Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO for short, boosts your webpage ranking by using certain keywords and phrases in your content. These keywords have to be relevant to what people are searching for in your industry and this is a popular marketing tactic among small business owners, content marketing agencies and e-commerce stores. Although seemingly complex, SEO is pretty straightforward when done right, granted that you follow best practices.
Getting results through SEO takes time and careful planning. You need to take your time with content creation so you always deliver relevant stuff. SEO tactics work particularly well when combined with smart business intelligence (BI) tools. This takes time but the rewards are worth it.
Unfortunately, most people don’t have the patience to wait for SEO methods to pay off in the long run. Instead, they look for shortcuts they can use to get quick wins. This drives them to the discovery of “Black Hat SEO” practices. These types of SEO practices can get you in real trouble if you get caught but they deliver fast results so most people are willing to take the risk.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black Hat SEO refers to unethical SEO tactics that are designed to trick search engines like Google into awarding top rankings to websites that don’t really deserve to be on the top page rankings. Most people opt for this method to boost time-sensitive promotions or to get around the hurdles of organic SEO practices. It’s an illegitimate way of generating traffic for a website but it doesn’t always deliver positive results.
Some of the most popular Black Hat SEO practices to look out for include sneaky redirects, keyword cloaking and keyword stuffing. The latter technique involves filling your content with unrelated keywords or using the same keywords over and over again in an effort to get higher rankings.
On the other hand, cloaking is a similar practice that involves showing your readers a different type of content that the one shown to search engines. Sneaky redirects are when you “redirect” users to a different Uniform Resource Locator (URL) than the one they initially clicked on. The key is to generate as much traffic as possible for a completely unrelated web address. We’ve all experienced one or a combination of these practices online and clicked away from the offending website as quickly as we clicked on it.
Other relatively easy techniques include incorporating invisible keywords to a particular webpage or copying and pasting another website’s original content so you can pass it off as your own when you publish it. This is done by mimicking the background colour and design of the target website in order to temporarily increase rankings.
Other Black Hat SEO tactics worth noting include redirecting visitors away from a webpage they clicked on to a completely unrelated website; adding spam comments with website links to relevant forums; and adding paid links onto the existing content of certain websites.
Penalties You Can Suffer from When Using Black Hat SEO
At first glance, Black Hat SEO tactics seem clever and enticing but they can significantly hurt website rankings if you get caught by the search engines. You could get away with a slap on the wrist punishment like getting a lower search engine ranking, while the worst case scenario would be your website getting de-listed. Although the first punishment isn’t as severe as the latter, it could still hurt the long-term success of your website and devalue its search ranking relevance.
You could lose traffic, lose business, suffer bad PR, and get de-indexed on search engines or even face heavy penalties. Black Hat SEO will only work for a short period of time and it’s not a strategy you should adopt if you’re looking for long-term benefits. It takes more money, time and resources to rebuild your reputation after you’ve messed up than it would be to build organic traffic through legitimate strategies.
While you’re busy recovering from the damage, it’ll take a significantly long time to rank high in web searches again and you’ll bet that search engines will be watching you like a hawk. You’ll experience lower customer engagement than ever before and you might even lose sales and income.
This can be a huge blow for startups or small businesses that rely on a positive web presence to generate sales. But, interestingly enough, even Fortune 500 companies use Black Hat SEO practices.
As you can see, the risks associated with Black Hat SEO practices are far greater than the purported rewards. That’s why it’s best to only use legitimate SEO practices and only work with trustworthy SEO consultants and/or agencies. Sure, it might cost you more to do so but it’ll pay off in the long-run.