5 Black Hat SEO Tactics that You Want to Avoid

Louise Armstrong
by Louise Armstrong on April 10, 2012 in Visibility
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When it comes to search engine optimization, not all techniques are created equal.  Depending on how you do it, SEO has the power to either vault your site to the top in search engine rankings, or send you to Internet oblivion.

Black hat SEO is basically a number of tactics employed by site owners and webmasters who aim to trick search engines into awarding their pages higher ranking.  Increasingly sophisticated search engine algorithms are making it difficult for black hat SEO to succeed, and more likely that those who use them will be caught and penalized.  So, before you fall into the trap, let’s go over five of the most common black hat SEO tactics:

1.  Spamming
One of the most widely-used black hat tactics, spamming involves posting blog comments and links that are unrelated to the topic, in order to get backlinks from that site.  This is often done by leaving garbled, keyword-stuffed words accompanied by a link to a site that has nothing to do with the topic.

2.  Hidden Text
Hidden text is just that—keyword-stuffed text that is only visible to search engines.  While the reader sees only the visible content, “behind the scenes”, hidden text (usually the same color as the background) is populating the site with spam.  Search engines are onto it and will penalize sites that utilize this technique.

3.  Cloaking
This is the practice of creating two versions of one web page—one for search engines and one for readers.  The search engine version is typically stuffed with keywords, while the reader version includes normal keyword densities.

4.  Content Scraping
Scraping is essentially stealing content from other sites to avoid having to create unique content.  This is done using software that searches the web for content from sites in your niche, compiling it for easy insertion into your web pages.

Without fresh, unique content, your site will not rank—period.  Google Panda and other recent updates have ensured that sites are no longer rewarded for rehashing content.

5.  Keyword Stuffing
An oldie but a goodie.  This black hat technique is still used, despite the fact that it’s disliked by both humans and search engines.  Today’s SEO requires that content be readable by people, who can then share it and link to it.  Keyword stuffing virtually guarantees that your content will be unreadable, unsharable and pretty much useless when it comes to giving you better online visibility.

There are many other infamous SEO black hat tactics out there.  All of them will, sooner or later, cause you headaches with the search engines.  You can be penalized or even banned from the search engines if your site is using these techniques.  So avoid them!  If your SEO company encourages their use—run for the hills as fast as you can, and don’t look back.

Louise Armstrong

Louise Armstrong

Louise is a Senior Digital Strategist at Bonafide. A pop-culture addict with a passion for all things digital. She's Scottish by birth, but don't ask if she likes haggis...