What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO is simply the use of a variety of unethical measures to ensure a higher ranking in search engine rankings pages (SERPs). The term is used as the flipside of the organic means of gaining higher rankings – White Hat SEO.
Search engine algorithms have advanced to such a degree that they can now detect many black hat SEO tactics and automatically drop a site guilty of using these techniques further down their rankings. Whilst many of these techniques are naturally falling out of use as a result of this it is still essential to be aware of them as they could cause permanent damage to your company’s reputation if you are caught (albeit even inadvertently) using them.
What to look out for
There are many different techniques which fall under the banner Black Hat SEO and too many to go into depth about each but here is a non-exhaustive list of popular ones to look out for:
- Keyword Stuffing
- Doorway Pages
- Social Media Spamming
- Buying Links
- Link Farms
- Spam Comments
- Hidden Text/ Links
- Duplicate Content
Why people use it
As organic SEO techniques can take a long time to put into place as they rely on a strong marketing campaign which naturally is not an overnight process, people often turn to black hat SEO as an immediate return on investment. For some people’s goals using black SEO can be effective and offer immediate exposure to a wide audience. For any professional and reputable enterprise however it is essential to avoid using these techniques as the potential repercussions far out way any potential gains.
Why you must not use it
If caught using black hat SEO practises the damages to your business can be irreparable. On a merely technical level your site can be blacklisted by search engines and removed from their rankings pages permanently. If you are an established business this could mean having to change your company name to have any chance of having a web presence again.
Even without getting caught the damage to your company’s reputation and public relations will still be evident. For example if word gets round that you use these techniques the image of your company will be tarnished in the minds of customers and potential clients. By association it will be engrained in people minds that you use underhanded tactics to get ahead and people will then start to question how you conduct other sides of your business affairs.
These techniques will also shift the focus from your company’s primary goal – delivering solid targeted content to promote you visibility. When getting carried away with climbing the search page rankings at any cost you will lose touch with what your customers actually need and your overall returns will suffer accordingly.
What to do instead
It is essential to use organic means of generating high search engine rankings. To go into depth about how to achieve this would have to be the basis of another article entirely but the main thing to remember is is to provide quality content on your site at all times and to ensure a solid marketing campaign is in place at your company. Without these you are doing your selves and most importantly your customers a disservice.