Black Hat SEO – What is it? How to avoid it?
Ever since the search engines started ranking web pages for keyword / keyphrase queries, Internet marketers figured out ways to manipulate them. When SEO first became recognized as a legitimate form of marketing, there was no differentiation between White Hat (ethical) and Black Hat (unethical) techniques. So, early on in SEO, most search engine optimization systems were BlackHat.
In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, things started to change in the ranking world because users were becoming fed up with finding pages that were not relevant to their searches. Rather than become useless and eventually obsolete, search engines had to become more intelligent. Hence, algorithms were developed to detect and penalize cheaters and search engine optimizers were then classified into three groups: WhiteHats, Black Hats and GreyHats (greyhats are the less obvious, trendy and almost acceptable search engine manipulators).
Hidden Content – Text, Links, Images
Sometimes optimizers want the search engines to find keyword rich content that they hide from the visitors. This can be achieved in several ways such as: matching the text color to the background, using super-tiny font sizes that are barely visible or by positioning an image over the text. In Black Hat SEO, hidden links come in various forms but usually are hyperlinks created using single letters or characters such as the period but can include header and footer links that are essentially useless or redundant. Images can be used to supply additional content to the search engines and this becomes a black hat SEO technique when tiny or pointless logically named graphics with well-optimized alt attributes are inserted on web pages for the sole intent of feeding content to the search engine. If this doesn’t make much sense try ethical SEO Video.
Mirror Web Sites and Doorway Pages (Cookie Cutter Pages)
Black Hat optimization often entails the deployment of duplicate content. One way is to reproduce a web site across several domains in hopes of either increasing cross-linking or attaining higher ranking on a more search engine friendly URL.
Doorway pages are multiple landing pages whereas each is more optimized for specific sets of keyphrases. A common black hat approach is to pretend that a service is offered in various communities or countries thus requiring new landing pages geared more directly to soecific markets. For example, you’ll often you’ll find web sites with similarly coded web pages for, let’s say, Toronto SEO, Montreal Search Engine Optimization, Calgary SEO and Vancouver Search Engine Marketing … These web pages are basically identical except the cities names are replaced and perhaps their is slight variations in the actual content but their intent is for cheating, their trickery is in the effort not to trigger duplicate content filters or link farm sensors. Doorway pages can either be orphaned files (no links to them) or are often listed in the landing page footer links.
Article Spinning, Splogs, Automating and Regenerating Content
These black hat SEO methods are usually quite humorous as they are obviously not created for the end user but are formulated explicitly for the search engine. They often seem intelligent and unique but unfortunately are nothing more than a weak search engine optimizer’s plagiarisms.
Various Keyword / Keyphrase Ranking Illusions
Lately, an effective Black Hat technique is to pretend that a key phrase ranks highly. The illusion that a web page is highly ranked can be created in several ways: exploiting web history features, using paid ads that appear to be organic, using regional search results instead global or accurate ones.
Cloaking and Redirecting Tricks
Whenever a webmaster intentionally offers the search engine content different than delivered to the visitor, this becomes a black hat SEO technique. Usually these types of cheats are driven by server side scripting and can be difficult for the search engine to detect.
Link Building Schemes
I can write for hours and hours about link building schemes but essentially, link building is Black Hat SEO whenever links are acquired unnaturally and not based on the web page’s own merit. Link building strategies such as: swapping links, useless article submission, blog comment spamming, forum signature spam. Dumpster directory submissions etc. often fall into Grey Hat SEO when applied lightly. Most BlackHats like to focus on manipulating the off-site ranking influences (link scheming).
Keyword and Keyphrase Stuffing Techniques
This is a pitiful but still visible SEO system whereas words are stuffed into sentences and paragraph as inconspicuously as possible; in hopes of impressing the search engine.