Every business owner is looking to get their business noticed on the search engine results page (SERP). There are various SEO tactics that can be used to get a higher ranking for your brand on Google. However, some strategies – called ‘Black Hat’ strategies – manipulate SEO rules which can be considered unethical, and even cause your brand to lose its traffic.
It is important to stay aware of the types of black hat strategies that are used, to ensure that your business can actively avoid being punished by Google.
Some websites have repeated keywords within their content to hack the search engine into thinking that its content is relevant. The actual content itself has little meaning and loads the website with relevant keywords. This can create a poor user experience from the poor quality of content, and cause Google to drop your website’s ranking.
Hidden text and links
Alternative ways to stuff keywords into website content also include changing the colour of the font to be the same as the background, adding text behind images, intentionally positioning text off-screen, setting the font size to be zero or hiding links by adding them to a small character – such as a hyphen or a full stop – so that website viewers cannot see the text and links, but search engine bots can still read it.
Buying or selling websites that rank high on Google’s algorithm already, using excessive link exchanges or using automated programs that create links to your website are all black hat methods intended to manipulate site rankings and make your website look more popular. Good link building strategies should focus on deliberate, selective growth that is planned and carried out with care, as opposed to churning out a large volume of links solely for quantity purposes. Ensure that the links have meaning, and are placed there to add value to your content.
Intentionally providing different content to search engines and website users is called cloaking. While the cloaked website may appear in a search about one topic, the actual content of the website may be about something else entirely. The purpose of the deception is usually to drive traffic and generate advertising revenue from this increased traffic.
Black hat SEO methods should be avoided to prevent your website from being banned from Google and other search engine websites. These measures can be extremely damaging to your rankings and website traffic. Instead, consider focusing on improving content quality, accessibility and relevance which can bring up your website’s rankings organically without risk of permanent bans by Google.