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Black Hat SEO, or search engine optimization, got its name from the stereotypical villain in a black hat fighting against the stereotypical hero in a white hat. It refers to any underhanded method of optimizing a web page for the search engines for the purpose of getting a high ranking quickly. Usually, pages which use these types of tactics are caught by the search engines quickly and banned.
What purpose does it serve? Why do people do it? For fast, short-term results. Some webmasters consider the increase in traffic they get well worth any ban or penalty they might get. They care more about the short term results than the long term results that they can potentially achieve by sticking with White Hat SEO.
If you’re not familiar with Google guidelines, you might be performing some Black Hat SEO without even realizing it.
Here is an overview of some common underhanded SEO tactics.
– Hiding text, such as multiple keywords, by making them invisible or making them extremely tiny and placing them at the bottom of the page.
– Any type of keyword stuffing.
– Using content automation software instead of coming up with high quality, original content.
– Any type of sneaky redirects, doorway pages, or cloaking.
– Creating sub-domains and multiple pages with duplicate content.
Black Hat SEO can be done off-site as well. Examples of this include:
– Link manipulation in the form of buying links and submitting links en masse to directories or link farms.
– Submitting automated/spun articles to article directories.
– Getting involved in link networks
– Creating multiple accounts on sites with user generated content to either overpraise your own site or to complain about a competitor’s site while pretending to be multiple people.
If you’re still unsure, here are some SEO Do’s and Don’ts.
Do: Keep the content on a specific page focused on a specific topic.
Don’t: Create similar content on multiple pages.
Do: Make keywords appear as naturally as possible throughout the content.
Don’t: Go overboard with keyword use, or try to stuff them anywhere that might be considered unnatural.
Do: Create content that reads nicely with good spelling and grammar.
Don’t: Just throw any ole’ article up for the sake of having something up.
Do: Update your site or blog regularly while keeping older pages organized and intact.
Don’t: Get a paged indexed and then change it completely. This is referred to as “page swapping” or “bait and switch”.
Do: Get involved in networking and try to help people with similar interests. Answer any questions they have and make yourself appear as much as an expert as possible.
Don’t: Go around posting on message boards simply to tell people to visit your site for answers to all of their questions.
Do: Take the time to read other people’s blogs and leave either insightful or constructive comments, informing what you agreed or disagreed with.
Don’t: Just spam every blog post you come across with “nice post” or something similar just go get a bunch of backlinks.
This guide covers the most common forms of Black Hat SEO. Basically, any technique that is considered shady could fall into this category and get you banned from search engine rankings. While White Hat SEO takes a lot longer, the results also last a lot longer.