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10 black hat SEO techniques you need to be cautious of

Guide
by James Holloway Agency Partnership Director

When it comes to SEO (“Search Engine Optimisation”), there is the right way (also known as “White Hat SEO”) and there is the wrong way (“Black Hat SEO”). Both of these set out to achieve the same goal, but black hat SEO techniques tend to cut corners to manipulate the way that search engines perceive the relevance of a page. This, more often than not, results in negative consequences for your website such as blacklisting or reduced rankings (which is essentially the opposite of what you set out to achieve).

SEO is the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of organic traffic to your website by improving your search engine rankings. There are multiple elements to this including the words and content on your site, outbound and inbound links, and structure. With search engines being the primary method of navigating for users looking to find information, there is a huge amount of potential, high-quality traffic to unlock.

 

Here we will go through some common black hat techniques that you need to be cautious of when hiring an SEO company or professional.

 

Cloaking

This refers to the practice of presenting the search engine with one set of content and the human visitor with another, essentially tricking people into clicking through to content that is irrelevant to what they are searching for.

Keyword Stuffing

Repeating keywords within text to the point where it doesn’t make sense. This could be in the main body of your web pages, the header/footer, picture alt tags, or even the comments.

Unrelated Keywords

Adding irrelevant keywords to increase page hits. While this might initially increase traffic due to it targeting people that are searching for different things, they are likely to immediately leave the page due to the content being completely irrelevant to what they had searched.

Link Farms

These consist of a number of sites that link to each other for the sole purpose of ranking higher. These usually involve linking to/from sites that are low quality or unrelated to your own website’s content.

Hidden Text

This technique of hiding text (usually containing keywords or links) by making the font the same colour as the background. While it may seem a smart way of adding extra links or content invisible to the human eye, search engines have become good at detecting these.

Spam Blogs

Spam blogs can be created using software that generates random text mixed in with keyword phrases. These are incoherent to the reader as a way to get visitors to click on ads.

Comment Spam

This is a commonly used technique of posting links as comments on blogs to increase the amount of inbound links, but will often result in being flagged as spam.

Gateway Pages

These are pages build solely to rank highly in search engines usually containing a high keyword density. These are often nonsensical and poorly designed and immediately redirect the visitor to a separate (potentially unrelated) page.

Duplicate Content

This is pretty self-explanatory, either being copied content within your own site or copied content from another site. Duplicate content can result in major penalties even if you are genuinely quoting another source for your news section. Make sure each page has original, relevant content. If you need to quote, do so in small chunks with references and more original content surrounding it.

URL Hijacking

This is a technique used to intentionally mislead visitors by using a domain that is a misspelled or slight deviation from a popular website or competitor to draw in additional traffic. These visitors will be of low quality and have a high bounce rate.