Everyone knows that Neil Armstrong was the first person to set foot on the Moon. Now, if I ask you the name of the second person to do so, most of you would draw a blank. Why is it so? This is because no one cares about the person who comes second. Similarly, very few people search beyond the first page of the Google search engine. Therefore, it becomes important for your content to rank on the first page. This topic is not about how to write content that could rank high but about the illegal techniques people used in the past to force their way into the first page. These illegal techniques have a unique name, Black Hat SEO.
Why do you call it the Black Hat technique?
- 1 Why do you call it the Black Hat technique?
- 2 Examples of Black Hat SEO techniques
- 3 Final words:
Normally, you associate the color ‘black’ with something sinister or evil. Hence, if you use such illegal techniques with the sole aim of achieving a ranking on the first page of the search engine, it is known as Black Hat techniques.
Interestingly, people still use these techniques. In fact, prior to 2012, these techniques were very common. Sensing that people were misusing the liberty given to them, Google came up with their Panda Algorithm and a Penguin update that began penalizing websites using such Black Hat SEO strategies.
Examples of Black Hat SEO techniques
There are hundreds of such techniques. We shall see some of the usual ones people employ.
This is one of the most common techniques people use even today. One must admit that it is very difficult to identify such a technique. Let us see how they do it.
Cloaking is actually deceiving the Google search engine by showing one thing and taking the users to something else on clicking the search engine link. It is like selling a dummy in soccer (football). For example, your article could be on football. You display a link that supposedly should be connected to something linked to football. However, it takes viewers to a completely different website that has nothing to do with football. This is akin to deceiving Google as well as the people who view your content and click on the links provided by you.
The Google Search algorithms can detect such SEO tactics. They can penalize the website by lowering its ranking or even banning it from the search engine.
2. Keyword Stuffing
In the days prior to 2012, one could easily get away with stuffing the articles with keywords. Of course, you need to include keywords, but if you overdo it, it can backfire on you. It can make the site look spammy and have an opposite effect on the reader. It can not only irritate the reader but also annoy the search engine crawler as well.
The Penguin Update is very particular about this aspect. There is no fixed norm as to what the keyword proportion should be. However, prudence says that anything over 5% should be bad. It is better to maintain the proportion of the keywords between 3% and 4%.
Relevance is the key. Google takes a very serious view if you indulge in keyword stuffing. Using them in your title and description tags is fine but going overboard with it is certainly not on.
Passing someone’s text as your own is plagiarism. Duplicating or copying content verbatim from another website/article is plagiarism. Google considers this duplication of content as one of the worst forms of Black Hat SEO techniques 2017.
What does Google do with such content? It is natural for you to raise such a query. Google has modified its search engine algorithm to index original content alone. They have their program to identify copied content. The Google algorithm ignores such copied content thereby ensuring that they go waste. Hence, your focus should be on creating original content every time. Copying someone’s work is not going to fetch you anything.
4. Exchanging Links
Creating backlinks to your website is a sure way of driving traffic towards your website. Genuine backlinks are acceptable but participating in backlink exchanges is not. What is a backlink exchange? They are in fact, websites that usually work on a reciprocal basis. It works on a very simple principle, “I shall add you if you add me.”
It could work for you in the short term but over a period, you face a big risk if you participate in such exchange link programs. Google search algorithm can easily detect such practices based on the quality of links.
You do need to resort to such practices to be successful. Writing quality content can help your website rank high on the search engine. It can also introduce an element of trust in your readers that this content is a genuine one. This trust can take you miles ahead.
It is always better to build quality backlinks rather than resort to taking the help of these backlink exchanges.
Everyone knows that link building is very important to improve the ranking of any website. The more the number of links, the higher is your ranking. This has made many unscrupulous people sell thousands of links for a paltry sum. Many people fall prey to such advertisements not realizing that these are illegal link building techniques. The Google Penguin Update can locate such websites that buy links in exchange of money.
This has resulted in the banning of such spam websites from the Google search engine. In addition, those genuine websites that advertised their products and services on such spam websites were also penalized.
What is the lesson you learn from this? Never buy cheap backlinks. These SEO tactics could boomerang on you and affect your ranking on Google.
6. Link farming
You know the concept of a link exchange. There are many websites that exist solely to increase the link popularity of other websites through these link exchanges. This is known as link farming. At first sight, you might think it to be a genuine website but it could end up as a minefield of hyperlinks that direct to the most irrelevant websites.
One must admit that Google loathes such link farms. Hence, they can easily trace out your website and penalize you heavily. Avoiding link farming is always advisable. This is one of most risky black hat or negative SEO techniques.
How do you hide your text? It should be very simple for anyone to do so. Use the same color for the background. What would happen if you write with a white chalk on a white board? You will not be able to see the text, but the text will be present. The same principle applies here as well. The reader might not be able to read anything written in white color on a white background. However, Google’s bots are not human. They can find out because they have an automated system that can go through your source code to trace out the smallest errors. The way out is to ensure that your source codes and logs are free of hidden text.
8. Over optimization
Anything in excess is bad. You love to have ice creams. That does not mean that you can have ten to fifteen ice creams at a stretch. Similarly, search engine optimization is the key. Indulging in over optimization can have a detrimental effect.
There is a limit to everything in life. Google has the capacity to find out such over optimized content. It does not pay you in the long run.
9. Mirror sites
Many people use the mirror site concept to increase their website rankings. They use the mirror website to reflect the content into a new one. This is also a kind of duplicating content.
Many spamming websites have the tendency to use such Black Hat SEO practices. They justify the same by stating that they are using it to overcome DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks.
Typosquatting is a kind of a hijacking where the website designer creates a malicious domain that resembles the original famous domain. However, he includes a minor typographical error. Unsuspecting people do get cheated in this manner. They approach such websites thinking that they have browsed the correct one. Many people do resort to such practices to cash in on the trademark name and popularity.
This may look harmless to many but it is a dangerous exercise to do cybersquatting. It involves registering domains similar to a business name for the sole purpose of making a fast buck. This is an illegal way of making money. Google takes very serious objection to such Black Hat SEO techniques.
We have just seen 11 SEO techniques that are in fact considered as Black Hat techniques. Google takes a serious view of such illegal practices to improve your search engine ranking. They penalize the websites by either banning them from the search engines or by inflicting penalties that affect the ranking adversely. Hence, it is advisable not to resort to any such Black Hat SEO techniques for the sake of improving your website rankings.