What is Black Hat and how can this strategy harm your site?
Within an increasingly competitive environment, who doesn’t want fast results with big earnings?
Some techniques can even help you achieve these goals, but they may not be the most appropriate for reasons such as a lack of ethics, poor long-term performance, and quality.
One of them is Black Hat SEO, which is also a set of techniques to optimize a page on search engines but using fairly questionable methods disapproved by Google itself.
Unlike what the best SEO practices indicate, these actions follow exactly the opposite path.
Check out our complete article on the subject and make sure you do not use any of these practices in the future. Read on to find out:
- What is Black Hat SEO?
- What is the difference between White, Grey, and Black Hat SEO?
- Why shouldn’t you use Black Hat?
- How does Google penalize Black Hat SEO?
- What are the main techniques used?
- 3 alternatives to Black Hat SEO that really generate results
What is Black Hat SEO?
SEO techniques are widely used to generate organic traffic and achieve a better position in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
However, there are more questionable ways — and less effective in the long run — of achieving this.
One of them is Black Hat SEO: a set of actions to fool Google’s algorithms in search of a better ranking.
Just like the use of correct keywords, the increase in the authority of a page, and efficient link building make a page stand out among the first results on a search engine, some people started to cheat this system and adopt ethically questionable practices in pursuit of the same goal.
Black Hat SEO practices go in the opposite direction from what Google recommends, particularly in terms of quality content and positive user experience.
These techniques aim exclusively at the top of a search result, paying any price to put your pages in the first positions, with little or no planning.
Black Hat SEO represents any action aimed at manipulating the rules and best practices stipulated by Google (or even Bing) in search of a better ranking.
The results can be relevant and often come fast, but the price to pay is high and can definitely damage your marketing efforts.
What is the difference between White, Grey, and Black Hat SEO?
Now that you know what Black Hat is, but maybe you haven’t understood the reason for that name yet, right?
It references the old western movies, where the bad guys were usually identified by the color of their hat, while the “good guys” used the accessory in white.
However, this idea was not restricted to the colorless films of the past and is also used within Digital Marketing. Therefore, besides Black Hat SEO, there are also White Hat and Grey Hat.
The first term you already know, but let’s learn more about the other two.
White Hat SEO
Practices that seek to optimize a page’s performance according to Google guidelines and rules are considered White Hat SEO.
That is, those that put the user first, producing relevant content in blogs, engaging in social media, and even adopting a responsive design.
The White Hat is, therefore, one of the “good guys” who try to improve the performance and ranking of their pages appropriately, following the rules of the game and not harming any of their competitors.
They do that simply by offering the best possible user experience within their marketing plan.
Grey Hat SEO
Have you ever heard of the expression grey zone? It happens when a situation or a certain action is not expressly bad or good, but it is something dubious.
Grey Hat SEO, therefore, happens when practice for performance optimization is not considered good, but it cannot be defined as bad either.
It represents a process that usually follows the best SEO practices, but ends up using Black Hat techniques in specific situations to search for some faster result.
Very common, for example, when we talk about sending email marketing without permission or comments in posts aimed at link building.
Why shouldn’t you use Black Hat?
The first reason for not using Black Hat SEO within your Content Marketing strategy is simple: you are not thinking about the user; that is, you are not producing relevant material for your buyer persona.
This way, you end up being unfair to those you want to convince to become your consumer.
Besides, you are also not being honest with your competitors. Of course, everybody is fighting for the attention and resources of the user.
However, it is necessary to play clean and surpass the other competitors with honest techniques and, mainly, offer superior service and/or product to the potential client.
Black Hat SEO can generate returns quickly, putting, for example, your brand among the first results in a search page, but it does not do this by offering relevant content to the users.
This directly affects the timeline: it works in the short term and has little relevance in the medium and long term.
Therefore, it becomes unfeasible to plan solid actions aiming, for example, at customer loyalty.
You can even generate more traffic, attracting visitors using your position. However, you can’t build a solid relationship with those who tend not to continue on a page after realizing that the content is not relevant.
Consequently, the bounce rate is likely to increase. Think about the following example: you click on a page precisely because it appears among the first results.
You access it and come across repeated keywords and irrelevant or unattractive content. What do you do? You leave the site immediately.
Another important point to remember when we talk about reasons not to wear the Black Hat in search of a better ranking is Google.
Yes, the most popular search engine in the world does not approve of this type of practice, and, when it identifies it, all your Digital Marketing planning and actions can be damaged at once.
