5 Black Hat SEO Techniques that Could Hurt Your SEO

The search engine optimization (SEO) industry is a fiercely competitive space. Search engines like Google make minor yet impactful changes to their algorithms every day — in fact, an average of 9 times per day — in an effort to provide high-quality and reliable results to users.

Why It’s Not a Good Idea to Use Black Hat SEO

These regular algorithm updates often make it quite challenging for brands to rank on the coveted first page of search engine results pages (SERPs). As a result, some brands turn to shady SEO practices, otherwise termed as black hat SEO, to “trick” search engine bots to reward them a higher SEO rank than what they deserve.

These deceptive techniques, however, do nothing but hurt your SEO: search engines penalize your site by lowering your ranking, or worse, outright banning your site from SERPs.

Common Black Hat SEO Techniques to Be Aware Of

This is why it’s important for you to be aware of the most common black hat SEO techniques before you unknowingly use them in your SEO strategy and ultimately compromise your rankings:

1. Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing, as the term suggests, involves overusing the same keywords throughout one page — essentially “stuffing” your content with the same keyword in order to maximize its visibility.

Doing so looks unnatural and makes it hard to read and comprehend. Keyword stuffing is a common mistake and may often be unintentional for some brands. This can be easily prevented by writing for your audience and not for search engine bots. You can also use tools like Unamo’s Website Optimization Grader that will analyze your content and detect keyword stuffing.

2. Duplicate Content

Duplicate content means copy-pasting the same exact content, or blocks of content that are very much similar, across different domains. For some, this can be caused by a simple case of neglect; but for others, it’s a sign of manipulation of search engine rankings or a serious offense against copyright.

Search engines prefer unique content for each page, which is why they penalize pages that contain duplicate content. If your brand has multiple pages that run the same content, such in the case of news sites, it’s important to implement canonical tags to indicate the original version of your article. To learn more about best practices for duplicate content, read Google’s comprehensive guide here. You may also use tools like Copyscape to check for possible plagiarism and duplicate content.

3. Clickbait Material / Fake News

Clickbait is a copywriting technique commonly used to attract attention, often sensationalizing or exaggerating a topic, to encourage visitors to click on a link that leads to dubious or irrelevant content.

Some SEO experts claim that clickbait works in your favor if done correctly, but Google and even Facebook are making a continuing effort to battle clickbait, fake news, and disinformation to further improve user experience. The philosophy of search engines is simple: provide relevant and high-quality content to users. Clickbait material is deceiving, which is why it’s best to steer clear of it as much as possible.

4. Cloaking

Cloaking is an SEO method in which there are two different sets of content presented to search engine bots and to human users. It’s often used to trick search engines to get a higher ranking for certain target keywords, but serve irrelevant results to users when they click on the site. This sounds much like clickbait material, but cloaking is a lot more technical: A cloaked site actually shows completely different content to users than what is shown on SERPs.

Sometimes, though, cloaking doesn’t happen deliberately on the part of the site’s owner — it could be hacked. There are also times that cloaking happens when your site uses technologies such as JavaScript, images, or Flash, which search engines have difficulty accessing — thereby showing different content to search engines and users. If this is the case for you, read Google’s recommendation here.

5. Comment Spamming

Comment spamming happens when your website’s blog receive a large volume of “comments” that are usually unrelated promotional links. These spammers do so in an attempt to receive free backlinks, often done manually but more commonly done by automated tools.

Too many irrelevant backlinks in your website could hugely hurt your site’s authority and thereby negatively affecting your SEO rankings. This can be easily combated by disabling open commenting on your blog and implementing comment moderation, including a word verification or CAPTCHA to prevent spamming.

In conclusion

Black hat SEO techniques could be intentional on the part of the site owner, but sometimes it can be used by competitors to attack your site and lower your rankings. Constantly monitoring and detecting these instances is important to keep your brand’s SEO in check.

For more information about SEO, check out our website at https://www.ilfusion.com

Ilfusion Inc. is a full-service creative agency located in Fort Worth, TX with talents in web, design, video, social media and marketing consultation.