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What is Black Hat SEO?

The term comes from the old western films where the villain notoriously wore black and the hero, white. In the context of SEO, white hat methods are approved by the Google terms of service, where black hat SEO tactics manipulate Google searches and violate the terms of service.

Having your business website ranked #1 in Google’s search results would no doubt improve your site traffic, but it can be a challenge to get there when so many bloggers and content marketers are doing the wrong thing. Black Hat SEO utilizes search engine optimization techniques to rank higher on Google that may impinge on Google’s terms of service and as a result generate higher revenues.

In this post we show you exactly what black hat SEO looks like and why these practices should be avoided in your content marketing.

What is Black Hat SEO?

The term ‘black hat’ has been applied to many online activities, like hacking, to highlight their illegal or unethical nature. The term comes from the old western films where the villain notoriously wore black and the hero, white. In the context of SEO, white hat methods are approved by the Google terms of service, where black hat SEO tactics manipulate Google searches and violate the terms of service.

The following are just a few of many unethical SEO techniques:

Spinning articles

Spinning articles refers to the act of rewriting existing articles online for use on your own website. As Google measures user experience, spinning articles will see you penalised heavily as content like this brings absolutely nothing new to readers. Note that this is not the same as sourcing information from other articles. A “spun” article is generally a poorer quality version of the original, often using software to automate the process.

The same goes for duplicating content. Plagiarising other websites is not only frowned upon but is monitored and punished by search engines.

Keyword stuffing

Imagine coming across the following paragraph on a shoe store’s website:

This shoe store sells shoes. We sell black shoes, red shoes, high heels shoes, business shoes, shoes for kids, shoes for school shoes for work, shoes for sport, sport shoes…

Horrible, right?

Long lists of the same keyword in a paragraph impact user experience and are tracked by Google. Not only is text like this painful to read but repetitive use of specific keywords will bring your page down faster than a fart in the wind!

Irrelevant keywords

One of the more sneaky black hat techniques is slipping completely unrelated keywords into content to generate more traffic. If your website’s content does not read naturally, be sure you’ll lose readers very quickly.

Hidden/invisible texts and links

Keywords and links are written onto website pages in the same colour as the background so users are unable to see them and are unlikely to click on them. Sadly, many readers online are taken to completely useless websites in this way which only helps to improve the rankings of terrible content.

Bait and switch or doorway pages

In this technique a webpage of no real value is fully optimized for high-ranking keywords in order to get you to click on it. When you enter the page you are likely to be redirected to a completely unrelated website. Google tracks this by the amount of users leaving a site immediately after arriving. If all of your customers are hitting the back button to return to search results, you will be caught.

What does your business stand to lose if you employ black hat techniques?

What are the dangers of Black Hat SEO?

Google crawlers, the code that determines how useful content is to a searcher’s request, are growing more intelligent. If Google catch you (and they will), you will be immediately hit with lower rankings which leads to less site traffic, fewer sales and a general slip in credibility.

If your crimes are significant enough, prepare to be de-indexed entirely.

Can you really afford to have your website removed from Google?

Black Hat SEO tactics may result in a burst of traffic and revenue in the beginning stages, but in the long term will damage your credibility and sales. Instead, put all of your effort into white hat SEO practices and build a long-lasting business. Potential customers will easily be able to find you through organic searches which will only see your rankings improve over time.

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