You must’ve seen websites with tons of shady backlinks shooting up in the SERPs. This is possible by using a few risky and unethical SEO strategies. And that’s why a lot of stuff floating around the web brings no value to users but still manages to get ranked well. Though these strategies manage to get a lot of traffic, the benefits are short-term, and search engines aren’t particularly forgiving about them. Here are some things to keep in mind regarding black hat SEO from the team at YourSocialStrategy.

What is Black Hat SEO?

‘Black hat SEO’ is a term used for unethical SEO practices that violate search engine rules. The term came from Hollywood, where black hats are the bad guys. Though these shortcuts increase search engine rankings, they can quickly backfire if caught. So Google, for example, has started to take aggressive action against sites that are caught using black hat techniques. Once that happens, your visibility drops down drastically, and you might even be penalized and removed from the search engine altogether.

Why is it Bad Using Black Hat SEO?

Bad user experience: Such sites are created with the sole purpose of ranking as high as they can and serving ads. This means when people come to such sites, they won’t be served content relevant to their query if they find it at all.

It’s cheating: It’s not a fair race when people are using dirty tricks to get ahead while everyone else is just playing by the rules. And honest sites that follow Google’s guidelines ultimately suffer because of it.

You could get your site penalized or banned: Google is ruthless when it comes to sites trying to manipulate their system. If found using any shady strategies, they can downgrade your site, remove it from their index, or you could find yourself completely removed from the SERPs overnight.

What Can You Do Instead?

SEO is a marathon, it takes time, but it is definitely an investment worth making. The more you invest in your website and work to improve its value, the better chance you have of climbing up the ranks when people type in relevant queries. Long-term success requires you to play by the rules, so if you’re in it for the long haul, build your site with great content and have patience. Use white hat strategies that don’t break any rules but still get results. These include keyword research, link building, quality content creation, press releases, blogs, social media marketing, and community building.

Black Hat SEO Strategies to Avoid:

To run a successful SEO campaign, you need to avoid using black hat strategies. Here are some to look out for:

Keyword Stuffing

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book where people aim to cram as many relevant or irrelevant keywords into their content as possible. This can result in things like:

  • Repeating keywords over and over again, sometimes even in the same sentence.
  • Creating blog content that’s really just a list of keywords with no real value for users.
  • Spamming with text in the same colour as the background so it cannot be seen by humans but can be read by search engines.

Google’s algorithms consider factors like readability and uniqueness, so such content doesn’t last long.

Comment Spamming

You might have seen comments like this on blogs before:

“Awesome post! I’ve been waiting for someone to write something about this forever! Thanks!”

These are called comment spam because their sole purpose is to leave a comment that boosts your site’s engagement and, subsequently, your ranking. However, now Google has updated its algorithm to factor in unique visits, so this tactic is less effective.

Content Theft

Some people go as far as to copy someone else’s content, change a few words here and there, then re-publishing it on their site. However, this practice can get them into serious trouble because not only does it violate copyright laws, but it also violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Nevertheless, they’re very proactive regarding plagiarism and duplicate content, so you can expect some harsh consequences when they find plagiarised content.

Spammy Linking Tactics

Quality backlinks are still one of the most important ranking factors for Google, but not all links are valuable. For example, there are websites called ‘Link Farms’ with the sole purpose of linking out to random sites. These sites usually charge for links, and paid links are illegal by google guidelines. Plus, when you get an audience from spammy sites, it decreases the ranking value of your site.

Hidden Links

Some websites hide affiliate or referral links in their content, trying to pass them off as editorial links. Google has gotten really good at spotting such links, and they don’t like it when people purposely try and fool them. According to new guidelines, you have to disclose when you’re putting an affiliate or referral link, so that’s another to consider.

Negative SEO

This is where competitors try to bring down their rivals. Someone, for example, can leave falsely disparaging reviews on directories like Yelp or reports sites to Google with false claims. Other ways might include pointing bad links on sites or sending sites to link farms. Whatever the case, if you’re a victim of such an attack, you should clean up your links and reach google for malware assessment before they penalize you.

Google doesn’t let anyone get away with shady strategies, so make sure you play safe. Instead, focus on using white hat strategies that are effective and above board. For more tips on SEO marketing SEO, check out our blog or book a free consultation with one of our experts.

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