Trick or Treat: Spooky Black Hat SEO Tactics You Should Avoid

Halloween is among us. And while many digital marketing ghouls and goblins are handing out tricks in the form of black hat SEO tactics, we’ll be providing the treats! Learn about black hat SEO and why you should avoid these bad methods of increasing your rankings.

What Is Black Hat SEO?

Black hat SEO is simply by-any-means-necessary SEO. Everyone’s goal is to improve your website’s rankings, but black hat SEO works through methods that violate a search engine’s terms of service. Black hatters attempt to boost pages that provide little to no value to readers. These unethical, naughty, trickstery marketers are merely looking to impress the Google Bots—as opposed to helping Internet users.

Black hat SEO tactics can sometimes be successful in the short-term, but Google is always watching. They will catch you, and they will blacklist your site.

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How does Google deter black hat SEO?

When Google penalizes a spammy or malicious site, they often put it on their blacklist, meaning, they remove your website from their index. This takes your site off Google search results pages. When this happens, you lose a ton of organic traffic, and thus, potential conversions.

We all know Google is the god of all the Internet, so why get on their bad side? If you’re not on Google, no one can find your business. And we don’t want that.

Black Hat Tactics You Should Be Afraid of

Keyword stuffing where they don’t belong

There are many bad SEO methods you should avoid in your marketing. The first (and most common) is keyword stuffing. This is the technique of overusing keywords so much that it can make your content unreadable. Also, keyword stuffing can include adding keywords that aren’t relevant to your industry.

SEO-ers may be tempted to add target keywords as many places as possible; however, keyword density (or the amount of times a keyword pops up in a piece of content) is not the only ranking factor. People should be able to read your content (and the keywords in it) naturally. It should make sense. You confuse and annoy your readers when there are too many awkward keywords thrown in just for the sake of putting them on the page. Take this as an example:

Visit our pet supply store in Las Vegas for all your pet supply needs. Our pet supply store in Las Vegas offers the best products for pet supply. The best pet supply store in Las Vegas sells pet food for various animals, pet clothing, and more. Stop by our pet supply store in Las Vegas today!

See how annoying that was to read? Although “pet supply store in Las Vegas” shows up many times in this content, it probably won’t rank in Google because it offers readers no value.

Ghosted (or hidden) text

Another one of the worst black hat SEO tactics is stuffing keywords on your web pages through hidden text. This tactic incorporates extra (and often unnecessary or irrelevant) keywords on a page to improve rankings. The idea is to make keywords and links only visible to the search engines, and not Internet users.

Black hat SEO-ers will apply some of the following changes to hide stuffed keywords and links:

  • Setting the font size to zero
  • Making the font color white on a white background
  • Making the text appear off-screen
  • Hiding a link behind a single character, like a period or other punctuation

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Buying links

Most digital marketers know that Google will give your site more authority when you have more backlinks, or inbound links leading to your site. However, Google wants those links to be organic, natural, and relevant to your industry. If too many links are leading to your site (often links that are bought), and they’re coming from pages that have nothing to do with your industry, they’ll catch on to your trickery.

Do not buy links. Instead, create a link-building strategy in which you partner with other influencers in your industry. Do it the right way for the sake of your audience who actually want to read valuable, relevant content.

Wearing an SEO disguise

Cloaking and article spinning are two more black hat SEO tactics that tricksters use to get pages to rank higher. Cloaking involves coding a page to show keyword-stuffed content to search engines, and show users readable content.

Article spinning uses software to take one article and rewrite it into many different articles, for the purpose of adding new content to the site. These “spun” articles are often poorly written and don’t offer any new valuable content to readers.

Any type of spam in general

On Halloween, no one likes that cruddy teenager who throws eggs at your house or teepees the tree in your front yard. Neither do Internet users appreciate spam. When you shoot out links in social media messages and comments or blog comments, people get annoyed. And Google will catch on to that as well. Don’t throw links at people just to get them to your site. Strategize where you distribute your links; put them in places where they’re wanted.

Choose a Treat This Halloween with White Hat SEO

What is white hat SEO, you ask? Well, it’s everything that black hat SEO isn’t. White hat SEO is what our Las Vegas SEO company does every day. It’s the tried and true, genuine efforts to grow a company’s web presence. It’s hard work, dedication—and knowledge!

Here are some tips on how to do SEO—the right way.

  • Strategize backlink acquisition. The most authoritative links are those achieved organically.
  • Provide users with valuable content and distribute it wisely. This will help you gain authority organically.
  • If other sites link to a page of yours, optimize that opportunity. Link from that popular page out to other pages on your site that are related and also useful to read.

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