Have you ever searched Google for something simple, like for example "free mp3 music" or "free wallpaper" only to find that the top-ranking searches are filled with websites that host misleading contents and designs that ultimately leads you to a site asking for money? It is frustrating to search for one thing and getting results just about the opposite of what you need and wanted.
There is a reason why this happens, and the most of it is because of black hat Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The technique is popular and often regarded as a way to 'abuse' the search engines by seeking their weaknesses.
Black Hat SEO
Black hat SEO is defined as techniques that are used to get higher search rankings by using unethical manners, which are prohibited by search engines or in violation of their Terms of Service. These black hat SEO techniques usually include one or more of the following characteristics:
- Breaks search engine rules and regulations.
- Creates a poor user experience directly because of the black hat SEO techniques utilized on the website.
- Unethically presents content in a different visual or non-visual way to search engine spiders and search engine users.
These techniques generally exploit some hole in a search engine’s algorithm until the algorithm is updated to catch and nullify the exploitation. Most search engines changes their algorithm accordingly.
Spamming and Links
One of the most well-known black hat SEO tactics that has recently fallen out of fashion due to a recent Google update is submitting low quality content to link directories. In exchange for a low quality article, a link directory will give you a link back to your site and help you rank on search engines.
Article Spinning and Scraping
The practice of spinning is similar to spamming duplicate articles for links, except that you use software to rearrange words in hopes that Google will not detect it as duplicate content. Scraping comes in a variety of forms, but usually involves taking bits content from multiple different sites and mixing it all together on one site.
This technique involves cramming keywords into your content to target a specific set of terms in search results. While keyword spamming leads to horrible and unreadable content, they can sometimes rank high for certain searches because their spammed keywords align well with specific searches.
This technique is usually performed after utilizing the techniques above. Once you manage to get a page to dominate a search result, you make that page a “doorway” page in which it redirects traffic to a sales page, sometimes for things completely unrelated to the original search result.
Cloaking essentially tricks the search engines by showing them one version of your site while your users see something completely different. The idea is that if a page isn’t ranking on its own merits, you would stuff a bunch of keywords into the version you send to search engines. This way you will rank higher on search engines, but your content won’t be worse and scare off your current audience.
Why These Techniques Don’t Work
The best reason to avoid black hat SEO methods is that they are short-lived. If you know you are going against the Terms of Service of Google, then you have to realize that whatever work you are putting into this exploitation could easily vanish as soon as Google catches on and changes their algorithm accordingly. Then all of your work is for nothing.
Black hat techniques often directly lead to bad, unreadable content. So even if you happen to win against Google and get to the top of a keyword rank, most people who click on your site will automatically associate it with bad quality and close it immediately. Many people won’t even click on the site if they can tell from the search results page that something is not right. So despite your search rank, you might not even get your desired affiliate commission or even traffic.
And last, black hat techniques make internet users less confident in search engines and the web in general. This hurts all internet marketers, both black hat or white hat.
Google and other notable search engines frequently update their algorithm to anticipate the trends and their markets. When they see a hole where 'black hatters' can exploit, it won't be long until they patch it.