Black Hat SEO & Reasons to Avoid it
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most important forces to fetch user traffic to your website, which in response also helps your website to grow. However, it is human nature to always look for shortcuts or the fastest possible ways to get the task done. But what we must never forget here is that there is always an ethical way to do everything, and deviating from this could convert any good thing into bad. The same truth holds up for SEO, and the deviation from the ethical code of SEO is commonly termed as the ‘Black Hat SEO’.
Black Hat SEO is fundamentally defined as the unethical and risky practices that are aimed at gaining higher search engine ranking by using tricks to dodge the defined set of SEO rules. Black Hat SEO practices are purely technical, and they are strictly prohibited and disapproved by the well-regarded search engines like Bing and Google. These search engines also reserve the rights to penalize the websites that are caught using Black Hat SEO tactics for gaining higher rankings.
This blog post discusses what is Black Hat SEO? What common Black Hat SEO practices are used by the websites to gain unapproved web traffic and higher search engine ranking? And what are the principal reasons for avoiding Black Hat SEO?
Most Common Black Hat SEO Practices & Technical Reasons to Avoid Them
- Link Farms
Link farms can be defined as a website or a collection of websites that are developed exclusively for the purpose of link building. These websites basically link to different other sites that are required to be ranked higher on Google. The websites are ranked by the search engines by looking at how much websites have linked the particular site. There are many other factors also that are involved in ranking but a number of links are an important part. Hence, by using link farms, the black hat SEO misuses the technique. With the help of link farms, the black hat SEO increases the number of links for a particular site.
The content of link farms is usually not up to the mark and the website also contains a lot of links. Moreover, the keywords are included in the links for which they want to rank the website. Nowadays, good search engines such as Google can easily detect the link farms. So, you should avoid using them otherwise Google can give you a penalty. For building links the good approach is to use the white hat SEO techniques like creating excellent content, graphs, data, interviews or any other content with the help of which you can get the backlinks naturally without using any black tactic.
- Keyword Stuffing
This is one of the most common black hat SEO practice, in which a webpage is stuffed with numbers or keywords, in order to forge the search engine into indexing the page to relevant searches. In reality, these stuffed keywords are irrelevant to the site and only relevant to a particular search. This helps the website getting diverted user traffic and subsequently higher ranking. Often, these keywords are kept hidden from the user, and only readable by the search engine. According to a poll conducted amongst Best SEO Services in UK, it was established that keyword stuffing simply results in poor user experience and it is also harmful to the overall ranking of the website. Fortunately, the algorithms of advanced search engines have become strong enough and refined in recognizing keyword stuffing and lowering the ranking of the sites using this practice.
Cloaking is referred to a black hat SEO practice, which shows different content to the crawlers than what is shown to the users. One of the most common types of cloaking involves the use of differentiating titles, description, and keywords that are completely different from what the content is actually about. If identified with cloaking, the website can be permanently banned.
- Misleading Redirects
As shown by its name, misleading redirects tricks the SEO by taking a user to a completely different URL, instead of the one that is actually intended. Intent redirect is considered malicious in the world of the internet since it misleads and redirects both the user and search engine crawlers to different pages. Misleading redirect tricks the web page indexing and ranking and violates the SEO guidelines, and thus considered unethical.
- Link Exchange Program/Link Buying
Similar to internal linking which helps a website attaining higher ranking, backlinks also serve the same purpose. In fact, these are the easiest way to assess the performance of your web content. Link buying is commonly used to manipulate search engine ranking. In the same way, link exchange programs also fall within the category of black hat SEO practice. Link exchange programs are referred to the one in which one site exchange its links with some other website. However, buying or exchanging links from unethical means could cause the website heavy penalties or a lifetime ban.
Plagiarism is another black hat SEO practice which is used to bypass SEO security fences. Plagiarism is all about copying the content produced by someone else and passing it forward as your own work. Plagiarism is considered to be black hat SEO, as many websites simply stick or duplicate content from the high ranking website and use them exactly. When a search engine looks for the relevant keywords, the website with the duplicate data also appears in the indexing along with the highly ranked website with original content Google’s search engine is now capable of identifying duplicate web content and it penalizes the site for on the off in case if the content is replicated.
- Blog Comment Spam
This black hat SEO technique is evident from its name. In this technique, a link of your website is included in blog comments. This technique does not work now because Google has updated its algorithm so the links in the blog comments are discounted now.
There is a huge decrease in the number of people who use this technique. But still, you can find many people who provide the links in the blog comments on Fiverr.
This is not a natural way of getting links for your website so you should avoid this practice. If you own any community or group then make sure that people do not spam the comment section with links to their websites. Otherwise, search engines like Google can block the pages that are spammed with links. You can avoid spamming by using tools like Google’s free reCAPTCHA.
