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8 black hat SEO strategies you probably don’t know you are using

14th November 2017 Print
Black Hat Seo

Every year, Google ups its antics for identifying websites that aim to deceive search algorithms into ranking them favourably. 

The penalties can be devastating, especially if you depend on organic traffic to grow revenue.

Unfortunately, many guilty SEO analysts remain undeterred and continue to devise different strategies to bypass search engine best practices. Some of these so-called black hat strategies have been used so much that people are beginning to think they are the norm.

This post will address some common practices, and if you have been using them, it is advisable you replace them with more acceptable SEO techniques.

What is black hat SEO?

Before we continue, it is important to discuss what black hat really means. Where did the name come from?

If you are an avid gamer, you will be familiar with certain “cheat codes” usually discovered by other core gamers to beat difficult stages and villains. In some cases, your health pack never depletes, and your ammo remains intact. 

Black hat SEO is no different- except that it is deeply entrenched in your business and can cost you a lot when penalised. The origin probably comes from a magician’s black hat of tricks – their deception.

Any strategy devised with intent to beat the search engine system (Google, Bing, Yahoo and so on) is regarded as black hat. Search engines penalise such practices, and most times they result in a bad search experience for web users. 

1 Cloaking

It can be annoying when you buy something and find a different thing inside after opening the package. Cloaking is similar. Some site owners code their webpages and sites to show one version of the content to Google, but when users click on it they see another version.

It is the exact opposite of what search is. People use search engines to find answers to their queries, but when they are presented with a deceptive result they will bounce off your site. If Google observes an unusually high bounce rate on your site, they will mark it as an indication of poor user experience. It can lead to poor rankings eventually.

2 Hidden text

This black hat strategy is like cloaking. Some text hidden in a content might be designed to be unreadable or invisible. Many SEO practitioners tend to hide text or links to enhance the keyword density of a page or “boost” its internal link structure.

Search crawlers often consider hidden text, and like cloaking, then can be applied carefully to emphasise the text configured in Flash or JavaScript because it is undetectable (or overlooked) by most search engines.

3 Keyword stuffing

This is one of the most common techniques. Many SEO experts are guilty of saturating their content with certain keywords they believe will boost recognisability by search algorithms. Algorithms index websites by analysing the keywords and key phrases relevant to the topic and content of the pages.

Unfortunately, this ends up making the whole content difficult to read and enjoy because ideally, it has been written for robots. Focus on writing quality content and using variations of the keyword. Google algorithms have been upgraded to analyse keywords better.

4 Meta tag/ descriptions stuffing

The main body isn’t the only thing being stuffed, apparently many SEO practitioners stuff meta tags and descriptions with keywords too. Again, this is in attempt to deceive search algorithms into placing priority on their content.

These meta tags and descriptions tell the robots the nature of the content. One or two keywords are sufficient for algorithms to pick the message, but when you stuff them it gives your website a negative connotation. The only thing you should be stuffing is your turkey dinner.

5 Article spinning

One of the best ways (white hat strategies) to gain good ranking levels on search engines is to write high-quality content regularly. According to Angela Weber, a senior marketer at OrthoSynetics, this allows the crawlers to index fresh content and rank your website high above others in the search result page.

However, some people use certain programs to spin 5 to 6 versions of an outdated post to give the impression of new material on their site. This type of duplication not only causes confusion, it blacklists the credibility of the website. Google’s Panda algorithm was designed to identify this wrongful practice.

6 Doorway pages

This technique deceives users into opening a website. When a searcher types in a query, they are presented with a list of pages in the result page. A doorway page is one with thin content that contains one or two paragraphs, and a link to the original source.

The aim is to draw the searcher to the site in hope that they might find other things on the page interesting. Doorway pages are so-called because they act as a “doorway” to the original content. The real authors of the content are often unaware that their material has been used this way.

7 Scraped content

Scraped content may be described as a variation of spinning. But it goes beyond duplication alone. In one form, site owners may set up templates for affiliate programs specifically for website promotion. The content on this page thin and does nothing but lure people to their site and sell products.

The second type is when a site owner copies content verbatim from another site to pass off as their own – usually in hope of appearing to be an authority in their niche. Fortunately, Google’s Panda identifies and penalises such offending sites.

8 Unnatural links

One of the ranking factors of a website is their citation and trust flow. That is the number of links and quality sites that link to (and from) a website. When several credible sites link to a site, it is usually an indication that the site is high-quality too.

However, some SEO practitioners abuse this by buying links (unnatural) from “link farms” and stuffing it into their content. Most black hat link building strategies point readers to irrelevant sites, just to boost their own credibility. The idea is counterproductive to good SEO practices.

Have you been unknowingly using in any of these hacks? It is time to desist and focus on white hat techniques instead. For better SEO results, refer to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It always pays to do SEO the right way.

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Black Hat Seo