What is Black Hat SEO? Techniques to Avoid – a Few to Consider

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Updated July 24, 2018
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Man-In-Black-HBO

What is Black Hat SEO? Techniques to Avoid – a Few to Consider


Bryce Boyle Hoban

Bryce is a SEO Specialist and Content Strategist with Hook Agency – focused on creating content that attracts ideal customers for our clients websites.

There is a world out there where anything goes. Where there are no rules. 

The only goal: drive traffic to your site by any means necessary.

Welcome to the wild, wild west of search engine optimization: Black Hat SEO.

This type of SEO strategy is as ruthless as it is aggressive. It’s all about trying to deceive search engines while completely ignoring the actual audience of your site. Today, we’re going to talk about why Black Hat SEO is risky to implement, as well as some ‘gray’ SEO tactics that may work for you to improve your search rankings.

Man-In-Black-HBO
The villain in HBO’s Westworld, the Man in Black, would certainly be a proponent of Black Hat SEO

Google and Bing Have Both Denounced Black Hat Techniques

The ethics of Black Hat SEO have long been debated, but most SEO experts air on the side of the practice as unethical. Getting caught implementing these shady tactics can result in getting penalties or an all-out banning from Google and other search engines. Ultimately, Black Hat SEO is good for your business in the short-term, but will only give you trouble down the road.

To make sure you’re not a black hat offender, avoid these risky Black Hat SEO techniques that Google and other algorithms look for.

Thin and Duplicated Content

Writing short, uninspired and lazy blogs and articles will do nothing but hurt your brand’s reputation. Even if you do manage to drive users to your site, once they come across your content, you’ll lose your credibility. Duplicating content so it appears on multiple pages, but with slight variations, will only do the same. Sure, it’s an easy way to implement keywords across your site, but people will quickly catch on.

High-ad-to-content ratio

South-Park-Ads
South Park recently ran an episode on the plague of spammy ads online.

An overload of ads will not only look unprofessional, but it may also trigger Google to flag your content as spam and therefore penalize you. Look, we know that ads are great way to generate some additional revenue, but you have to find that happy medium.                   

Cloaking

In short, cloaking is altering the content that the search engine spider will see when crawling your site vs. what an actual human user will see. With this technique, you’re straight-up deceiving the search engine and this is a great way to get yourself penalized.

Buying Unrelated Links

Purchasing random links to connect to your site is risky business. Sure, we all know how important it is to have inbound links to achieve high search rankings. But if you truly want to score high with Google and Co., take pride in your site and write great content and lots of it. Also, build connections with other businesses to organically bring inbound links into your website. However, that’s not to say buying links is altogether a no-no. We’ll get into that in a second.

Hiding Text

Google-Hidden-TextIf you’re trying to bolster the number of keywords on site, hiding text and links on your pages by making them the same color as your background is just downright evil. And you will get caught.

Keyword Stuffing / Unrelated keywords

No one is going to tell you to not use plenty of keywords on your site. In fact, using keywords often and organically is a great way to generate traffic to your site. However, there is a fine line between smartly implementing keywords into your content and keyword stuffing. Imagine if I started every sentence of this blog with Black Hat SEO. Sure, I’d score highly for keywords for users searching for Black Hat SEO, but Google’s algorithm would likely deem my content as spam and I’d see that in my search result rankings.

Gray Hat SEO to Consider (Or White Hat… Depending on Who You Ask)

Between the murky Black Hat SEO and the pure White Hat SEO are search engine optimization tactics that are up in the air in terms of fair play. In other words, they are considered Gray Hat SEO. Here are a couple of these techniques that may be beneficial for your company.

Link Exchanges

Not to be confused with buying links, exchanging links is a great option for a not-so-black-hat-SEO-tactic. That is, if it’s done correctly. Work with other local businesses, particularly ones that offer products or services that are complementary to your own, and build relationships with them. You want to make sure that if you decide to link exchange with another business, that they are a good fit. Is there offering as a high of a quality as yours? Is there price point similar? What are their values and are they similar to yours? Be careful when using this SEO technique.

Buying High Quality Links

While some digital marketers may shake their finger at buying links, why would you not want to improve your ability to drive users to your site? If you’re content is solid and useful, then you should have no problem with buying inbound links. Just make sure you don’t overload them. Check out TheHoth.com and other top notch link buying sites if you’re serious about generating more traffic.

What Should You Do?

Obviously, we’d never recommend an SEO strategy that could lead to penalties or bans from search engines. What you should consider is what tactics will help your business thrive in the long run. Typically, that will involve solid keyword research, writing high-quality content, taking time to craft title tags and meta descriptions and overall maintaining a clean, well-performing website that looks professional.

As a digital marketing agency, Hook Agency is ready to assist you in your digital marketing needs. Reach out today and learn more about the services we provide and how we can help you reach your marketing goals.

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Bryce Boyle Hoban

Bryce is a SEO Specialist and Content Strategist with Hook Agency – focused on creating content that attracts ideal customers for our clients websites.

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