[SEO 101] Topic 8: 4 Black-hat SEO Techniques and Why You Should Avoid Them

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You get the best of both worlds with Ethical Search Engine Optimization, aka White-hat SEO. Because Great User Experience and High-Quality Original Content appeal to both search engines and users.

Why not take the easy way out?

The opposite is what we call Black-hat SEO. In pursuit of a higher search engine ranking, some people cheat their way through. Will they see an improvement in rankings? Maybe. But will their sites be penalized short after? Most certainly! Google’s automated systems can detect the majority of spam and keep them out of top search results. They also have a spam removal team that manually tackles the rest. Exploiting Google’s Webmaster Guidelines can get any site penalized, tanked, or even omitted from search results. So, don’t even think about it unless you want your ranking to take a plunge.

black-hat-vs-white-hat

How exactly do people cheat?

keyword

Keyword Stuffing

Have you ever come across a site where the content is way off? For example –

“We sell pet food. Our pet food is good for your pet. If you want quality pet food for your pet, contact our pet food specialist now.”

It is what we call “Keyword Stuffing” – one of the most notorious Black-hat SEO techniques. Remember how Google Search algorithms value Content Relevance and that the content is likely to be considered relevant when it contains the same keywords as the search query? That explains the reckless and repeated input of keywords. Little did they know, a Google penalty awaits, and visitors instantly leave their site because they sound ridiculous.

What should you do instead? Well, write information-rich content. When you cover a topic meticulously, it makes sense for your desired keywords to appear quite a few times. It goes something like this –

“We pride ourselves on designing user-friendly headphones for all motorcycle riders. The ergonomic neckband sits comfortably and stably on the neck. And motorcycle riders can change a song, pick up a call, and activate Siri simply by twisting the control panel on their headphones. Concerning battery life, our headphones deliver an industry-leading 25 hours of listening time on one charge, perfect for any long-distance motorcycle ride.”

Yes, you will be writing a lot more, but it’s worth it – Google acknowledges the Content Relevance, and people love a good detailed product description.

Article Spinning

Article Spinning

Article Spinning is where you rewrite a piece of content to produce many more versions of it. You know, with trusty paraphrasing tools from college years or even advanced AI technology? People spin articles because building backlinks this way is much quicker and easier. (Yes, some people build backlinks themselves – they purchase several domains then regularly publish backlink articles pointing to their sites.) One problem though, these backlinks have little value. Because paraphrased content implies unoriginality. And AI-generated ones tend to sound a little weird. In Google’s eyes, these are all red flags. Remember, Google rewards people for the quality of backlinks, not so much the quantity. In fact, with a sea of poor-quality backlinks pointing to your site, it signals to Google that your site is spammy. Ultimately, it can hurt your search engine ranking.

Cloaking

Cloaking

Cloaking is essentially showing different content to human users than to Googlebot. Sure, some people do it to deceive users. A quick example – you search for Korean cuisine on Google, click on a page that seems to be relevant, only to see all things gambling.

Others do it for SEO, or so they thought. Text or keywords will be inserted only when Googlebot requests the page, not a human user. Cloaking of any kind violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. So, again, it can hurt your ranking.

Not sure whether Google sees your page the same way a human user does? Ask yourself – if you look through the code of your web server, will you find something that specifically checks for Googlebot? And does your site’s robots.txt file disallow Googlebot’s crawling of JavaScript, CSS, and image files? If the answers are “No”, you are good. Don’t forget to use Google’s URL Inspection tool to see exactly how Googlebot sees the page, it helps you identify and fix any indexing issues on your site.

Negative SEO

Negative SEO

Negative SEO is when a competitor intentionally sabotages the rankings of a competing site or page. Building mountains of spammy backlinks, submitting fake link removal requests, leaving fake negative reviews, and performing cyber-attacks are some common examples.

Don’t worry. It is always possible to detect and fight against these negative SEO attacks. For example, with a trusty SEO tool like Ahrefs, you can find new spammy backlinks pointing to your site in real-time and identify lost backlinks. Then you know what backlinks to disavow and who to ask about the link removal.

Concerning fake negative reviews, you should do a monthly check on what appears in the SERP for your brand reviews. If you spot some fake negative reviews, do report them and request the platform to take them down.

As for cyber-attacks, it is safe to say “prevention is better than cure.” Installing a security plugin and using strong passwords are good ways to start. If you need some assurance, you can see for yourself with the help of the “Security issues” tab in Google Search Console. It tells you if any issues are detected.

Stay in Google’s Good Books

Black-hat SEO practices are not only unethical but also sometimes illegal. Not to mention, they do not bring sustainable results. So why not stay in Google’s good books instead?

As a reputable digital marketing agency, New iMedia helps your business grow using only white-hat SEO approach.

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