What is Blackhat SEO and how should my business handle it?
Blackhat search engine optimization (SEO) is an area that generates lots of interest from website owners the world over. While many webmasters despise the techniques by black-hatters, just as many website owners feel that black SEO techniques are the best way to get ahead in the enormous sea that is the internet.
“Illicit techniques that manipulate search engines to try to rank a site higher are considered blackhat techniques that violate our Webmaster Guidelines. Do not pay for links pointing to your site to be placed on the internet with the intent of passing PageRank and manipulating Google Search. These links may be called sponsored links or paid advertising, hidden in HTML, or inserted as optimized anchors in articles, comments, and footers.”
My personal opinion is that blackhat SEO is only good temporarily or for projects that you can spare to loose. Websites using blackhat SEO techniques will eventually be banned by the search engines. However, used properly, blackhat SEO techniques can be very effective for a fairly long time.
Since search engine optimization, better known as SEO, is all about getting one’s website listed at or near the top of various search engines (Google being the most important search engine of the bunch), it behooves every website owner to understand and use all tools available to him to accomplish this. Blackhat SEO techniques, despite how some webmasters feel, are effective SEO tools that should at least be investigated by webmasters. Even if a webmaster does not agree with, nor want to use blackhat SEO techniques, he must understand such techniques.
What are some Black Hat SEO Techniques seo companies are using that you NEED TO AVOID?
- Keyword stuffing – “Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose). Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.Examples of keyword stuffing include:Lists of phone numbers without substantial added valueBlocks of text listing cities and states a webpage is trying to rank forRepeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural, for example:We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at [email protected]
- Automatically generated—or “auto-generated”—content is content that’s been generated programmatically. Often this will consist of paragraphs of random text that make no sense to the reader but which may contain search keywords.Some examples of auto-generated content include:Text translated by an automated tool without human review or curation before publishingText generated through automated processes, such as Markov chainsText generated using automated synonymizing or obfuscation techniquesText generated from scraping Atom/RSS feeds or search resultsStitching or combining content from different web pages without adding sufficient value
Sneaky Redirects – Redirecting is the act of sending a visitor to a different URL than the one they initially requested. There are many good reasons to redirect one URL to another, such as when moving your site to a new address, or consolidating several pages into one.
However, some redirects deceive search engines or display content to human users that is different than that made available to crawlers. It’s a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines to redirect a user to a different page with the intent to display content other than what was made available to the search engine crawler. When a redirect is implemented in this way, a search engine might index the original page rather than follow the redirect, while users are taken to the redirect target. Like cloaking, this practice is deceptive because it attempts to display different content to users and to Googlebot, and can take a visitor somewhere other than where they expected to go.
Some examples of sneaky redirects include:
- Search engines shown one type of content while users are redirected to something significantly different.
- Desktop users receive a normal page, while mobile users are redirected to a completely different spam domain.
4. Hidden Text – Hiding text or links in your content to manipulate Google’s search rankings can be seen as deceptive and is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Text (such as excessive keywords) can be hidden in several ways, including:
- Using white text on a white background
- Locating text behind an image
- Using CSS to position text off-screen
- Setting the font size to 0
- Hiding a link by only linking one small character—for example, a hyphen in the middle of a paragraph
When evaluating your site to see if it includes hidden text or links, look for anything that’s not easily viewable by visitors of your site. Are any text or links there solely for search engines rather than visitors?
5. Doorways are sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries. They are bad for users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. They can also lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.
Here are some examples of doorways:
- Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page
- Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s)
- Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy
If you are involved at any level in search engine optimization or even internet marketing in general, do yourself a huge favor and at least understand what blackhat SEO is.