Blackhat SEO is a term used for spammy SEO tactics that are sometimes immoral and even illegal! Blackhat SEO is used in aggressive markets such as the adult, casino and pharmacy sectors. Some SEO’s and link builders may borrow techniques from the blackhat underworld for quicker wins. This is usually done without the SEO client knowing exactly what they’re up to.
If you’re new to SEO, or you are thinking about hiring a consultant, here is a guide of some blackhat SEO practices you shouldn’t be getting involved in.
Keyword stuffing should have stayed in the 90s, but it is still being done. Some search engines are even fooled by a bit of keyword stuffing. Google is good at detecting this.
Keyword stuffing involves placing the keyword you are targeting within the text multiple times. So much so that the text may begin to sound like nonsense. Please be aware that it is possible to include your keyword too much within your content. You have more of a chance of being penalised for it rather than rewarded.
Again, another ancient tactic, hidden text shouldn’t be happening these days… but it is. Hidden text involves stuffing keywords at the bottom of a page, or the top, and making the text the same colour as the page background. This means that it is invisible to the user, but the search engine would still read it.
Search engines frown on this, and I know that Google has an algorithm to detect text the same or similar colour as the background. It tries to completely disregard it or, in some cases, penalise the site for such tactics.
Cloaking is when visitors are shown different content to the search engine bots. For example, the site may display a page with a whole host of content to the bots, but the user may be taken to a full page image advert or to something unrelated.
Cloaking isn’t taken lightly by search engines as it compromises the user experience of a searcher. You really shouldn’t be getting involved with cloaking!
Blog Comment Spam
Blog comments used to be a great way to socialise with bloggers and state opinions on particular blog posts. Since the popularity of blogs and SEO, comments have been abused as a way to get backlinks to your site.
One such case study, in which Tevan Alexander tries to rank for ‘Dirty SEO in Los Angeles’ describes how he uses blog comments as part of his strategy. Interesting read… but don’t do it for your site!
Avoid link networks like the plague. Public networks are often on Google’s radar before long, and when they get taken down, so do all the sites that were using it. Just look at Build My Rank, PostJoint and more recently, MyBlogGuest.
Always check to see what strategy your link builders or SEO team are using. Use your common sense and gut judgement to determine if the strategy will stand the test of time, or become a threat as soon as Google tweak some parameters. As with everything in SEO, it’s a case of risk vs reward. Trust me, I’m no one to judge Blackhat SEO tactics… it all depends on your own personal situation.