Chapter 10 – Black Hat SEO.
It is human nature to look for a shortcut to success. SEO is not untouched with such desire. Webmasters are always looking for ways to rank better with less effort. This led to rise of unethical practices which would use loopholes of search engine functioning and exploit the loopholes to get better rank in search result. Such techniques were later termed as Black Hat SEO techniques.
Black hat SEO are not only unethical, but they also violate the guideline laid by search engines for SEO. Black hat techniques are sometimes so tempting as they look more promising than normal laborious SEO techniques. However end result of such techniques is never good.
Search engines have been fighting this menace and have imposed penalties on websites found indulging in such practices. When it comes to Google they have championed themselves in fighting spams. Google specifically in recent times has done various algorithm updates to counter the black hat SEO and spams.
You may initially gain a good traffic by using black hat SEO techniques, but when Google catches up with you, you get heavily penalized. The traffic which you have gained drops significantly. The Drop in traffic means a drop in income from your website. Usually the penalties are as heavy as removal of the website completely from search results and it takes a lot of time to recover from such penalties.
You must be wondering if black hat SEO has got so much of repercussions then why are we discussing it all? The purpose of discussing it here is to make you aware of the practices which you should not follow even by mistake.
When someone starts learning something there is a tendency in a learner to look for more information about the topic of his interest. Internet is full of information it simply takes minutes to look for information. Similar is the case with SEO. If you try to find information on SEO you would get hundreds of website spewing information on how to get quick success in SEO. Most of the information about SEO is stale, which once used to work and was considered legal trick is now illegal and would get you penalized if you followed them. Since this information is stale it will not tell you that these techniques have now become black hat SEO techniques.
The aim of this chapter is to make you aware of such techniques so that you do not get penalized unknowingly. Lets discuss some common Black hat SEO techniques one by one.
1. Keyword Stuffing: This is one of the most common technique of black hat SEO. In these techniques a website will fill up the web page with a long list of keyword with no content or they would put up a meaningless or low quality content. This in the past used to bring traffic to the website for those keyword, but it was a bad user experience as user looking for information would land up on pages with a list of keywords or meaningless content filled with keyword. They would have to surf a lot to find the correct website with correct information.
This is the reason Google has put a penalty on keyword stuffing. Keyword has not only made the life of spammers difficult, but has also made life honest webmaster difficult. Since there is no specific guideline laid for keyword stuffing, honest webmaster become prey of keyword stuffing and get penalized. It happens mostly with new webmasters as they are not much aware how to write content which is free of keyword stuffing. If you have the same doubt and want to get more information, do read my blog post “Is your content keyword stuffed?”.
2. Invisible or Tiny text: Putting tiny text at bottom of page or creating text in color similar to background color to make the text invisible is also a form of black hat SEO. It is again done in sole attempt to rank for these keywords. Google blocks any page which has hidden text or text that are not human readable.
3. Cloaking: It is a technique in which different content is shown to search engines than what is shown to the user. This is done in an attempt to rank for different keyword other than what is present in the content. There is a severe penalty if a website is found to be indulged in cloaking.
4. Doorway pages: In Doorway page technique multiple pages are created where each webpage is optimized for couple of keyword. When these pages start ranking well in a search engine they are directed to a single page which may not be related to search terms for which original page was ranking for.
So if you landed to a web page which has to do nothing with your search term which you entered on Google and it appears to contain different content, than what it said in search snippet, then most probably you clicked a link of a doorway page on a search result, which has directed you to this page. As it is with Cloaking Doorway page too invites penalties from search engines.
5. Link exchange: Link building is an important part of SEO. We all know its importance it is the major contributor in SERP. Given that it has got so much importance there has been targeted extensively by spammers and it has become a major victim of black hat SEO. Link exchange is one of most common form of black hat SEO technique in backlink building. In which two webmasters agree to create backlinks for each other on their website to mutually benefit their site rank. However, Google webmaster clearly states that link building process should be natural and any unnatural link building method is not acceptable and there is a penalty for this as well.
6. Link buying: Website owners would do anything to get backlinks. They would not mind shelling out a few bucks for backlink as they understand it is a very important investment to grow the traffic of their website. There ares several websites who will create backlinks for another website for a certain fee. Google has very strict policy on link buying if a website is found indulged in buying or selling link it get heavily penalized.
7. Link Farming: Once it was clear that link exchange and link buying has been banned by Google. People started looking for different methods of link building. Similarly spammers also got into interesting method of link building. They started registering several new domains to create small blogs on them and use these blogs to create backlinks for a main parent website. These blogs were known as private blog network and this technique of link building was called link farming. The blogs which were built to create backlinks usually has low quality or spun content. Google has identified such attempt of link building and has again discouraged any such attempt by imposing penalty on any such website which is using such method of link building.
8. Duplicate content: Most of the people who use black hat SEO are lazy so instead of creating their own content, they would copy the content from a well ranking website to their website. Google hates duplicate content and any website with duplicate content negative ranking.
9. Article spinning: Article spinning is another method of stealing content from another website. The only difference between duplicate content and spun content are the words of content. In article spinning a word of original content is replaced by synonyms of the same word. This is done with the help of article spinning software. These software usually produces low quality content sometimes they spin content in such a way that sentences become meaningless. Since these are low quality content they would never get better ranking or I must say no ranking at all from Google.
For people who don’t want to write content and is thinking of buying such article spinning software. I would strongly suggest not to waste money on such software. Instead, I would suggest to pay some to write content for you.
10. Bait-and-Switch or Page Swapping: In this technique a web page is optimized with one set of content and keyword once the web page is indexed by the search engine and the page starts ranking well for keywords in the search engine website owner would change the webpage entirely. Such methods can lead to removal of web pages from the Google index.
These are some of the common black hat SEO techniques which I wanted you as a beginner to be aware of so that you do not commit these mistakes and get yourself penalized. However, the list does not end here. If I want to continue the list this list will become very big and also as people keep looking for shortcuts more and more black hat SEO technique are getting invented and this list may become a never ending list.
I would be writing a blog post about any such black hat SEO technique as and when I discover it. So keep in touch there is a lot to learn.
For people who are worried that how do I find that whether a new technique of SEO which you discover is a black hat SEO technique or not or whether you should follow it or not. There is no such parameter to define whether a technique is black hat or white hat. However, I can give you a guideline to judge it. Any technique which promises you an overnight or over a week success in SEO is a black hat SEO. Ranking doesn’t happen in a day or in a week it takes months. So any such things should raise an alarm in your mind and the best approach would be not to follow it.
Also keep in mind that if your website or blogs deserves to be on top you don’t have to use any spam techniques just keep doing things which are right and you will get what your website deserves. Google is a champion in fighting spam, so we can trust on its guideline and if we follow it, success is not too far.
So keep it up guys you have reached this far I am sure you have it in you and continue with me and we will together learn what is right way of success.