What is black hat SEO (and why it can cause you trouble)
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It is understandable that your desire is to achieve a good SEO ranking, but doing so at any cost will have negative repercussions. A good SEO strategy will provide you with lasting and reliable results. On the other hand, if you have been tempted by questionable practices, you should familiarize yourself with what black hat SEO is before implementing these practices.
What is black hat SEO?
To briefly explain what black hat SEO is, suffice to say that it involves practices which aim to increase the ranking of a site but, in fact, violate search engine guidelines. Various actions fall under the category of black hat SEO. If you doubt the legitimacy of an SEO strategy, always ask yourself how it adds value to the user. This is the safest and most ethical way to review tactics to improve your ranking.
Being unfamiliar with what black hat SEO is and what such practices are can do a lot of damage to your business. Algorithms to detect unethical techniques are becoming more sophisticated, and the penalties for applying them are very strict.
Black hat SEO techniques to avoid
Search engines aim to provide users with accurate answers to their queries. For this reason, they are very attentive to any attempt to violate their algorithms. Although these tactics may first go unnoticed, they will nevertheless eventually be detected at some point. It is essential to know what black hat SEO is to avoid unintentionally implementing one of these practices.
Keywords are a basic element of SEO, but abusing them can have serious consequences. Google detects keyword abuse intended to manipulate rankings. Consequently, it penalizes the use of irrelevant keywords or variations of them that do not provide value or lack context.
It is recommended that you research what keywords your audience uses and create content that responds to their searches. However, be sure to use terms that make sense and use them in a natural way, avoiding unnecessary repetition. Remember, simple repetition will not improve your position in the results, as the algorithms are considerably sophisticated.
Cloaking is one of the quintessential practices that define black SEO. It aims to circumvent search engines by displaying different pieces of content than those shown to users. Manipulation of indexed content may have misleading and untrustworthy purposes and direct users to risky sites.
In this case, page redirection consists of redirecting a URL to a URL other than the one originally requested. It has some similarities with cloaking because the indexed page is different from the one the user sees. However, there are some situations where this applies. For example, when you change your domain and redirect your web traffic to your new address. It is considered a black hat SEO tactic when the intent is to deceive search engines or users.
Poor quality content
On several occasions we have referred to the importance of quality content. In all cases, this is the heart of any SEO strategy. So, a piece with poor content has no chance of ranking well. If content is also duplicated, it will not only be poorly ranked, but it will be penalized as a black hat SEO tactic.
Exchanging the content of a page that has ranked well for lower quality content also infringes on the guidelines. In this, two web pages are used, positioning one with keywords of low competition and irrelevant to the business. When good traffic and a link profile is achieved, it is replaced by the web page with the content that the site owner really wants visitors to see. For users, this unethical practice is a bad experience.
Another example of black hat SEO practices affecting content quality is the use of invisible keywords. There are several ways to hide the text. For example, by matching the font color to the background color of the page. Or by applying size “0” to the typography or by hiding text under images. The purpose of this is to insert relevant words for search engines to help positioning. It is a sanctioned action because the user will not actually receive the information that has been indexed.
Links are a fundamental factor for SEO positioning, which is why they have always been a focal point in black hat SEO. Practices that are discouraged include link buying, private blog networks (PBNs) and link farms. Google’s guidelines expressly prohibit the buying and selling of links, warning that both the buyer and seller will be penalized.
PBNs are web addresses that exist solely to multiply links to a promoted site. They are considered a black hat SEO tactic because such sites aim to control the search engine and do not provide value to users. To apply this, expired domains that had achieved a certain authority are bought. The new owners remake the original content, adding links to their main website. The volume of backlinks generated by this group of sites artificially boosts the ranking of the linked site.
Link farms essentially operate in the same manner. Only in this case, they are public networks that are not controlled by a single owner. They are addresses created for the purpose of marketing links to other websites with little or no value.
Why should you avoid black hat SEO?
Now that you have answered your question as to what black hat SEO is, review your site to make sure it is 100% free of these practices. Even if you or your visitors unintentionally used any of these practices, you can still be penalized. For example, if a user uses the comments section of your site to link to other pages. In this situation, it is recommended that you install reCAPTCHA tools to filter visitor-generated content.
Remember that although black hat SEO may temporarily boost your rankings, your efforts will have been worthless in the long run. Moreover, your site may get blocked by search engines.
If you really want to grow your business and increase your visibility, focus on providing a good user experience. Quality content that responds to your audience’s interests and needs is the best strategy for achieving a high ranking in search engines. Content strategy consulting services can help you optimize your site and improve rankings, without risking your reputation.
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