Getting your business to rank on Google and other search engines is a crucial piece of the digital marketing puzzle. Everyone wants to see their business in those coveted first few organic spots on the SERPs, but there’s a right and wrong way to get there— “Black Hat” SEO techniques being very much the latter.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black Hat SEO is the practice of using shady, unethical tactics to try to get your website to rank as high as possible on search engine results pages.
When you employ Black Hat SEO techniques, you essentially try to cheat search engine algorithms and exploit sneaky loopholes to get websites to rank higher, rather than put in the time and skill to use authentic SEO strategies and create content that is genuinely helpful for your audience.
Most Black Hat SEO strategies have been openly denounced on Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines, indicating to users that the use of these strategies is directly against their terms of service. Plus, since search engine algorithms are continually updated to pick up on these outdated practices faster than ever, and using them can actually cause harm to your rankings and organic traffic rather than help them.
What is White Hat SEO?
On the other hand, “White Hat” SEO is the exact opposite— it simply means following the rules as practices as they’ve been laid out by Google, Bing, and other search engines. If you’ve hired an agency to handle your SEO, White Hat SEO is what they should continually be doing for you.
Common Black Hat SEO Techniques:
So, how do you know if the SEO strategies you or your agency has been using on your businesses website are Black Hat or White Hat strategies?
Here are a few strategies to avoid:
Strategy #1: Keyword stuffing
Keyword stuffing is exactly what it sounds like— stuffing the content on your website with as many keywords as possible, or repeating the same keyword so often that your content starts to sound unnatural. People tend to think that injecting your keywords in as many places as possible within your website’s content will get it to magically rank, but that’s just not the case anymore.
Do This Instead: Create content for users, not for search engine algorithms. If your content is genuinely helpful, answers your audience’s questions, and/or provides in-depth information on your area of expertise, search engines will recognize that and reward you accordingly. It’s totally fine (and encouraged) to use keywords in your website’s content, just don’t overdo it!
Strategy #2: Hidden Text
Hidden text is either a block of text or a list of keywords that’s hidden from users on a website’s page, but is still crawlable by search engines. In the past, people have hidden text by changing the text color to be the same page as the background color, hiding it behind an image on the page, etc.
Do This Instead: If you want your website to rank for a list of keywords, simply incorporate them naturally within your on-site content and/or within your website’s metadata. If you don’t feel like your keywords are incorporated enough while you’re reviewing your website, try to pick out places where you can elaborate or include more information without being redundant.
Strategy #3: Buying Backlinks
A backlink, sometimes referred to as an inbound link, is created when one website links to another. When your website receives backlinks from other websites that have high domain authority on search engines, it can give your website a boost in the algorithm.
The only problem? Backlinks are sometimes tricky to obtain organically.
That’s why people sometimes resort to purchasing backlinks from third party websites. They think they’re getting a leg up in the eyes of the search engine algorithms, but in reality, what they’re actually getting is an influx of spammy links from irrelevant websites.
Do This Instead: If you want people to link to your website, you need something on your website that’s worth linking to. Focus on creating content that answers a frequently asked question or does a great job at thoroughly explaining a topic. After that, you can start to reach out to other websites to ask if they might be willing to link to your resource.
To learn more about Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO, or about how the team at PCG Digital can help manage your SEO with effective strategies that adhere to search engine guidelines, contact us today!