be familiar with the comments and emails from companies promising that they can get your site enormous amounts of traffic and to the top of Google in only a few weeks. These companies are probably practising black hat SEO techniques.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Think back to old Western movies, and you may remember that the good guys wore white Stetsons whereas the baddies wore black ones. This is a simple way of differentiating good from bad, and has been adopted in the world of SEO – white hat = ethical SEO and black hat = unethical SEO.
Black hat SEO is a term generally used to describe the breaching of a search engine’s terms of service and the use of shortcuts in order to increase a page’s rank in a short period of time.
Typical Black Hat SEO Techniques
There are a number of ‘quick win’ techniques that black hat SEO specialists use. These include:
Keyword Stuffing – This is the overuse of certain ‘key’ words to raise awareness of a page and rank highly when such terms are searched for.
Hidden or Invisible Content – This is a way of keyword stuffing a page without the words being noticed by the naked eye. For example, colouring the font so it blends into the background and is completely unnoticeable. Keywords can even be hidden within comment tags.
Link Farming – Link farming is based on the idea of exchanging links with other sites in order to boost the number of inbounding links and improve your SERP.
These are usually forums or directories, with this aim as the sole purpose. As a result search engines think your site is more popular than it actually is.
Doorway Pages – Also known as ‘bridge’, ‘entry’, ‘gateway’, ‘jump’ and ‘portal’ pages, are spammed with certain words or phrases in order to rank with search engines. These pages then funnel traffic to a main site page, which reaps the benefits.
Why Should Black Hat Techniques be Avoided?
Black hat SEO isn’t a scam, it is however unethical, and in some instances illegal. As a result, if Google detects such techniques have been used on your site there can be some serious repercussions.
Once upon a time the more backlinks you had the better, but as more and more quickly figured out how to abuse the algorithm, Google altered the way they qualified pages to rank and many sites were punished. Sites that use black hat techniques continue to be smacked by Google.
Firstly, a site will lose its top spot and get moved to the bottom of the last results page. There is then a penalty of a fine, and then the website may be suspended or even permanently banned. And once a site is banned it can never be brought back to life.
So the risks are high. Not only will a site using these techniques look suspicious and drive away customers, but it can effectively shut down your business. Would you take the risk?
So Why do People Use Them?
A lot of small business owners fall for the trap of a black hat agency as it is usually cheaper than white hat. White hat techniques focus on analytics, data and website content, it therefore takes more time and more money.
The decision of whether it is worth the risk comes down to you. Black hat techniques can bring you some short term success, but this increase in traffic is short-lived. Google is constantly developing ways to tackle these black hat techniques so if you are looking to have longevity in your online business, black hat may not be the tactic for you.
Although black hat SEO is effectively seen as the bad guy in the world of digital marketing, some good does come of its actions. It keeps the search engines on their toes, requiring them to constantly develop and adapt their technology to improve their service. And with these changes, the good guys (white hat SEOs), reap the benefits.
Wonderful White Hat SEO
Black hat SEO may not have the best effect on your online presence, so it may be a good idea to look into an ethical SEO digital marketing agency. We’d happily recommend one – US!