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Black hat SEO, the black magic of the Internet

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), can be done in several ways. SEO is flexible and the boundaries are almost endless. There are 2 popular ways or methods of doing SEO: ‘white hat’ on the one hand and ‘black hat’ on the other. In this article, we focus mainly on black hat SEO.

But from where the name? We have all watched enough movies or played computer games in which black always represented evil and white represented good. In SEO this is no different, black again represents “evil.

Why? Black hat SEO is a method used to hurt other (and sometimes your own) websites in order to score points with Google. These methods used to be used legally, unfortunately several users abused them. Since then, these techniques have been frowned upon by search engines. If you get caught with black hat SEO now, you run a high risk of having your website banned from the search engines.

Being banned from the search engines will undoubtedly harm your business. Even if you want to rebuild your brand you will have a hard time. After all, reputation is vital these days, which is why there are things like “online reputation management” and “search engine reputation management.

Examples

These are the 3 most well-known-and common-methods used in black hat SEO:

Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is “the art” of cramming as many keywords as possible onto your website and pages, so much so that the keywords are often anything but relevant. It significantly lowers the usability and quality of your website in exchange for higher search engine rankings. Despite the fact that Google can more easily detect these types of practices these days, you still encounter this method on a daily basis.

While it is important that keywords be ranked, it is also equally important to ensure that the content you would write is relevant and informative rather than something that would only generate a temporary spike in search traffic.

Invisible texts and links

Invisible text is really just putting popular keywords in the same color as your background so they are invisible to visitors. At first glance, these websites look just like any other, but with a few simple movements with your mouse or by using the CTRL + A function (select all text), you can easily see the hidden text. This method is used to add more characters and keywords to a web page in order to rise in the rankings, but it is also a way that tries to abuse the Google algorithm.

Invisible links are also a common problem. You may well come across a page that suddenly takes you to another page, despite not seeing the link you clicked on. This negative link-building technique aims not only to mislead, but also to help websites, which normally would hardly generate any traffic, gain visitors. Google can detect this problem quickly these days. Although a huge number of websites continue to use these methods.

Cloacking

This is one of the oldest black hat methods. In cloacking, visitors are misled by ending up on a page with content they were not looking for at all, but has appeared in the search results. A simple example:

You search for garden furniture and the search results give you several innocuous results that at first glance look like the expected (garden) furniture stores. However, clicking on the link will take you to the website of a construction company.

This is a common method of generating traffic to a Web site. However, it is a misleading method. It makes the user experience less pleasant. This too can cause your website to be penalized by Google.