Black Hat SEO is a term used for SEO techniques that are in direct violation of search engine guidelines. Black Hat SEO is also known as spam and utilises completely different tactics to White Hat SEO. Search engines such as Google release regular updates to combat techniques used by Black Hat SEOs as they can reduce the quality of their results and are not reflective of naturally occurring authority and popularity on the web. These updates actively penalise websites that employ spammy tactics, reducing their search visibility and in some cases removing these websites from their database entirely. We highly advise not to engage with Black Hat SEO because whilst the results may come quicker they are not sustainable and the repercussions can be very significant.
Examples of Black Hat SEO
Black Hat SEO usually incorporates excessive use of a particular aspect such as external anchor text or items that are of little to no use to a real person but instead are created for the sole purpose of manipulating search engine results. For example, keyword stuffing thousands of keywords in the meta keyword section which is invisible to the user, Black Hat SEOs used this so extensively that Google no longer take meta keywords into account. There are too many techniques utilised by spammers to list here but the most often used techniques involve keyword stuffing, duplicate and thin content, scraped content and linkspam.
So why do people us spam as an SEO tactic?
Search engines are in a seemingly never ending battle with spam. Organic or White Hat SEO is an incredibly time intensive job, requiring a skill set that spans content creation, analytical thinking, social media, wider marketing and much more. As such, many choose to try and take short cuts by utilising spam. Generally speaking, Black Hat SEO is cheaper. Automated scraper bots are used to copy or spin content and for link spam. If done manually it requires a lot less consideration and resources than White Hat SEO and as such can be a real temptation. Furthermore, agencies will often outsource this type of SEO to India where hourly rates are incredibly cheap, further lowering the cost. In addition to this, because these bots can create thousands of links and articles it can produce results in a much shorter timeframe than its organic counterpart. The problem is that these results can be very short lived as search engines are constantly improving in their ability to identify and penalise websites that utilise these spammy tactics.
The real reason why Black Hat is the wrong choice
As above, spam can produce quicker results. But this comes with a couple of very large caveats. Search engines are getting better at preventing these results from occurring in the first place and also heavily penalise websites involved with such practices. As a result, not only are black hat tactics are becoming less and less effective at providing results but the long term chances of search visibility are very slim. Your results may last weeks, months or even span into a year but the search engine algorithm will eventually find you and penalise. This penalisation is the main reason why we are so adamant that you do not engage in these spammy tactics. Let’s look at the potential repercussions of a Black Hat SEO campaign:
Let’s say that the campaign works and you shoot up the SERPs for your target keywords. You are suddenly bombarded with enquiries or product sales, all very positive right? Maybe it is so positive that you need to invest in a larger office premises. The sales from search traffic keep on rolling in so you make a few more hires, invest further in more products or machinery, etc, etc. Your business development team doesn’t need to expand because you have all of these inbound enquiries. You then get penalised and are de-indexed. The sales dry up overnight leaving you with significantly larger overheads or cash tied up in stock with no structure in place to improve sales in the short term. Yep, its squeeky bum time and going bust is a very real threat. All because you started to become reliant on search traffic that was not sustainable. We are not being fear mongers here, this scenario happens all the time and we implore you not to put yourself, your business or your employees in this situation. We always advise clients who are looking to outsource their search marketing to an agency that if they do not have the budget to engage in a White Hat campaign you are better off not doing any SEO at all.
Google is indiscriminate
Finally, remember that Google is reasonably indiscriminate. The algorithm does not care if you had the best intentions, are a one man band start up or a multi million pound business. The machine will go about its business and if you are found to be contravening their guidelines you will be penalised. Be warned.