When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) and boosting your page rank (PR), there is a lot of information to keep track of. Since Google updates their algorithms on a regular basis, some people like to try
and find ways to “work around” their process. The practice of finding and promoting loopholes and workarounds to undermine the standards set in place by Google and other major search engines is called “Black Hat” SEO.
The SEO industry has rapidly grown to become an extremely lucrative market, and has created a competitive industry as the internet has grown and developed. Since the competition in the SEO industry had become so heightened, many companies turned to “Black Hat” and illegal tactics to gain the upper hand over competitors. The most popular search engine companies – including Google, Yahoo, and Bing – have learned of many of these “Black Hat” SEO methods and make sure to inform people that these methods are a violation of their terms. The search engines began to enforce rules prohibiting “Black Hat” SEO methods and failure to comply could lead to the de-indexing of your website.
Simply put, “Black Hat” SEO is the term that describes the use of unethical, illegal, or prohibited methods in order to increase a website’s PR. Here are 3 examples of black hat methods currently being used in SEO campaigns:
Keyword stuffing is one of the most commonly used and abused methods of “Black Hat” SEO. Keyword stuffing involves the over use of certain keywords on your website intended to increase traffic from search engine results. With keyword stuffing, you will often see a bunch of keywords in small text at the bottom of a webpage repeated over and over with variations. While using keywords is encouraged, over use of a keyword phrase or term can make your content sound unnatural, and cause a lower PR.
Cloaking is essentially a method that allows one to display different information to their website’s visitors than the information provided to the search engines. Although there are instances of cloaking that are not considered “Black Hat”, when used to deceive the search engines, cloaking should be avoided at all costs. When presented with the option to use cloaking tactics on your website, make sure that you review the search engine’s terms to find out what is allowed and what’s not to prevent your website from being banned.
Redirects can be both good and bad when it comes to SEO. One of the most common “White Hat” uses for redirects is for pages that are being updated and need to be temporarily deactivated. In that scenario, a redirect will send visitors to an alternate page on your website when they have received a 404 error, or indication that the webpage is unavailable. An example of a “Black Hat” way of using a redirect page would be if a visitor clicked on your website link and was brought to a landing page with very little content value, then moments later was redirected to a sales page or signup form.
All of the methods mentioned above can be used in your SEO campaign for legitimate and logical reasons. But if you use them in your SEO campaign as “Black Hat” methods, your website is at risk for being banned from. Search engines pride themselves on providing accurate, relevant, and useful results and have a low tolerance policy for “Black Hat” methods and what many people would refer to as spam. Though the instant gratification is motivation enough for some, the long term effects of violating terms by using “Black Hat” SEO methods is simply not worth it in the long run.
Don’t flush your SEO efforts down the toilet with black hat tactics!
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