SEO Black-hat Methods from Which to Stay Away

SEO Black-hat Methods from Which to Stay Away

For many, SEO is a lawless territory where some search engine optimization experts tell you it’s okay to improve rankings using any means, including the use of questionable practices, usually referred to as black-hat SEO.

While you may believe these so-called experts, search engines do police the methods that people use to promote websites. If they find out that you have used tactics that don’t follow their guidelines, your site could get penalized or banned from the SERPs altogether. For the sake of your best practices, marketing, and website, you want to avoid getting banned and penalized at all costs.

What Is It?

Primarily, black-hat SEO involves practices that improve website and page rankings by doing something that violates the terms of service of the search engine. These techniques can work in the short term, but using them long-term can have serious consequences. Plus, many search engines and other business owners consider black-hat techniques to be unethical.

However, you do have techniques available to you that improve SEO without violating the search engines guidelines. As long as the strategies you choose are considered appropriate, it is acceptable to use these strategies and encouraged. Any tactics that follow the terms of service for the search engine are called white-hat SEO.

Why Is it Bad?

Black-hat SEO is usually utilized to boost pages that don’t have value to the readers. Common black-hat techniques impress the search engine’s robots but don’t provide relevant or useful content to human readers. Along with such, search engines fight such tactics because the goal of the search engine is to provide people with helpful content.

Utilizing black-hat SEO techniques doesn’t mean your content is not relevant; it just means you’re breaking the rules and cheating. Of course, many people do it for years without getting caught, but search engines are cottoning on to these tricks, which can cause your website to get in trouble. In most cases, people who provide useful content to users do not have to resort to unethical techniques.

Black-hat Tactics to Avoid

The tactics listed here can get your website banned or penalized. While some techniques are highly technical and aren’t likely to be used by the average website creator, you should also ensure that hired help do not use these tricks.

Keyword Stuffing

You’ve heard of it before because it’s a common black-hat technique for SEO. You have a list of keywords that potential clients are likely to search for, so your next step is naturally to add the keywords in as much as possible. Most people think that the more they include these keywords, the higher they will rank on Google, and clients will be able to find you easily.

While that has worked in the past, the content must be natural and read easily. Too many keywords can make it challenging for people to understand it, which means they won’t find the information helpful and aren’t likely to utilize your services or products.

It is highly annoying when you’re faced with the same keyword many times; readers become confused or irritated and are likely to abandon the page. The style sounds robotic, and the content has no flow, which hurts credibility. Plus, the search engine is likely to catch the keyword stuffing, which hurts your ranking.

Hidden/Invisible Text

Hidden text is anything that your search engine views but the readers can’t. Usually, black-hat techniques use hidden text to include irrelevant or extra keywords to boost the rankings for that page across other search terms. You can find various methods of adding hidden text that goes against guidelines. Options can include making the text white while on a white background, changing the font size to zero, hiding links by attaching it to a character (such as a period), or using CSS to shift the text off-screen.

However, that being said, there are times when it is okay to use hidden text, such as for accessibility purposes.

Link Exchange/Buying

Google uses inbound links to rank your page. If more people link to your page, your content must be more relevant. However, the inbound links have to be natural. You can purchase links to your web pages, but the search engine does take the context of these links into consideration. Therefore, if the link source is irrelevant to the site, it can negatively impact your SEO, which means link buying isn’t the best strategy.

Social Networking Scams

While it is okay to post links to your social media page and it’s not a black-hat technique, it isn’t appropriate to send links in messages and comments to people if it doesn’t have relevant information attached. In a sense, you are spamming people because you’re sending them links to your website or pages that they might not want, and you could get penalized or removed by the search engine because of it.