Believe it or not, the term “Black Hat” comes from the days of cowboys where outlaws wore black cowboy hats and were considered outcasts and dangerous and the good guys wore white hats and were usually the trusted and respected by the community. This proves a fitting term in the SEO world as not much has changed, certain companies and individuals use outlaw techniques in optimising search engines to get ahead and others prefer to do things the honest way. Both techniques work, but which game you choose is what distinguishes a good guy from a bad guy.
Black Hat SEO
Just like days of old, the outlaws always went for the quick cash, if they were successful they usually walked away with a wad of treasure but most of the time they fell short of their goal and got busted or ended up dead. Not much is different on an SEO perspective, black hat SEO’s use techniques such as re-directors and automated link builders to spam their way to the top of the results but this is short lived when the Google sheriff tracks them down and leaves their sites banned or severely penalised. Simply it is at the risk of the black hat to see how long his site can ride on the edge before being caught, sometimes he will reap the rewards and make it to the top spots in the search results but sooner or later these sites are hunted down and completely shut down by search engines.
So why do these black hat SEO’s take the risk? Well if they can make a profit quicker than search engines can shut them down then there is no reason to play nice. Usually the person that suffers in the end is the client who’s web site can no longer be indexed because they had no clue that the great results that they were getting were the product of outlawed SEO practices.
So what is considered black hat SEO?
Link farms and Doorway Pages
These are usually spam pages that have no meaningful use to the visitor, link farms sometimes contain hundreds of links to various sites , there is no relevance between the links and the site often asks one to add their link to get hundreds of visits to their site daily. Google does their best to hunt down these pages and remove them and in some cases will penalise your page if it is associated with these “bad neighbourhoods”. Doorway pages are the creation of many pages on different domains all pointing to one primary domain. these pages are often also meaningless and can often trick someone to clicking through to a target page. These pages are strictly created for search engines.
This is when a site is packed tight with hundreds or repeated keywords and no real content. An example of keyword stuffing could be:
– sentences like this make reading hard and are considered bad practice by Google.
Invisible Text or mini text
An old trick would be to list a whole bunch of keywords in the background of your site with font colour the same colour as your background, or list hundreds of keywords on your page in text so small that it is barely readable. This SEO practice would give Search engines a false perception of the content of the site. Toady’s search engines are far to smart for this. You may get away with this technique for a while but sooner or later the Google sheriff will find you and shut you down.
Cookie Stuffing and redirecting
This is mostly a technique used by people wanting to earn money with affiliate marketing. Usually, on affiliate sites, the user can gain a small amount of cash for referring people to an affiliated partner site. This is done by placing a small invisible cookie on the visitors computer without the user knowing. Cookie stuffers force this cookie into your computer without you ever visiting the site the cookie was intended for. Another type of cookie stuffing is called image cookie stuffing. The exploiter simply puts their affiliate cookie code into the alt tag of an image, or attaches a PHP file to the image, when the image is clicked the user is taken unexpectedly to the affiliate site. The use of cookie stuffing is highly immoral and will get you banned from the affiliate program you are trying to get money from.
This method is widely used by Black Hat specialists that scan blog sites and comment on them just to try receive a backlink to their product or page. They usually comment on something irrelevant to your post. Be sure to delete and report any spammers trying to leave comments on your blog. If you are using wordpress then you can combat and report comment spam with the Akismet Plugin (WordPress Account Required)
Just remember that if something seems immoral or dodgy then it probably is. There are many BlackHat SEO individuals that will guarantee results. These results will do wonders for your site on the short but will destroy your site in the long. Remember this: THERE IS NO GUARANTEE FOR SEARCH RESULTS