Search Engine Optimization commonly referred to as SEO is one of the driving forces of traffic on your website that, in turn, helps your website grow. However, just like everything else in life, there is a code of ethics to be followed. Deviating from them and resorting to unethical means can turn a potentially good thing bad and the same holds true with SEO.
In this post, we will be covering what is unethical SEO, otherwise known as ‘Black Hat SEO’ the common practices and, ways to avoid it.
According to Wikipedia, “Black Hat SEO follows those techniques of which search engines do not approve.” One of the major reasons website owners resort to black hat SEO is so that their website ranks higher in the search engine results. And instead of the website improving its rankings, it ends up receiving a penalty from the search engines affecting rankings for a much longer-term.
Let us now look at 5 techniques that fall under Black Hat SEO and could adversely affect your website should you resort to them:
- Keyword Stuffing:
Keyword Stuffing in simple words means adding too many keywords to your article, website post or text. Some of these keywords might be relevant, however, a majority of them are plain clutter. Also, the repetitive use of keywords makes the article monotonous and irrelevant.
An example of keyword stuffing. Suppose the keyword is ‘WordPress web hosting’ and, this is the paragraph it is used in; “WordPress web hosting is the best web hosting for your WordPress website. With WordPress web hosting your WordPress website performs well. Also, 99.9% uptime is guaranteed with WordPress web hosting. WordPress web hosting is the best hosting.”This repetitive usage of the keywords can frustrate the reader as it doesn’t add any value to the text written and can simply be cut down. Although it is true adding keywords to your post or metadata increases the chances of improving your search engine rankings if you practice keyword stuffing your rankings will be affected adversely, as stated above.
- Paid Links
Just like internal linking on your website helps search engines rank you better, backlinks also help in the same way. They are one of the easiest ways to know whether your content is doing well on the search engine or not. However, unethical means such as buying or purchasing links can lead to a hefty penalty from search engines.
Google, for instance, has strict rules on this and has banned this practice. As per their link scheme guidelines, “Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”Without resorting to Black Hat SEO practices, you can boost your SEO rankings. Here are some tips you can incorporate.
- Spam Comments on Blog
Spam comments on blogs are those comments that contain a backlink to the commenters website or a product page. At times, if you’re new to blogging you may think what is the harm if the comment talks about the article or is an appreciation post. In that case, the comments can still be considered and might be approved instead of marking them as spam. However, most spam comments have nothing to do with the article and are just trying to get a backlink.
Though this practice has reduced to a considerable extent with Google’s algorithm update aimed to reduce Black Hat SEO practices, as a blog commenter, it is best if you don’t include links in the comments but follow ethical practices of backlinking.
- Misusing Structured Data
Structured data is a type of data that makes your content easily searchable on search engines. It is also known as rich snippets. Structured data helps you gain an edge over your competitors by providing credibility.
However, there are times when websites resort to unfair means of gaining popularity by modifying the content of the structured data in such a manner that it passes of as authentic. This is an example of abused structured data by CognitiveSEO.
If you don’t know how to add structured data, it is best to follow the guidelines provided by Google as it enables your content to be eligible for incorporation in Google search results. Not resorting to Black Hat SEO may seem like tedious and a painstaking process when it comes to being discovered by search engines. However, it is beneficial in the long run.
- Misleading Redirects
We covered Redirection in detail in one of our earlier posts. In simple words, it means when an individual clicks on a link, they are taken to a different URL instead of the one they intended to visit. Usually, redirects are employed when users have changed their URL or have purchased a new domain name. When it comes to Black Hat SEO, the intent of redirection is malicious and, they purposely redirect users to one page and the search engine crawlers to another page.
Misleading redirects have only one intention which is to increase their search engine rank which otherwise wouldn’t have grown. The website may or may not have relevant content. However, this is a moot point as unethical means can jeopardize the ranking and indexing of the web pages in the future as it violates search engine guidelines.
Why and How to avoid Black Hat SEO
Like all things, the easiest route seems far more tempting. However, the recupressions are not always favourable. Black Hat SEO is one of those tempting routes to increase rankings of your website.
As you have read above, one of the most important reasons Black Hat SEO should be avoided is because it is unethical and can lead to complications for your website as it resorts to violating several search engine guidelines leading to a penalty. If your webpage earns a penalty then recovering the lost rankings is a farfetched dream as you will not only lose your ranking but even your traffic is bound to reduce drastically.
If you run an e-commerce website, resorting to Black Hat SEO tactics can create trust issues with your customer base once the search engine penalizes you, which it would sooner or later. Hence, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Following White Hat SEO practices, on the other hand, results in you respecting the search engine guidelines and also, improving your rankings. Although this might seem like a slow process and definitely requires effort and patience, it is totally worth it. We always recommend that you follow the best practice for SEO and to help you out, here are some ways you can optimize your content for Google.