If you have a website and you want to do well on the internet, you need to understand the importance of SEO. SEO is an acronym for search engine optimisation. So, what is SEO? It is the method of increasing the quality and quantity of visitors to your website through organic search results. Typically, SEO is divided into two main categories – white hat SEO and black hat SEO.
While white hat SEO is the right way of doing things from the SEO perspective, black hat SEO is just the opposite. White hat SEO uses legitimate ways to rank for keywords that are relevant to its content. But black hat SEO practices are designed only to entice the search engines, without any meaningful consideration for humans.
Using black hat SEO to help a website rank higher on Google might help you in the short term, but in the long run, you stand to lose a lot. If you follow black hat SEO, your website can be penalised.
Some people might want to follow black hat SEO, but many times, websites don’t even know that they are suffering from black hat SEO optimisation.
So, how can you avoid black hat SEO?
Here are five signs of black hat SEO that you need to avoid so that you can consistently do well on search engines like Google.
Google takes into account link popularity to rank websites. The more websites with better domain authority link to your site, the more weight Google attaches to your website.
According to Google, a paid link is one that is bought either with money or goods. Google these days is doing a lot to close down the link farms and paid links. You don’t need SEO tools to find if a website is buying links.
Take a closer look at the page. Look at the hyperlinked text or the anchor text on the page. If you find the text to be random and there is no connection with the link, it is a bought link. You also need to find out the number of links on a page. If there are too many randomly linked texts, it means the links have been bought.
For a detailed search, you can use SEO tools to spot the paid links. You can create a full link profile for your website or others. You can get to know how many backlinks are there on the website and from where they originate.
Usually, links are bought in bulk. In case a website has too many backlinks from blogs or sites with little or no authority, it means some of those links are bought.
Keyword stuffing is when keywords are used repeatedly, at times without rhyme or reason, only to make a website rank higher in Google search.
One of the most common black hat SEO techniques, it is not easy to identify because Google keeps changing its definition of how many times a keyword should be used in the text.
If you want to identify keyword stuffing, you should look for keyword stuffing in places like title, introduction, and meta description. Also, if keywords appear at irrelevant places or they are used many times, it means there is keyword stuffing on the page.
To avoid keyword stuffing, you need to be careful while using your keywords. Use your keywords judiciously, in places where it is necessary to use, and don’t use keywords only to increase its number. You should also discuss the optimum keyword strategy with your SEO analyst or your SEO services company.
Invisible texts and links
To manipulate Google’s search rankings, if you purposely try to hide texts and links, then it is a wrong SEO practice. Invisible texts and links for link building purposes can happen in different ways. There are several ways of hiding a text (for example, excessive keywords), and some of these are:
Placing text behind an image
Keeping the text font the same as that of the background
Keeping the font size 0
Using CSS to place text off-screen
Making an invisible link by only linking one small character in a sentence (for example, use of hyphen in the middle of a sentence)
Using invisible texts and links is an old practice, but novices still seem to use it.
But you need to know that all invisible texts and links are not bad for your website. It is perfectly fine to use a script for Java or code for Flash files, or descriptive image alt description. Using a script for Java or code for Flash files can not harm your website in any way; it can only improve the overall experience of your website.
A content that appears on multiple sites is called copied content. Someone may also steal the content from other places (read URL’s). Search engines find it difficult to look for original content from all the copied ones to show the most relevant information. And Google, which shows all original content in SERPs, can’t show duplicate content because it cannot offer its users irrelevant information.
Earlier, copied content would not damage your site too much, but that is not the case anymore. These days, copied content can significantly hinder your rankings. Also, Google can penalise your site for copied content.
The best way to avoid duplicate content is to use the citation for the information you collect from other places. You can also check your content for plagiarism before submitting it online.
Clickbait is a misleading and attention-grabbing headline that is written only to make people click on it. In such cases, the headline does not match the content on the site – the headline says something else, and the content has things that are different.
For example, “Urgent! You need to check this out….”, “Vital news about….”, Shocking! You won’t believe it…., etc. These are generally expressions to lure people so that they click the headline. If you follow this misleading technique, it can reduce your CTR, and harm your website in the long run.
People using clickbait are the ones who want to make money through the number of clicks (for example, tabloids widely use this technique).
Why is black hat controversial?
The simple reason why the black hat is controversial is that it goes against the guidelines of Google Webmaster. If you follow the black hat SEO practices, Google can penalise your site, and your website can go off its algorithm radar overnight.
While white hat SEO techniques are legitimate, using black hat SEO is unethical and wrong.
Hence, if you have a website on the internet, you need to know things about black hat SEO. And, if you are an SEO services company, then you must inform your client/s about the risks that are associated with black hat SEO techniques.
Black hat SEO is also considered controversial because some confuse black hats with hackers. While black hats do break the rule laid down by Google, but they certainly don’t break the law, as most of the hackers do.
All black hats do is use a different set of SEO techniques to rank their site, which is against the rules of Google. But this does not amount to any breach of the law of the land.
Some people do use SEO and hacking to attack their competitors and promote sites, but that is a different story altogether. It surely does not amount to a black hat SEO technique.
Due to the risks involved, using black hat SEO is wrong, and people do get criticised for it, but there are occasions when you might have to use these techniques over white hat SEO.
For example, if a client comes to you, just a few weeks before, for promoting their website for the Christmas holidays. What is it that you can do for this client?
As a white hat SEO, there is nothing much that you can do for this client except to say sorry. It is difficult to make the site rank high in just a few weeks with white hat SEO. But the black hat SEO can help you rank well before the Christmas holidays. A black hat can build a microsite and help you rank well before the Christmas holidays so that you get some share of the holiday pie.
But as mentioned earlier, using black hat SEO can harm your site in the long run. Hence, it is always advisable to follow the correct practices and use white hat SEO.
In case you want to make your website more visible, you should get in touch with vStacks Software Solutions now. We are a digital marketing company specialising in SEO, and we know how to do it the right way.