Ten years ago, many people believed incorrectly that SEO was a deceptive marketing strategy that involved “cheating the algorithm” and employing tricks to convince Google that your website was the top result for a search query.
This should never have happened, and SEOs should always have concentrated on producing the best possible result on the web rather than merely making it appear to be the case.
However, Google’s algorithms at this time were less sophisticated, particularly when it comes to recognising online spam.
Times have changed since many marketers used black hat SEO techniques to rank websites. We’ll go into great detail about the strategies to avoid in this tutorial if you don’t want to violate the algorithm and Webmaster Quality Guidelines.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO strategies are employed to boost the rankings of websites that disobey search engine rules. Black hat SEO strategies make an effort to trick search engine algorithms in order to improve a website’s rankings on the SERPs.
Search engines, like Google and Bing, are quite clear about what behaviours are prohibited. Additionally, they are quite clear about the possible repercussions of breaking their rules. Black hat SEO practises can cause your website to be penalised (either algorithmically or manually), which will most likely result in lower rankings and a reduction in organic traffic.
The Risks of Black Hat SEO
Utilising black hat SEO techniques to rank your website carries a number of hazards, which is why the majority of SEOs decide against utilising such strategies. The majority of SEO professionals believe that these tactics are wholly unethical.
But the truth is that a small proportion of marketers want to try to game the system and try to accelerate their site’s organic success, and they probably always will. Even if black hat SEO tactics are successful for your website, the results are frequently transient.
When examining Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, it is evident that they provide the following advice on the fundamentals of SEO:
Avoid using tactics designed to raise your search engine results. A good rule of thumb is whether you would feel comfortable outlining your actions to a Google employee or a competitor website. It’s also a good idea to inquire, “Will this benefit my users? If there were no search engines, would I still do this?”
It is true that adopting black hat SEO strategies does not benefit users, and they wouldn’t be applied if search engines didn’t exist.
3 Reasons To Avoid Black Hat SEO
What are the worst-case scenarios, though, if a website uses unethical SEO techniques to rank well?
Upon further inspection of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, it becomes evident that such infractions “may result in a site being completely deleted from the Google index or otherwise affected by an algorithmic or manual spam action.” Additionally, according to the guidelines, “after a site has been harmed by a spam action, it may no longer show up in results on Google.com or on any of Google’s partner sites.”
Although the goal of SEO is to increase a website’s visibility and traffic from organic sources, using black hat SEO techniques can have the opposite effect. We’ve categorised this into three main reasons to help you understand why such methods should be avoided.
1. It Can Negatively Impact Your Search Rankings and Visibility
The main deterrent to using black hat SEO techniques is the fact that they will eventually cause your website to lose search engine ranks, visibility, and traffic.
Just glance at the examples below. The following describes the prominence of a website that used unethical methods and suffered as a result:
Conversions and income often follow a similar pattern as a website loses visibility and traffic.
This alone may result in a decrease in a company’s profits, job losses, or even firm closure. A major fall in organic traffic will, at best, necessitate a greater investment in PPC or other paid marketing to make up the difference.
In the video below, you can learn more about how black hat SEO strategies can result in a website’s performance to degrade as a result of either manual action or algorithmic filtering:
2. It Won’t Drive Long-Term Results
Even when manipulative tactics result in an initial improvement in ranks and organic performance, these effects are rarely maintained.
While it might take some time for Google to find out that a site uses unethical tactics, once it does, a loss of traffic is unavoidable (this could be because a manual review was undertaken or because a fundamental algorithm was altered).
Perhaps the only thing worse than trying to rank a website at all is witnessing rankings and traffic that have been artificially inflated before dropping drastically in the near future. Businesses require certainty, which black hat strategies cannot provide.
3. It Typically Results In A Poor User Experience
In his comment on our Technical vs. UI/UX webinar, Bastian Grimm discussed how the significance of UX for SEO has changed over time. He said: One thing that became a bit more obvious is that Google were not necessarily trying to rank sites that had done best SEO, but rather that deliver a decent or at least a happy experience for people.
