Search Engine Optimization can be a tricky process even for experts – with the constant and sometimes radical changes that Google has been implementing throughout the years, it is really easy to fall into a Black Hat trap. Today, we will explain some of the most common Black Hat SEO techniques that companies and SEO professionals need to avoid when optimizing their website for search engines.
What are Black Hat SEO techniques?
Search Engine Optimization can be an extremely long and tedious process. Usually, it takes months and even years to start positioning yourself as an authoritative website in the eyes of Google and other search engines.
For this reason, many companies fall into the temptation of looking for a shortcut in order to position faster – and they start performing illegal techniques and practices to help them rank better in a shorter amount of time.
This not only gets detected and penalized by Google but can also cause that a website gets removed from the search engine´s index for a long period of time. And not getting indexed by Google simply means that people won’t be able to find you, because you will not be there anymore.
Simply put, Black Hat SEO techniques are aggressive practices used to manipulate search engines by disobeying their guidelines, with the purpose of positioning faster or “better” on the first pages of the search engine.
Here are some of the most common ones that you should avoid at all costs:
This technique deceives search engines by displaying one thing and then taking users to something else once the link has been clicked on. For example, you trick users into thinking that they will visit a music band’s website, but instead you take them to another web that doesn’t have anything to do with this music band.
Cloaking is still one of the most popular Black Hat SEO techniques used nowadays, but it is needless to say that search engines have evolved to detect it easily – so avoid doing it unless you want to get penalized.
2. Link building
Another popular and still widely used technique that tries to generate a lot of backlinks is called Link building. Because external links that point to your website are extremely important for the authority of a website (and better positioning), many people try to manipulate the system by buying numerous meaningless links from the so-called “link farms.”
Needless to say, this technique is useless because the number of links isn´t the only thing that matters to Google. The quality, domain authority and context of these links is much more important, so don’t obsess over quantity.
3. Keyword Stuffing
One of the most popular Black Hat SEO techniques, which was widely used before Google’s Penguin Update in 2012, although it can still be found nowadays as well, is keyword stuffing.
Because a keyword is the main component that helps search engines match your article with the terms that people are looking for, it is still very common to stuff the article with a disproportionate number of keywords. There is no fixed norm on the correct proportion of keywords, but usually, anything higher than 5% is considered a bad practice.
4. Duplicating content
If copying content from other websites was a common practice a few years ago, search engines have developed algorithms that are able to detect non-original texts. In fact, Google has modified its search engine algorithm to only index original content, so duplicates will be ignored.
To avoid this mistake, you can quote in small chunks or cite sources to complement your original articles the right way.
5. Hidden content
Among the most penalized Black Hat SEO techniques is hiding content so that users aren´t able to see it, but Google will. People do this with the hope of stuffing this hidden text with keywords so that it won’t ruin user experience, but improve search engine rankings.
However, I don’t have to tell you that this is no longer an accepted practice for Search Engine Optimization. Search engines have developed algorithms that are capable of sorting through the source code, and identifying even the smallest errors and mismatches.
6. Irrelevant keywords
In a desperate intent of getting that high rank on Google, many people make the mistake to abuse their content with irrelevant keywords that have little to do with the actual topic of the text. However, search engines are usually able to detect these practices, and will not give their authors a high credit for that.
In fact, Google also stopped indexing tags due to unnecessary overuse.
7. Heading over-optimization
Using multiple H1 tags on a web page is a widely spread tactic for positioning better on search engines, but it doesn’t really work the way people think it does. In fact, it is not recommended that you use more than one H1 tag on a webpage – only if you really believe that it’s necessary.
8. Content Automation
You might be surprised to learn that there are tools and scripts out there that will automatically generate content for you and publish it on your website with minimum effort from your side.
However, this type of content usually provides a poor experience to the user, so it is always the better option to focus on quality.
Probably one of the most annoying Black Hat SEO techniques is the clickbait. Simply put, it is the practice of writing catchy and deceptive headlines that trick users into thinking that they will discover something shocking and exclusive on the website. However, this practices lowers significantly your CTR and the time spent on the page, so it will most probably hurt your rankings in the long run.
10. Article Spinning
This technique is very similar to duplicate contents, but this time it involves using a special software to grab an original text and rephrase it so that it doesn’t look like a plain copy. This one is more difficult to detect by search engines because it doesn’t duplicate content, but it still provides poor experience for your users.
So, these are some of the main Black Hat practices that you need to avoid if you want to achieve a good ranking on Google in the long run. Don’t get tempted to take a shortcut; not a single cheap trick will ever be able to beat hard work, quality, and great user experience.