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Black Hat SEO: The Dangers of Cheating the System

6 minutes of reading
Black Hat SEO: The Dangers of Cheating the System
Category SEO

Navigating the web is becoming more and more demanding, especially for website owners. The dynamic development of technology and updates of subsequent algorithms make SEO tactics an endless process. Some people try to take a shortcut , but it never ends well. So what is Black Hat SEO and how to protect against it?


What is Black Hat SEO?

Black hat SEO is about depositioning websites by using methods that seem to yield results quickly, but carry significant consequences in search engine rankings. It uses deceptive and manipulative techniques to create higher page ranks, usually taking a few weeks or months at most. These quick gains are often only temporary and sometimes come with hefty price tags.

What are the consequences?

Fortunately, Google knows when you’re trying to game its algorithm, and it will penalize your site in search rankings as a result. This is called being depositioned in Google-speak and we can say about two main types of penalties on us for non-compliant methods:

  • Filters are penalties imposed for a specific period of time – from a month to even several years. Its application results in a decrease in the ranking up to 70 positions. The main reasons for penalties are unnatural growth of external links, spam, improperly appropriate anchor texts or misuse of keywords.
  • Bans are much more serious because they are imposed on the content of the domain. The penalty is as long as the filter, and in extreme cases the page may even be removed from the index. In this way, hiding the text, linking, inappropriate redirections or extorting money from users is punished.

What is more, there are manual penalties imposed by Google employees. The website owner is then informed of the incident, and in some cases receives a package of tips on what needs to be fixed. In a worse case, a penalty is imposed by the algorithm. The site is then suspended and the owner receives no information beforehand.

Black Hat SEO Practices

Depositioning your site’s performance with bad practices isn’t a sustainable way to gain traction, but it is an effective strategy to drive traffic in a moment—until Google catches up. Using these techniques will not only hurt your brand reputation but also have lasting effects on your business’ credibility, because a one and done type approach is only effective for short-term gains.

Keyword stuffing

Everyone knows that keywords are the basis of optimization. So many people are tempted to use as many of them as possible. Unfortunately, as a result, the content is overloaded with words that are not related to each other. The whole thing becomes unnatural and impossible to read. Robots and algorithms will find content in which keywords have been abused right away.

Low-quality content

The content follows the keywords. Bill Gates called “Content is King” for a reason. We are talking here about all practices of copying content, using plagiarism, abuse of synonyms, creating too short texts or stylistic and substantive mistakes. For Google, the user experience is the most important thing, so you need to make some effort.

Hidden content

Some website owners try to trick the algorithms by creating two versions of one page. One for Internet users, the other for indexing robots. The site for robots is crammed with keywords. It also happens that webmasters hide certain content by placing it in a background color, reducing the font size to 0, or hiding links off the screen. Unfortunately, everything on the website should be visible to everyone in the same way, so penalties are also imposed for such practices.

Fake linking

This is one of the most common penalty issues. On the one hand, it is about link exchange, i.e. any attempts to obtain valuable links by buying or exchanging with other parties on a large scale. On the other hand, they are link farms built solely for the purpose of acquiring links, regardless of their value.

Hidden redirects 301

Sometimes there is an attempt to manipulate the ranking. The user then, after selecting the page he is interested in, goes to a completely different place. Most of them are spam websites that can attack (hack) the computer or lead the user to forbidden places on the network.

How do you avoid using black hat techniques?

It’s easy to use black hat techniques if you don’t think too much about them. Ultimately, they are based on deception, but in many cases they aren’t obviously deceptive and may be used to gain rankings for genuinely high-quality content. It isn’t always clear where black hat ends and white hat begins.

  1. The best and recommended step is to enlist the help of a specialist as you may find yourself targeted by hacking. In this case, it is difficult to deal with all the negative effects of negative SEO on your own.
  2. On the other hand, it is worth focusing on prevention. Track the functioning of your website, check external links leading to your website.
  3. Be sure to remove harmful links that reduce quality and have nothing to do with your business.
  4. Make sure your website is in sync with your social media profiles to constantly build your authority.
  5. Remember that original content is your guarantee of originality.
  6. Monitor anchors in links. If you find one that doesn’t relate to your industry, it could mean you’ve been attacked.
  7. Also check for false reviews and mentions of your website. Report them to the search engine support immediately.

Can you recover from black hat techniques?

It is possible to recover from black hat techniques such as keyword stuffing and over optimization, but it will take a significant amount of time, money and effort. It’s important to be honest with yourself before you decide to commit to a black hat technique. If you aren’t willing to wait for results, or spend money on your SEO efforts, then don’t use black hat techniques. When you are trying to build a successful business online, there is no room for shortcuts. You need to earn every visitor through hard work and dedication.

Should you consider consulting an expert?

A good idea, particularly if you don’t have a background in search engine optimization. Black hat SEO is extremely risky and can get your site banned from Google. And it may not work anyway—once Google catches on to these sorts of tricks, they’ll adjust their algorithms to ensure that such sites won’t rise to the top anymore.

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Whether you’re a brand looking to increase your reputation in order to win over new customers or an individual trying to build credibility in your field, using Black Hat tactics can do more harm than good. Sticking with white hat methods will always yield better results, so spend some time learning about how search engines work and stick with their guidelines. You won’t regret it!

Aleksandra Pietrzak
Curator at the National Museum in Poznań, graduate of Art History at the Jagiellonian University and Contemporary Art at the Pedagogical University of Krakow, curator of exhibitions and author of scientific and popular texts. A lover of contemporary art, literature and travel.
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