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Black Hat SEO: What It Is and Why You Should Stay Away

When it comes to SEO, the methods and techniques available to us are as varied as our imaginations. New techniques are being developed every day as people adapt their websites to changing audience habits and evolving search engine protocols.

There are two main camps you can separate these techniques into – White Hat and Black Hat SEO. White hat SEO refers to the methods that are considered ‘legal’ in a sense, as they are honest ways of getting your rankings up. These include backlinking, smart keyword research and placement, social media promotion, and the more. Black hat is the opposite of this and involves techniques that might be considered rather dishonest such as keyword stuffing, buying backlinks, article spinning, invisible texts, doorway pages, link spamming, and such. Let’s take a closer look at a few black hat practices and see just why you should avoid the temptation to resort to them.

Keyword Stuffing

This is where somebody creates an article, but instead of having the keywords in the article arise naturally and organically, they instead fill the page with it in order to trick search engines into thinking the page is highly relevant to the topic. Keywords are the words search engines look for on a webpage whenever someone searches for them, and thus are important factors when it comes to ranking.

Buying Backlinks

Backlinks are links to your page that appear on other websites and blogs. Usually, backlinks are earned by producing useful, quality content, which other webpage operators recognize and direct their audience towards. In the black hat world, some will choose to pay other websites in order to obtain these backlinks rather than earn them. Search engines rank pages with many backlinks highly because they indicate that a page or site contains useful, popular content.

Article Spinning

Article spinners are programs that can take an article and ‘spin’ it, rearranging words and phrases and adding a few here and there in order to make it seem like an original article. It’s basically a way to steal content from another website and pass it off as your own.

Why Avoid Black Hat Techniques

The temptation to use black hat SEO techniques can be a strong one, and many are unable to resist it. The reasons aren’t hard to understand – these methods have the ability to generate great volumes of traffic with relatively little effort. This shouldn’t fool you, however, because it doesn’t work in the long run. Google is incredibly efficient at recognizing when such techniques have been used, and they will punish you when they do by dropping your ranking significantly. Aside from the potential damage to your ranking, you have to think of your brand. Every website is a part of your brand, and when you resort to these techniques you are essentially trying to trick your audience. People are a lot smarter on the internet than the used to be, and they won’t appreciate being taken for fools.

Don’t risk damaging your reputation for easy traffic, not least because such traffic rarely converts into sales, anyway.

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