4 Black Hat Tactics to Avoid

Posted by Emery Ross on Apr 8, 2020 7:30:00 AM

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We updated this popular post from 2015 to ensure it's up-to-date.

SEO used to be a lot easier to do before Google’s search algorithm became as sophisticated as it is today. Couple of keywords here, a few links there, and you were sure to start ranking for some pretty competitive terms.

All that has changed. The problem, however, is that some SEO companies and “professionals” will still practice these tactics in order to see quick results. You know the type: the ones that can “guarantee” you top rankings on Google in 3 months. While these black hat tactics may still work to some degree, the risk of being penalized or de-indexed is a far greater threat to your business than taking a little extra time to rank on Google.

4 Black Hat SEO Tactics that are Still Being Used Include:

  1. Hidden Content
    Remember when you were able to put a bunch of hidden content on your site that was the same color as the background? The point of this was so that the search engine crawlers could read the content, but your users couldn’t see it. This allowed webmasters to put up walls of content without affecting the aesthetics of the site. Times have changed and the artificial intelligence that comprises Google’s algorithm has wised up to this tactic years ago.
  2. Keyword Stuffing
    Always a favorite go-to for an SEO six-plus years ago. Put the keyword you would like to be ranked for in your content, meta tags, and title tags over and over and you’ll be sure to rank for that keyword right? Google caught on to this tactic early and started dinging those websites for duplicate tags and over-optimization. It’s much better to keep your content as organic and natural as possible.
  3. Link Farming
    As a way to game Page Rank, SEOs of the past started to figure out that the more links pointing to a site, the more likely they will rank for certain keywords. Out of this, link farms were born with the goal of linking a bunch of non-related websites together. It wasn’t long until Google and the Penguin update destroyed this web of lies and made quality, relevant links one of the staples of Google’s ranking factors.
  4. Gateway Pages
    What’s wrong with creating a page that is specifically geared toward search engine crawlers that will redirect an actual user to the “real” page when clicked? Everything. Although this may have been a good idea in the past, search engine crawlers are constantly evolving and doing away with sites that employ gateway pages.

Here is a list of all the search engine optimization techniques you should stay away from:

  • Buying links or link schemes (ie: I will like you if you like me)
  • Article spinning
  • Automated search queries on Google, Bing and/or Yahoo
  • New pages with copies or duplicated content
  • Websites that use phishing or have viruses, trojans, or other malware

If you use any of these tactics currently, stop! Search engine algorithms are getting increasingly savvy, and the risks don't come close to outweighing the (short term) benefits for a company that plans to be around for a long time. 

A good example of a company paying the ultimate price for using black hat strategies is the delisting of JC Penney in 2011. Prior to Black Friday, they employed a slew of black hat strategies that got them immediate prime search engine rankings. Google caught wind of this and delisted JC Penney for the entire Christmas season. OUCH! 

Don’t get caught in the hype and make sure you do your research. Choose a reputable SEO company to do business with and invest in a sound, long-term strategy!

To learn about how Tribute Media handles SEO, contact us.

Emery Ross

Written by Emery Ross

Emery is an inbound marketing specialist in search engine optimization and content writing. She earned a Master of Arts in rhetoric and composition from Boise State University. In her free time she writes about birds (mostly geese).

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