Nowadays, Search Engine Optimization or SEO for short is more important than ever before so it’s no surprise that some people developed unethical techniques in order to manipulate the rank of their website in search engines. These techniques are often called Black Hat SEO techniques. Even though by using some of these Black Hat methods you can boot you rating short term, in the long run, you will suffer serious consequences due to the violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines. Black Hat SEO will most likely damage the reputation and ranking of your website, and you can even get banned.
Here are some of the Black Hat techniques you should stay away from:
Link farms are a group of websites that all link to a target page or between each other constantly. The reason for their existence is to trick search engines to increase the popularity of the targeted website and rank it higher by increasing the number of inbound links. Link schemes are inadmissible and you will certainly get punished by Google for doing so. The recovery process after violating the Google rules is next to impossible.
Hidden Content is one of the most used Black Hat Seo techniques and as you can guess from the name itself, it is the content that is overstuffed with keywords and it is not visible to users but it is readable by search engines. Usually, CSS code or HTML tags is what is hidden.
One of the easiest ways to make hidden content is to match the background of your website to font color and use very small font size. Placing text off-screen will also do the trick since it will be visible to search engines only.
Keyword stuffing is also one of the unethical Black Hat methods and it includes loading the website’s source code with lots of different keywords in order to get ranked for them. That can be seen in the meta description of the page, <!–comment–> tags, meta keywords, <noscript> tags, alt text of images and in a lot of other places on your page.
Let me give you an example of the description that is stuffed with keywords:
<meta name=”description” content=”CC is a company that imports the best Japanese rice so if you need good rice from Japan contact our Japanese rice company because we import the best rice from Japan” />
Doorway pages are the pages that are stuffed with keywords and that are spamming the search engine index to get a high ranking for specific queries and later send the user to another target page. This is considered as webspam by Google Webmaster Guidelines since they harm the user’s search experience.
If you own a website or a blog of any kind you’ve most probably seen random unrelated comments under your posts. Automated spam comments represent another form of spamdexing and the main purpose of them is to make visitors click on the link they are posting all around. A few years ago, Wikipedia became a victim of spammers since they allowed everyone to edit any page, so it was a perfect target for Black Hat practitioners to place their links in descriptions and references.
That’s why Wikipedia and WordPress now automatically assign rel=”nofollow” tag to links and that helps search engines to recognize and not rank the link’s target.
Due to the huge popularity of spam commenting, it is a good idea to install a plugin on your website that will filter spam and it is also better to manually approve comments before they appear on your website or blog.
Cloaking is also quite used by the Black Hat crew since with this method your web pages are coded in such way that they show one set of content rich with keywords to search engines and another, more readable content to the users. Search Engine guidelines state that you should only create content for people and not separate content made specifically for search engines.
Having your content updated and adding new content on a regular basis is a good SEO practice for your website. But article spinning is quite the opposite. It is a technique made to avoid creating new content. It uses software to rewrite a single article into many different new articles. They are of course horribly written and do not provide users with any new information, but it does create an illusion of fresh content when uploaded to new pages on the website.
Even though these Black Hat SEO methods can help you get a high rank for a short period of time, once the search engines find out what you are up to, it will not take long until you penalty arrives. There are maybe even some Black Hat SEO techniques that you are using without even knowing, and if you are not educated in the SEO department, it would be a good idea to consult with an SEO company in order to avoid any possible consequences.
Using Black Hat SEO techniques is really not worth the risk since it can be very destructive to your website. I’ve only mentioned 7 of these unethical methods but you should try to stay away from all of them. There are many ways to improve your site’s position in the search engine results page in an honest way without risking to get banned. Yes, they might take more time, but the results are worth all the wait and they are long-lasting.
David Koller is a passionate blogger and copywriter for Media Gurus, mainly interested in SEO and Digital Marketing.