As an active blogger or a website owner, you’re most likely familiar with search engine optimization or SEO for short. Getting that high rank on a search engine results pages (SERP) is every webmaster’s goal. However, be careful not to fake your way out to achieve that. In other words, falling to the dark side of Black Hat SEO.
Curious to know more about the darker side of SEO and how does Google take care of those who practice this forbidden art? Read on to find out!
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO is a subtype of SEO as a whole. There are white and black categories of SEO. It refers to disapproved methods of increasing a webpage’s rank in the SERPs. Users who practice black hat SEO don’t focus on their audience, but more on getting the number one spot by trying to manipulate the search engine.
It’s more frequently used by webmasters who are looking to make a quick buck from their website. However, using this tactic can get your site banned from search engines or ranked very low on the results page.
Black Hat Practices
The purpose of search engines such as Google is to provide readers quality search results and making sure that user intent was answered. Here are some SEO techniques that you should avoid if you don’t want your website to be penalized:
This method refers to websites that are programmed to generate content or posts that include keywords automatically. However, the content itself may not make sense to readers and not be of value. This type of content can be the result of using automated processes like Markov Chain.
Filling your posts with irrelevant keywords in an attempt to be ranked higher is a technique called keyword stuffing. This technique also includes placing the same target keywords or phrases repeatedly in a paragraph. It causes a webpage to rank for unrelated queries.
Hidden Text and Links
Since black hat SEO users don’t want to look obvious that they’re stuffing in irrelevant keywords, they hide the text. This can be done in several ways like white text on a white background, setting font size to zero, or placing text behind an image. As for links, they tend to be hidden on one small character such as the period or hyphen.
A number of website users also like to take other people’s content and paste it in into their own site in order to fulfill their daily posts. Scraping content, tweaking, and republishing without providing any value or adding original content doesn’t just result in copyright infringement, but also falls into the black hat SEO category.
You can say that cloaking is a magic trick done online. This method is commonly used by spam websites where they show spam to the readers, but search engines will see something else. It’s used to make a website rank high in terms that are irrelevant to the content it provides.
To know which other black hat SEO tactics Google has denounced, you can check their Webmaster Guidelines.
How Google Fights Black Hat SEO
As mentioned before, implementing black SEO can get your website penalized or even banned from search engines. Google has been tackling the issue and taking the necessary steps to preserve users experience in fulfilling their need for quality information.
Google has launched subtle algorithm changes that decrease the rankings of sites that don’t present content “above-the-fold”. At the same time, websites that have original quality content that gives beneficial information to readers will move up in the ranks.
Examples of websites that have been caught practicing black hat SEO:
- J.C. Penney
The retail website outshines millions of other sites and ranked at the top for a big range of phrases and keywords for months. They used link scheming, a black hat SEO method. The company received a Google penalty so bad that their rank dropped down by almost 70 positions.
Apparently, Forbes had been placing a lot of unrelated paid links on their site to manipulate the SERPs. As expected, the company was penalized by Google, and they were seen to remove the links after the penalty.
The time it takes for Google to crawl through webpages to make these changes depend on a number of factors. Not to worry, Google is always testing, refining and updating their algorithms. And they do give penalties if you fancy the dark arts.
Getting your website pages to reach a higher rank in Google can be frustrating as there are a lot of competitors out there. Some even took the shortcut of practicing “Black Hat SEO” such as keywords stuffing, hiding links and text, cloaking and so on. However, there are consequences once Google algorithms catch them. Ranks can severely drop, and there’s no way back.
Just focus on creating great original content. Be careful not to convert to the dark side just because of quick passive income. It’s not worth it in the long run.