There are two types of SEO, the type that search engines like and the type that they do not like. The term white hat and black hat go back to the days of spaghetti westerns where the good guy would where a white hat and a bad guy would wear a black hat. When it comes to the world of SEO, people who implement black hat practices on their websites are considered the bad guy in the eyes of search engines. Over the years, search engines have done a lot to put an end to black hat practices and have managed to do so very successfully. Most methods of black hat seo will be detected by google and other search engines very easily.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Back in the early days, Black Hat seo was the silver bullet for website owners. A couple of hacks here and there and you were #1 on Google, even if the content of your website had nothing to do with the keyword. These days however, it is not so easy. Google has become incredibly smart and can detect people trying to cheat the system. If you are caught cheating, you can be banned from Google completely! Educating yourself on what not to do is just as important as knowing the correct way to do things.
I said at the start of the guide that quality content was the best way to rank in search engines. Sometimes it can be difficult to get the balance between quality and length. There are black hat methods to improve this without hurting the user experience, but as always, Google will catch you. Getting banned from search engines can mean the death for most websites.
Black Hat SEO is always a short term solution. Even if something works and you see fantastic search engine rankings, it could be blocked in the future which can set you back a lot of time and money. Plan for the long term and stick with White Hat SEO strategies. Black hat SEO techniques go against search engine guidelines and if you are caught, the search engine is free to ban you completely from their network.
Using Invisible Text
You want to give the end user a great piece of content, but in order to target every single keyword you want, you have to bloat the piece, making is more difficult to read and far longer than it needs to be. One way around it would be to write a really good piece and then start writing some extra content that is invisible to the end user, but Google can pick it up. It sounds like a great idea but not in reality. Google are able to tell if the end user experience is not the same as what the search engine crawler sees. Even if your visible content is fantastic and would normally rank, because you cheated, the entire page will get a black mark and will not be indexed.
Keyword stuffing is one of the black hat things that isn’t really punished but will still hurt you. Say you want to show up in search results for “best summer outfits”. This term needs to appear in the page content enough so that Google can understand that this page is definitely related to the term “best summer outfits”. A very common mistake that people make is to put that term in the page content a bunch of times. If the term appears way too often, it is called keyword stuffing. Unfortunately, this will actually cause your page NOT to rank for that keyword. Google will not punish the whole site for this mistake, they will just prevent the page from ranking for this keyword. To prevent this ever happening, I would suggest you use the SEMRush SEO writing assistant.
Paid Social Media Likes & Shares
Social media does play a role in ranking. It is hard to make people share your content though, you can’t control it. One way to change this is by paying services to share it. Most of these accounts are bots and get banned from Social media websites. Do not use these services. They make your website look bad and do not benefit your search engine optimization efforts, they are a waste of money.
This is by far the most frustrating of all the black hat SEO tactics. If your website gets hit by this, you will know all about it! This process involves paying someone who controls some automated software. This software will visit millions of websites and start posting comments to blog posts and link back to your website. This is unnatural behavior for humans and will leave a black mark over your domain making it much easier to identify as being a spam website.
Paid links have always been a part of SEO and will probably always be part of it. Backlinks hold value in SEO. If you pay some other website to post something with a backlink to your website in it, what’s the difference? There is no difference and if you go about it the right way, you can pay for backlinks and never get caught. When you are starting out however, it is easy to get excited when you see services for $5 that will give you 100 backlinks. That sounds amazing right! Well its not, and this can cause your website to get banned from Google very quickly. Suspicious backlink behavior is one of the fastest ways to get banned from search engines.
If you get a backlink from a bad website that Google knows is a spam site, this backlink will no longer give your website a positive reference. To go back to my original example of references. If a bunch of drug dealers tell you talk to someone for a good deal on car repairs, would you go there? Probably not, because these people are not trustworthy. Websites that are not trustworthy are treated the same and their reference damages your website. Most of these cheap services get caught out very fast and your website will suffer greatly from it.
What if another website uses black hat SEO against me?
This was a huge issue some time ago. Once Google started punishing websites for black hat seo, webmasters turned it into a weapon. If i wanted to beat the competition, I would pay for a bunch of terrible backlinks from dangerous websites to link to my competition. Google would see this and punish the website for it. This was known as Negative SEO.
The issue is still a problem these days and for smaller websites that are unaware of the issue or unsure how to fix it, a negative SEO attack can be very damaging. Thankfully, Google have provided us with a tool that lets you disavow links that you are not happy with and they will ignore them. This is your way of telling google “I had nothing to do with this, please ignore it”. This tool can be damaging if you do not use it correctly. I will go into it later on in the guide.