In order to deliver the finest content and the best UX, SEO must take into account the user’s experience on a website. Black hat strategies, on the other hand, optimise for consumers as opposed to search engines (or at least what they believe search engines want to see). This could be problematic all by itself.
The success of a search depends heavily on trust. There’s a considerable likelihood that the site’s ability to convert will be considerably reduced if search engines are prioritised over users.
5 Black Hat SEO Tactics To Avoid
It might be challenging to know which SEO methods to employ and which to avoid when you’re just getting started. While many of the fundamentals of SEO are unambiguously ethical practices, many of the more sophisticated techniques demand greater care.
Make sure, though, that you are taking the appropriate advice. While some suggested solutions on blogs, in social media groups, or through your connections may sound like “advanced” ways, in reality they are only pointing you in the direction of more black hat methods.
The more you are aware of the strategies that could end badly for your website, the easier it will be to avoid them. The following nine strategies are against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and should not be used in 2020:
1. Keyword Stuffing
Overusing the primary target keyword(s) on your page won’t help you rank. The established practice of “keyword stuffing” will very definitely have the opposite effect.
White hat By sprinkling a term throughout a page unnaturally, SEO professionals will occasionally try to alter a site’s ranks. Keyword stuffing frequently takes place in haphazard chunks that are placed outside of the primary material or inside of paragraphs that simply make no sense when spoken aloud.
2. Automatically Generated/Duplicate Content
It’s challenging to produce quality content, but there’s no getting around the reality that it’s still one of Google’s top three ranking factors.
Automatically generating content to rank for a lot of keywords without actually writing anything useful or original is a frequent black hat tactic. An illustration would be the creation of numerous location pages, each of which uses the same information with the exception of a different place name.
Take the effort to produce SEO-friendly content to avoid problems brought on by duplicate or poor quality pages.
3. Hidden Text
The term “hidden text” refers to text that is the same colour as the backdrop, is off-screen or behind an image, is purposely hidden from users using CSS, or even has a font size of 0. Many marketers would submit lengthy lists of keywords they wanted their content to rank for in SERPs; while this is misleading, it is occasionally used to stuff keywords in.
4. Doorway/Gateway Pages
Google considers it to be against the rules to create pages that simply serve as a funnel to one page for specific search queries. Doorway or gateway pages are what these pages are referred to as.
Your website’s content should all serve a defined purpose, and you shouldn’t make pages just to try to rank for vaguely related keywords.
Examples of this include:
- creating pages to target geographically specific keywords that direct consumers to a single page in places where your business has no physical presence
- pages made with no consideration for the needs of users, only to rank for search queries.
Cloaking is a technique that includes giving users and search engines alternate information or URLs, ultimately giving them a distinct experience.
This is an obvious attempt to rank a page using material written for search engines while directing readers to a different location (or object). This is a dishonest activity that contravenes search engine policies.
Concentrate your efforts on creating the best user experiences you can, and there’s a strong chance the search engines will adore your page as well.
How To Report Black Hat SEO
Consequently, after reading this guide, you may have thought to yourself:
What if you notice one of your rivals utilising unethical methods but they aren’t getting caught?
When you think that a website is ranking because of bought links, spam, or other infractions, you can submit a spam report to Google. Although reporting a website won’t result in immediate action, it will help algorithms that detect spam.
It might be demoralising for a marketer to learn that a website is abusing the system and getting away with it. There are still websites performing well by utilising black hat SEO techniques, despite Google getting better at stopping such sites from ranking in the top spots on the SERPs.
There’s a good likelihood that they’ll suffer in the not-too-distant future following another algorithm modification, depending on the severity of the web spam that other sites are using.
The most important thing to remember is that any website using black hat SEO techniques runs the danger of being penalised by search engines like Google.
And even if they aren’t utilised as frequently as they previously were, there are still SEOs that follow this path or who mislead businesses into thinking it is being marketed ethically when, in fact, the methods are blatantly against Google’s policies.
Overall, we advise against using black hat techniques on your own website. Be careful to understand how to rank your website using strategies that do not contravene Google’s Webmaster Guidelines if you need assistance making your site more accessible online.
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