Visitors are more likely to find your website if it ranks well in search engines, but landing on the first page of search engine results doesn't happen overnight. Some businesses realise how much time and effort it takes to build an established website and resort to blackhat SEO techniques for faster results.
Learn what blackhat SEO techniques are and how they can potentially ruin your online growth if you are caught using them.
What is Blackhat SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimisation, is a process of improving your website to gain more visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). Nearly 68% of online experiences start with a search engine, making SEO extremely important to increase the amount of online traffic going to your website.
You can use white hat SEO or blackhat SEO methods to improve your website's ranking. Both techniques can improve the performance of your website, but blackhat SEO methods often have serious consequences that can negatively impact your overall strategy.
Only 5.7 % of articles end up in one of the top spots in the first year after publication. Competition is fierce when it comes to grabbing one of the top spots, which is why so many marketers resort to blackhat methods. Blackhat SEO techniques are despised by search engines like Google, which measure the value of a website based on certain parameters.
If your website is caught using blackhat SEO techniques, Google and other search engines may eventually ban your website from their rankings, eliminating potential opportunities to collect online traffic and sales. Your website may not be banned completely, but if you use suspicious blackhat SEO tactics, you may suffer major traffic losses from Google's algorithm updates.
Google is constantly improving the way it finds results for its users' search queries, and carries out technical updatesthat help it determine which websites should be ranked higher. These updates often include systems to find and penalise websites that use strategies that violate Google's terms and conditions. Before you start your next SEO campaign for your online business, make sure you know what blackhat SEO techniques are so you don't use them and hurt your growth.
Blackhat SEO techniques
Below are some unethical methods used by marketers and business owners to rank their websites high in SERPs. Proceed with caution as using these methods may result in your website being blocked/disadvantaged by Google and other search engines.
Embedding bad links
As a website becomes more popular, visitors often copy your links to relevant information and share them with their own audience. This process is called backlinking and helps Google and other search engines determine which websites are helpful and popular. Backlinking is an easy way to increase traffic; however, over 66% of the sites on the internet have no backlinks at all.
In some cases, backlinking can have a negative impact on your website's growth if you don't provide good content and follow Google's guidelines. For example, your website could be penalised if you use blackhat SEO tactics, such as trading money for links.
You can also be penalised by search engines if you use a private blog network (PBN) to include fake URLs that link back to your website and dramatically improve your ranking. This type of activity can have a negative impact on your business and long-term consequences. When in doubt, it is best to stick to white hat SEO methods to keep your website ranking high.
Link placement is also an important aspect, and blackhat manipulations in link placement can also have a negative impact on the SEO value of your website. The footer is a valuable area to place links because footers appear on every page of a website providing many different links to the page. However, some marketers insert footer links with commercial anchor text to manipulate their results. This is considered a blackhat practice and Google will penalise you for it. So be strategic and sensible in choosing which links to include in your website's footer. Link to your main pages and do not try to gain an advantage through fraudulent or manipulative practices.
It used to be easy for marketers to post comments on a website's blog and leave a link to their website in the comment. This eventually led to a backlink for the website and boosted the website's ranking.
Nowadays, this method is largely outdated, as Google has introduced rules that comments no longer carry as much weight in terms of backlinks; but blackhat SEO marketers continue to implement this strategy with automated tools. It is important to note that spam services can make you vulnerable to Google penalties if you violate their terms of service.
SEO marketers who don't want to spend the actual time it takes to rank highly and create valuable content focus on stealing that content from others. By taking the top ranking websites in their niche, they copy the content and paste it directly into their own article. They get it to the top of the first page without doing the actual work.
This type of blackhat SEO tactic is known as duplicating content and is highly criticised in the SEO industry, yet some people use this blackhat SEO technique for the sole purpose of outranking their competitors. It is advisable to avoid publishing duplicate content on your website, no matter how high the percentage of copied material.
When duplicated content led to major penalties in the SEO industry, a new form of content emerged. Article spinning is taking content that has already been written and modifying it slightly to avoid using the same words and phrases.
With minimal changes, marketers can exploit this blackhat SEO tactic without getting caught for duplicate content. Article spinning may not go unnoticed for much longer as Google continues to improve its ability to detect these types of blackhat SEO techniques.
Cloaking means that a website owner creates special code so that a Google crawler browsing the page gets completely different information than a human visitor seeing the same page. Essentially, it is about fooling Google into thinking that there is different content on a page than what is actually available to visitors.
Google doesn't like being tricked in any situation and will penalise any website that uses this blackhat SEO technique. Every word, image or other element you place on your website must be the same experience for both the Google algorithm and your website visitors.
In the early days of search engine optimisation, you could find a popular keyword and use it over and over again in your article to rank high in the search engines. Keyword stuffing has long since become obsolete with various Google updates that allow the algorithm to read articles more effectively.
If you stuff your articles with your keywords, the search engines can detect this and penalise your page. This has long-term consequences for the ranking for certain keywords. Instead of stuffing your articles with keywords, write texts that are relevant to your audience in a language that fits your brand.
Another area where you should watch out for keyword stuffing is alt text. Remember that the purpose of alt text is to be read aloud to visually impaired users, to be displayed when an image cannot be loaded, and to help search engines understand images. If you stuff them full of keywords, it is an abuse and prevents them from serving their purpose. Therefore, Google can penalise you for keyword stuffing in alt text and lower your website's rankings.
Invisible text and links
If your website has a white background and you change the font colour to white, you can no longer see the text. This was a blackhat SEO tactic that marketers used to place their keywords without the audience knowing that the information was on the page. This practice can also be used for links.
As Google's algorithm evolved, developers helped it decipher the invisible text on a page, and now websites that use this strategy are penalised. In general, it is bad practice to try to trick search engines into thinking what you want them to think. You should focus on producing quality content and material that will help your website rank high in search engine results pages.
Overused anchor text
Overusing the same anchor text doesn't seem like a problem, but it could get you flagged for blackhat SEO tactics. While it's logical to use the title of a page every time you link to it, it could look like spamming to Google. To avoid being penalised for overuse of anchor text, keep each one short and highly relevant to the page. Never stuff it with keywords. Try to use unique anchor text for each link. This approach helps to integrate the anchor text naturally into the content.
Choose SEO Best Practices
Using any of the above blackhat SEO techniques can negatively impact your brand and jeopardise the future development of your website. The occurrence of any of the Google penalties can undermine your website's SERPs ranking. Don't ruin a potential source of revenue and stick to White Hat SEO Methods for your website.