Search engine algorithms provide searchers with the best results for their queries. The higher up a website is on the search results, the more likely they are accessed by curious users, which can boost its credibility massively. Websites use search engine marketing tactics to appear further up in the rankings. These can fall under two categories: white hat and black hat SEO. White hat SEO uses Google’s best practices for ranking organically, while black hat SEO refers to using unethical tactics and rule manipulation to fool the algorithm. What is black hat SEO? Pure SEO discuss the black hat SEO practices you must avoid and their consequences.
Why Should You Avoid Black Hat SEO?
Many black hat SEO practices often disregard user experience in favour of undesirable methods that appeal to search engines. These can create a short-term boost in rankings but come with significant risks in the long term, such as a drastic drop in search ranking visibility, a restriction in positioning new content, or complete removal of your website.
Not only will black hat SEO affect your website rankings, but it can also negatively influence brand perception. Although your website might rank higher and receive more visitors, bad user experience from poor website design and undesirable tactics are guaranteed to increase your bounce rate.
Black Hat Tactics You Should Avoid
If you’re new to digital marketing and want to get started, you can engage a reputable SEO agency in Auckland for assistance. Receive a comprehensive SEO audit of your site to highlight any black hat SEO tactics you might have been using unknowingly and a customised plan to improve your rankings organically.
What is black hat SEO? We have listed several detrimental tactics you should be aware of.
Keyword stuffing refers to repeating target keywords across your site to incorporate them in as many areas as possible. Often, this makes content sound strange and unnatural, resulting in a negative user experience and an increased bounce rate. Search engines can detect visible and invisible keywords on your website, causing it to become penalised for ‘spam’.
An example of keyword stuffing given by Google is ‘We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org.’
Duplicate or Poor-Quality Content
Typical black hat SEO tactics involve using automatically generated content to rank many keywords, duplicating similar content for multiple pages with different keywords, or copying and pasting content verbatim from a more reputable source. These methods can result in paragraphs of indecipherable text stuffed with keywords without meeting the visitor’s needs.
Good quality, authentic, and genuine content is one of Google’s top three ranking factors. As a vital part of white hat SEO practices, relevant and helpful content helps your website stand out as an opinion leader and information source for visitors and potential customers.
This method uses various ways to conceal text on a page, such as changing it to the same colour as the background, having it positioned off-screen or behind an image, or set to a size zero font. This tactic deceptively hides additional keywords, including ones that may not be relevant to the brand, to influence page rankings.
Some redirects are necessary and perfectly legal in cases where the host is moving their site to a new address or consolidating multiple pages into one. However, a sneaky redirect deceives search engines by displaying different content available to the search engine to tamper with rankings. In these cases, the search engine indexes the original page while redirecting the user to a different destination URL. Sneaky redirects are an active violation of the Google Webmaster Guidelines.
The more backlinks a website has, the more Google considers that site to be authoritative and trustworthy. However, getting many organic backlinks to your website can be challenging, especially from trusted sources. Paying for links and using link farms, which are solely used for backlinks, is against Google’s guidelines. If detected, both the buyer and seller will have their sites labelled untrustworthy and can be potentially penalised.
What to Do When You Come Across Black Hat SEO
Although using black hat SEO tactics may see you gaining a quick short-term rise through the rankings, the overall penalties and eventual downfall are simply not worth it. Performing an SEO audit with a credible SEO agency and rethinking your digital marketing strategy with white hat SEO tactics are the best ways to rank your site legitimately.
If you spot a website that you believe to be using black hat SEO tactics but isn’t being penalised, you can file a spam report with Google. While this may not result in direct action and an immediate takedown of the site, your report will go on to help improve the spam detection algorithm and reduce the number of websites using black hat SEO.