Why Blackhat SEO is Never the Answer
Although it should be obvious that unethical or black hat SEO tactics should never be used to improve the visibility of websites, many business decision-makers resort to such search engine optimization strategies. Some owners, managers and marketers don’t realize that they’re breaking any rules set by search engine companies and other entities. Some people think that failing to act appropriately based on business netiquette standards isn’t wrong. Whatever your current beliefs regarding unethical search engine optimization, consider the following.
What Are Black Hat SEO Tactics?
Essentially, black hat SEO is when a business or individual manipulates search engines via unethical means. Sometimes, experts refer to unethical SEO as spamdexing because the website owner spams search engines with the intent of tricking algorithms into raising the rank of their web pages and tricking users into clicking specific URLs.
One of the oldest black hat techniques is overloading or stuffing page content with keywords that their visitors commonly look up. For example, you might repeat the same commonly searched phrase related to your business in a blog post even if the repetition makes the content unreadable. You might also use commonly searched keywords that are unrelated to your business. Spamdexing also involves setting up a page with specific content designed to rank the page higher and then altering all of the content to something completely different after the search engines finish ranking it.
Certain actions a business owner takes when linking to other sites can also be unethical. For example, some black hat SEO practitioners link to sites that feature content that ranks high in searches but is completely unrelated to their own websites and businesses. They also post spam in comments below news articles and blog posts and in popular industry-related and non-related forums.
Other unethical practices include copying high-ranked content from other websites and posting it as your own, overloading pages with ads to create accidental pay-per-click opportunities, automatically redirecting visitors to unrelated or phishing sites and using false or unrelated meta data or a domain name to cloak the real nature of your site.
What Are White Hat SEO Tactics?
Business owners and others who use white hat tactics still want to control how search algorithms rank their sites, but they don’t resort to unethical or illegal methods to get search engines to notice them. They avoid any appearance of spamminess by focusing on their audience instead of the search engines, using relevant keywords in their content and not stuffing keywords to create unclear, nonsensical content to generate site traffic. They also focus on presenting engaging, positive content related to their industry that they know members of their target market consider useful in a clear, easy-to-read format.
White hat SEO practitioners also use appropriate embedded links that relate to their business or content. They never resort to making inaccurate statements about their products or services. They also make certain that their search result URL domain and meta data accurately describes their businesses. If they see something on another website that might interest their audience, they ask for permission to use that content and quote it appropriately. Instead of overloading a page with ads, they pick only a few that they think their visitors might consider interesting or valuable.
If they have partnerships with other businesses and receive affiliate credit for clicked links, they make these relationships clear anywhere that they present the links to the public. Other ethical SEO practices include adding social media share buttons to their content pages rather than trying to trick visitors into sharing and showing their expertise in comments by leaving expert advice or knowledgeable details about a topic and their title and business name instead of spam.
Long-Term Impact of Choosing the Wrong Path
In many cases of business owners and others relying upon sketchy SEO tactics, they incorrectly believe that they won’t be caught or punished for spamming search engines or performing other unethical acts. If a search engine company finds that you have performed black hat SEO tactics, you might initially receive a warning with instructions on how to fix the problem. After this initial contact, if you’re even given that much leeway, the search engine companies then de-indexes the offending sites. This means that any de-indexed domains won’t appear in search results no matter what keywords searchers use, including your domain. Worse yet, given the speed at which rumors and reviews spread across the internet, you can expect your reputation and sales to take a big hit. Before you can even hope to rebuild, you will spend a lot of time and money cleaning up your SEO problems and attempting to convince the companies to put your domain back in their indexes.
Why put yourself through all of the above stress or hassle and risk your reputation when it’s easy to rank high in search results and generate site traffic in a competitive way by simply following white hat SEO strategies? As long as you create content that members of your target audience need or want and offer excellent products and services, you’re guaranteed regular site traffic, positive reviews and word-of-mouth referrals that generate more traffic.
If you’re currently struggling to rank high in search results, try some or all of the ethical outlined strategies. Also, consider other methods that generate traffic outside of search engines, such as scannable website link QR codes on product packaging and shipment inserts, if applicable, and social media contests with links to more information about products and services and special discounts.
Of course, good SEO is always accompanied by good design and branding – be sure to check out our design and web services here!