Examples of Black Hat SEO
Groupon’s Bait and Switch
Groupon was blamed for performing a bait and switch by San Francisco Comprehensive Tours. The touristic company did one of promotion with Groupon. However, the voucher website did not stop advertising the promotion on Google long after it had ended. When the visitors clicked on Groupon’s page, no discount policy was available there as the content had been taken out. This bait and switch can also happen on organic results but in this case, it occurred in a PPC advertisement.
J.C. Penney’s Black Hat Links
J.C. Penney was ranked at the top of search results for a huge number of keywords such as from “skinny jeans” to “home decor”. This excellent performance of the retailers in search results was done around the holiday season. This exceptional performance was not due to the good ranking of the page but it was the result of the black hat SEO link building techniques. These techniques slipped under the radar of Google.
Doug Pierce discovered around 2,000 backlinks. There was the anchor text in the links with the keyword which J.C Penney wanted to rank in search results. There were many links on the website that were irrelevant to J.C. Penny. The website contains a variety of topics ranging from casinos to cars. While giving an interview to the New York Times, J.C. Penney took no responsibility for the links that were found.
According to the Google, J.C. Penney performed the actions that were against their webmaster guidelines. Google claimed that J.C. Penny had violated guidelines of webmaster on three previous occasions. Hence, J.C. Penney received a Google penalty and a huge drop occurred in the ranking of the web pages.
Sprint’s User Generated Spam
In 2013, a user known as Redleg x3 posted on Google’s Webmaster Central forum in which he claimed that Sprint got a notification from Google warning of user-generated spam on their website. Matt Cutts of Google commented on the thread which stated that most of the spam had been removed from the website. Mr. Cutts further said that the company should “…try to catch the spam a little faster or see if there are some ways to make it a bit harder for the spammers to post a large number of messages on the community pages.”
Why You Should Avoid Black Hat SEO?
- It All Ends with Poor Content &Low-Quality Website
One of the agencies named Jellyfish which is famous for providing services related to digital marketing in UK identified some of the major reasons for avoiding black hat SEO. The first reason it describes is that the sites engaged in black hat SEO usually have low-quality content, which ultimately results in user repulsion. Using low quality, keyword stuffed or replicated content can finally end up the site receiving low ranking over the search engine.
- It’s a Long-Term Suffering
Another significant reason to avoid black hat SEO practices is that it can cause your site to suffer for a very long time and can even get it banned permanently. The search engines are becoming smarter with every passing day and they have successfully developed algorithms that are working more efficiently in tracing the website that are by any means practicing black hat SEO. This means that if you get caught in the cookie jar only for once, you can lose your chance of being in the indexing or ranking of search engine’s results. This can prevent your website from being visible to millions of users, and trust us it’s really hard to get into the good graces of search engine again. Hence, we would only recommend you to opt for black hat SEO, if you and your business are ready to bear those huge losses.
- It’s Really Easy to Get Caught
Last but not least, and probably the fundamental reason to avoid black hat SEO is the fear of being caught. Getting caught for your crime is something that is really intimidating and embarrassing. While attempting for any black hat SEO practice, you must never forget that the top search engine like Google is in the game because of their super sharp proficiencies and plethora of smart tools, tactics, and people who are capable enough to trace, track and fight against the sites that are engaged in black hat SEO and their operators. So, it is simply baseless to bang your head with them by using black hat SEO practices, because ultimately they will catch you.
On a concluding note, black hat SEO practices may help a website getting higher search engine ranking within a very short span of time, however, once a search engine discovers it, it will take no longer to get your site penalized or banned. So, if you are opting for an ethical, high-quality website in long- run, using any type of black hat SEO does not worth the risk, rather what’s worth more is to hold your fire.
How to Avoid Black Hat SEO
We all know that there is a risk factor involved in black hat SEO. So, this business is not worth it. Here we have provided some tips that can help you in avoiding the black hat SEO:
- You should treat the searcher and search engines in the same manner. Do not “cloak” or trick the search engine crawlers by redirecting them to another page. Put all your efforts into solving issues for the searchers and try to provide a good user experience.
- Do not perform keyword stuffing and try to write quality content. Avoid scraping, duplicating or rewording the content. The best approach is to write original content that belongs to you. You can learn the content guidelines provided by Google.
- While adding the structured data to the website, you must follow the rules properly. The scheme markups that you add to the website must be accurate and should not provide a wrong guidance to the users.
- Do not buy or sell the links as it is a very common technique in Blackhat SEO. Moreover, do not offer any free products for the links. You can check the FTC endorsement guidelines if you are not sure about any move.
- It is not a good practice to set up a private blog for the purpose of link building. The best way is to produce good and original content so that you can gain the links naturally.
- Keep yourself updated about the webmaster guidelines so you can avoid black hat techniques that are not allowed by search engines.