How does Google penalize Black Hat SEO?
The sanctions that can be applied by Google vary in terms of weight. However, the penalties usually imply a drop in ranking, reduction of PageRank score, decrease in organic search traffic, and restriction in positioning new content and publications.
In addition to the punishments, there is also the possibility of banning.
To make it even easier to understand how Google acts in these cases and how the feared “manual actions” work, check out the Google Webmasters video:
If you have suffered any punishment that you consider unfair, the only alternative will be to optimize the site with quality content and pay attention to its changes.
This way, Google will remove the page from its list, considering that you do not normally use Black Hat practices since it considers the website as a whole.
That is, if there are not a significant number of irregularities, Google recognizes that it was a mistake and steps back.
Also, the only alternative to reverse a punishment is to try to identify the problems and immediately correct them.
What are the main techniques used?
The first step in avoiding a practice or action is to understand it. That’s why we’ve separated the main techniques of Black Hat SEO so that you know exactly what you shouldn’t do in your page optimization work. Keep reading!
These pages are characterized by using optimized keywords only to ensure good positioning. When the victim accesses the page, they are automatically redirected to another page with malicious content.
It is a tactic similar to the one mentioned above, but in this case, the direct target is not the users, but the bots, highlighted in the third topic.
The sites are optimized to present to the indexers a different content from what will be presented to the user. That is, for the search engine, it is something beautiful, and for the users, it is a nuisance; “cute, but ordinary”, one could say.
A structure is formed consisting of the main site — the one that aims to be accessed — and other sites created only to direct the user to the main site.
For example, besides the main site (A), you create other sites with links that point to the main site (B), sites that point to B (C), and so on.
With this, the traffic generated will always be constant so that the main site is prominent, which weighs heavily on Google’s criteria, making the primary site always get a great position in the ranking.
This strategy consists of making search engines highlight that the page has a certain content, but a completely different one is presented to the user.
There are also cases where a desktop user is directed to a common page, and the mobile user is redirected to a spam page.
These are websites with nothing more than links to other pages. Thus, you create backlinks and can, in theory, increase the relevance of your site. Instead of wasting time doing this, it is much better to produce relevant content and even invest, for example, in guest posts.
In these cases, the keywords used in the optimization are of great relevance, but the content of the page is not suitable.
These keywords range from celebrity names to internet memes.
Identifying this is very simple, as you don’t need to read much of the content to see that the words are simply inserted into the text without the slightest meaning. They are often found in the footers.
Spam in comments
How many times have you seen exhaustive repeated comments on many social media, blogs, or pages?
This serves to generate backlinks automatically, but helps little, for example, in creating authority for a page.
Many people try to evade Google with hidden content, using the font size 0 or in the same background color, making it not appear to the user when accessing the site, but is accounted for by search engines.
Copying content over the Internet, besides being morally questionable, is easily identifiable by Google and punishable if the content from other sites is published on your pages repeatedly.
This technique turns out to be ineffective because the searcher ends up favoring the oldest publication in its ranking.
This option ends up leaving the digital sphere and can be done in the physical world too. Paying for a portal to put your link in content, for example, is seen negatively by Google.
However, it is something more difficult to be detected, but it is possible to analyze the reason for that linkage.
3 alternatives to Black Hat SEO that really generate results
Black Hat SEO can hurt your pages’ performance and, no doubt, that’s not what you want, right?
That’s why we have listed three alternatives to the Black Hat method so that you can fairly generate good results. Check them out!
Mobile access is becoming more common these days, and it is necessary to think about users who access your pages through smartphones and tablets.
Therefore, ensure that your page is mobile-friendly and has a responsive design, which is highly valued by Google.
Creativity in the selection of keywords
Using the correct keywords can also help in your ranking. One tip is to keep an eye on the “related searches” that Google provides at the end of any search.
There, you can identify potential terms to be used on your blog or website, for example.
Invest in Meta Descriptions
It’s not enough to rank well. You have to convince the user to click on your page — and an excellent way to do this is through the meta description.
With it, you have one more chance to show the visitor that your page has the content they are looking for and increase the chances of receiving a click.
Black Hat SEO, therefore, may even generate positive results for a page; however, the quality of what is obtained is far from ideal, not guaranteeing the real efficiency of these achievements.
Besides, these practices can harm your long-term performance and even eliminate your site’s chances of appearing on Google.
One way to ensure you are using the best strategy on your digital approach is keeping up with the SEO trends. Check out this article and learn more about the top 10 SEO trends you need to know!