SEO can be a tricky business. Trying to rank in Google for specific keywords can take time and effort. You need to put in a lot of work to build content and get some solid links under your belt.
With all the effort required to do SEO the right, it’s tempting to bend the rules and try to rank more quickly.
The problem is …cutting corners can cost you. Big time.
If you’re thinking about pushing the envelope and using some black hat SEO techniques, think again.
Keep reading for a closer look at 10 techniques to avoid when doing SEO.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO is the use of search optimization methods that are less than scrupulous and often in violation of many of the search engine’s terms of service.
Most black hat techniques can have very negative long-term consequences but could be quite helpful in the more immediate future.
The term “black hat” is actually a reference to old western films and TV shows where the bad guys wore black hats and the good guys white. So, good SEO techniques are often referred to as white hat SEO.
What’s Wrong with Black Hat SEO?
Some turn to black hat methods as a way to try and game the system, making short-term wins to get a site ranked quickly. But it’s not worth it.
Black hat methods typically make a website very friendly to the search robots, but not so much to humans. Since websites, ultimately, are for humans, one that’s been tweaked with black hat SEO isn’t all that useful.
The search engine’s goal is to serve up the most useful content to searchers, not the most search engine friendly.
Black Hat SEO Techniques to Avoid
1. Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is one of the oldest tricks in the black hat SEO book.
This method involves cramming as many keywords as possible into a page with little regard for readability or usefulness.
It seems reasonable to assume that placing the same keyword in a single page dozens of times will help it rank well. But poorly written repetitive content is rarely useful to readers.
If you want to rank for a keyword or phrase, use it naturally a few times and focus on making your content relevant and useful.
2. Buying Links
Another black hat tactic is the practice of buying links. As you may have guessed, this method involves paying another site for backlinks.
Since most sites that participate in this kind of thing don’t provide the best backlinks, it’s best to stick with acquiring links the right way.
This sneaky method involves creating one set of content for search engines and another for actual visitors.
While cloaking might make the search engines think your content is super useful, it directly violates search engine guidelines that state content should be developed for actual users.
4. Link Exchanges
Similar to link buying, link exchanges are a way for websites to get lots of backlinks quickly and with little to no effort.
This method worked very well in the early days of search engine optimization. But, given that this practice isn’t particularly useful to humans, the search providers have since cracked down on it.
Stay away from shady link exchanges and stick to picking up backlinks the right way.
5. Gateway Pages
This technique involves creating a page randomly stuffed with keywords and content to get it ranked quickly. These pages typically quickly redirect users to another page.
Since these pages are quite annoying and essentially useless to users, avoid this practice at all costs.
6. Hidden Text
Another tricky technique, this method involves making text invisible to actual readers, but very much visible to search engines.
Since text can easily be hidden with CSS or other methods, this one is easy to do but very harmful in the long run.
Keep your pages clear and transparent and steer clear of hiding text unless it’s for accessibility purposes.
7. Article Spinning
You need fresh content to rank well in the search engines. Updating your website regularly is absolutely necessary for long-term success.
Since content can be time-consuming and expensive to generate, it’s easy to try and take the easy way out.
Article spinning involves using software to create new variations of existing content. Since these articles are not written by humans, the content is poor and not particularly useful.
It might take more time and effort, but it’s best to stick to creating new, fresh content rather than recycling old stuff.
8. Unrelated Keywords
Another black hat method is the use of keywords that are completely unrelated to your website or business.
While this might help you show up in new, commonly used searches, it’s not overly useful to the people doing the searching.
Try to keep your keyword use relevant to your website’s content.
9. Duplicate Content
This method is another way to try and add more content to your site quickly. But, it can hurt you big time.
Whether it’s copied from your own website or another, duplicate content is a sure-fire way to do real damage to your search performance.
Create new content instead of copying old stuff.
10. Bait and Switch
Bait and switch is the practice of obtaining links to your website and then bombarding visitors with ads for your products or services.
While getting links back to your content is great, spamming visitors isn’t particularly useful. Keep your content relevant and useful to visitors from all channels.
Putting It All Together
Taking the easy route is tempting.
Getting more visitors or customers quickly should be any website owner’s goal. But, your goal should be to get it done the right way.
Black hat SEO may have short-term benefits, but it has long-term consequences.
Ready to get SEO done the right way? Get in touch with us today.