If you know anything about digital content, you have probably heard the term “Blackhat SEO” thrown around a time or two. You know it’s meant to be important (or people wouldn’t talk about it so much) but do you fully understand what it means?
Well, let’s start by breaking down the literal meaning of the term. When you hear the word “black”, it often refers to something illicit (like blackmail, the black market and so on). Symbolically, the “hat” refers to cowboys of days past, donning either black or white caps to represent their malicious or good-natured intent.
The two words combined have come to describe a dark, unethical approach to garnering search engine rankings, as coined by hacker culture theorist Richard Stallman. Blackhat SEO breaches the guidelines Google has set for websites to earn rankings, hence amoral associations.
But conscience aside, there are other reasons to avoid Blackhat tactics, the most pertinent being that your web presence will likely suffer because of them.
Google hates Blackhat SEO, so if you utilise such “strategies”, Google (i.e. the biggest search engine in the world) will hate you too.
Here are a few reasons why:
- Google cares for its user experience and Blackhat SEO creates an awful user experience, so naturally they would want to avoid it
- Google wants websites to pay them to show advertisements on every page. When websites use Blackhat SEO, Google faces a great deal of monetary loss. To counter this type of SEO, Google has now started to change its algorithms to kill any loopholes that allow for manipulation.
- Low-quality and artificial content are the exact opposite of what Google is known for. It wants to retain its reputation as the “Internet God”, therefore it does not approve of Blackhat SEO.
No that you understand why Blackhat is unsavory, you should know which Blackhat tactics you should look out for and actively avoid.
Here are the most common practices that are considered Blackhat SEO:
The Sly-Approach Keyword Stuffing: As the name suggests, keyword stuffing is when websites try to fill in their content with unnecessary keywords to prove to the search engines that their website is relevant. This is evident on pages and websites where the content hardly makes sense but keywords are used repeatedly.
The Hidden Text: Similar to keyword stuffing, using invisible or hidden text is another form of blackhat SEO where certain terms are used excessively. But in this case, readers cannot see the text– it only exists in the background to be found by search engines. This strategy does not include the use of Alt tags in images, as that text is hidden as well but is used as the image description.
The Link Spam Overload: Initially, Google based a website’s credibility or popularity on the volume of backlinks it had. However, Google has recently changed this criterion. It now searches for natural linking patterns to the website instead. This has encouraged websites to employ link spamming by using automation software to build links to their site.
The Scraper Sites: This kind of Blackhat SEO basically involves “scraping” off content from other websites and using it on your site instead of creating unique and original content of your own.
The Art Of Cloaking: This is when search engine bots are shown different content than what is visible to readers. IP addresses are used to differentiate between bots and actual users. This is strictly against Google’s quality guidelines as it can lead to inconvenience or disturbance for online users. For instance, a web server that is cloaking may appear in a search about cartoons but actually return material on adult videos or online gambling when the user visits the site. The basic reason why a website owners would create this type of site is to earn advertising revenue by driving more traffic to their page.
The (Behind the) Doorway Page: These pages act as “secret passages” to the target page or website. They funnel traffic from search engines without adding any meaningful content to the site.
The URL Redirect Trick: This last tactic is where sites use URL redirects to trick online users and search engines into reaching entirely different content than what they are looking for.
If you are guilty of any of these Blackhat SEO tactics, Google will penalise you for it. Don’t risk your rankings and your reputation by trying to get ahead illegally. Instead, trust experts like the team at Search Marketing Group to help you amp up your online presence in a constructive way.