What is black hat SEO, why you should avoid it and how to spot it
Most people are aware of Black Hat SEO or have at least heard of it at some stage but 90% of people I speak to are not fully aware of how Black Hat SEO actually affects your website and your domain name.
First, I want to explain the difference between a website and a domain name. A website is the content you see (like this text, the images, the buttons on the page etc.) as well as the code that supports all these objects and holds them in place for your viewing. A domain name is the address you click or type into your browser in order to get the information requested (the content).
Definitions for key terms used in SEO
White Hat: Anything ethical and follows the Terms of Service.
Black Hat: Anything unethical and against the Terms of Service.
SEO: Search Engine Optimisation which is the art and science of publishing information and marketing it in a manner that helps search engines understand your information is relevant to relevant search queries. (SEObook.com)
Keyword: A word or phrase which implies a certain mindset or demand that targeted prospects are likely to search for. (SEObook.com)
Cloaking: Displaying different content to search engines and searchers. Depending on the intent of the display discrepancy and the strength of the brand of the person / company cloaking it may be considered reasonable or it may get a site banned from a search engine. (SEObook.com)
Crawler (aka Robot or Spider): Search engine crawlers which search or “spider” the web for pages to include in the index. Many non-traditional search companies have different spiders which perform other applications. For example, TurnItInBot searches for plagiarism. Spiders should obey the robots.txt protocol. (SEObook.com)
Robot.txt: A file which sits in the root of a site and tells search engines which files not to crawl. Some search engines will still list your URLs as URL only listings even if you block them using a robots.txt file. (SEObook.com)
Back links (aka Inbound Link): Link pointing to one website from another website. (SEObook.com)
Bounce Rate: This is how fast someone leaves your website from the point that they land on your website.
So, what happens if you’ve had Black Hat SEO done?
You’ll find that you are not reaching the first page of Google no matter what you try or no matter how much you pay someone to do it. If you’re employing the services of a Black Hat (and may not know) you will see that the reports they show you are great, they have lots of new back links being added and tonnes of movement in Keywords but the traffic isn’t increasing. What if the traffic IS increasing? The best thing to do is to look at the Bounce Rate of the incoming traffic. You should look closely at this statistic along side the stat of Length of Time on Website. These 2 should be improving. You want LESS Bounce Rate (smaller percentage) and MORE time spent on your website. This shows that people are coming to your site and viewing your content, reading your content and browsing your site. If you have a high bounce rate it could be because the traffic being sent your way is expecting a certain type of content but getting yours instead (which could still be good but just not what they came for). The other reason for high bounce rates is bad or non-valuable content. If your content does not add value to the reader they will stop reading and click away.
Common Black Hat SEO Techniques
Cloaking: This is where you have 2 lots of content that are different, one for the users who view your website and another for the crawlers. This creates a Cloaking Issue. Your actual keywords and content are entirely different to the users and the crawlers. This usually will show Google and other Search Engines that you are using unethical Techniques (Black Hat). Your site may be completely banned or the page rank might come down. If you are planning to fool Google, remember they are the creators of Google!!
Paid Links: Although we all do need high quality back links from other websites as this increases your websites popularity and relevancy to a subject in Google. The links can be a one way link, a two way link or even a three way link. Any paid links will not be entertained by Google as it is against the policy.
- * One Way Link is When the link is one sided i.e. incoming or outgoing from one source and not reciprocated.
- * Two Way Link is When there is an exchange of links from both of the sources.
- * Three Way Link is a a link that goes via another service. This can be found with a lot of affiliate links or download links.
Keyword Stuffing: While Keywords are important to place in content in order to rank higher in Search Engines, you have to use it sparingly and smart, definitely not in a ‘spammy’ manner. If you repeat the same word or term too much in one paragraph or even page it will be detected as spam when your website is crawled by the bots. Keywords show the topic(s) your website is about. Without using the same words over again in a ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ way Search Engines would not know what you are talking about or selling and not be able to direct viewers to your website.
Article Spinning: This is a technique where you take some original content and edit it minimally including paraphrasing to form new content. Rewriting an article is seen to be a form of duplication. Google seems to prefer unique/original content. Article spinning will ruin the authenticity of the original content publisher as well. Writing an original content piece requires time and creativity but it is well worth the end result. Google and other Search Engines really appreciate it!
Doorway Pages: These are spam pages created for that exact purpose. They are made to deceive robots from Search Engines into thinking you have more content or more specific content than you do. Have you ever clicked a link and it gone to a page that has NOTHING to do with where you thought you were going? I have and it is annoying and time-wasting. The reason behind Black Hat’s doing this is to increase the traffic to the website but all it does it attract the WRONG reader which defeats the purpose of the page they actually land on and will sooner if not later attract the attention of Google and get penalized.
Link Farming: This is the most harmful and deceiving technique used and will cause the most pain to you in the long run. This is where the Black Hat goes and either creates or pays for spots on websites (usually fake/terrible forums) that link to your website which shows Google that you have more websites pointing to you. This is meant to show Google that your website is popular and worth sending visitors to. It is HIGHLY recommended NOT to use this practice as you will see the negative results in time. This is one of the practices that if not fixed correctly when already done can cause your website to be black listed on Google and other Search Engines. I have had clients with this done and done so bad that they had to create a new domain name completely as it was far beyond repair.
How to fix Black Hat SEO practices already done?
Okay, so if you have fallen victim to some Black Hat SEO, here are some ways to fix issues. I will share some great FREE tools to see if you’ve been affected by Black Hat SEO if you’re not sure. We also offer reporting solutions that will show all of this data which can be generated at anytime by you via your Custom SEO Dashboard. I think if you’ve read this far that you are interested in SEO and getting it done correctly. We supply SEO Services all over the world and have a proven track record.
Bad/Spammy Links: You can disavow links that are showing as spam or bad that direct to your website. You can do that here.
Malware/Virus: In the event that your website has been attacked through a malicious hack, virus, or malware, request for a malware review after you’ve removed the malicious code.
Duplicate/Plagiarized Content: First, check if it is here. If you find that you do have some or a lot of content that is duplicated from other sources the best thing to do is not panic. That’s the first step. What I find best is make a list of the pages that have duplicate content and start up the top. Edit the page and rewrite the entire content in your own words. Once that is done, save it and go to the next page on the list. Keep this going, even if you do one page every day or so, you will create a massive change in Google if you do this.
Keyword Stuffing: If they are blatantly spammed in the text, obviously just delete it. If you read your content and notice that it does not flow clearly but displays a term or keywords way too much, re-write the content so that it flows nicely without the same words spammed throughout it. This is the easiest fix and actually one of the most important.
Increase your SEO practices with White Hat SEO’ers
We here, at Clearun Marketing, are experts with White Hat SEO. White Hat is the ethical SEO practices put into action to increase your websites ranking in Search Engines in your local area as well as nationally and internationally. You can employ our services here. We also offer a FREE Website Analysis, so take advantage of that!
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