Everyone wants to see their site on the first page of Google for their relevant keywords. Some businesses have sufficient funds to generate paid traffic through Google ads. Others have the patience and determination to get there through effective SEO strategies. And then there are those who want to have their cake and eat it: reach top results with minimum efforts. In most of these cases, these companies are relying on black hat SEO techniques.
In this article we will explain why you should refrain from using any of these techniques, even though they appear to generate quick results. In the long run, you will suffer multiple penalties from Google and you will have to work much harder and spend a lot of money simply to reinstate the good reputation of your website.
Why Black Hat SEO Techniques Don’t Really Work
After years of doing SEO on your website, you may be tempted to say: what if there is an easier way? A way that works on the spot and doesn’t cost a lot of money? And there will be someone who will tell you: of course it can be done.
What they don’t tell you is that after seeing a few quick results, your site will start dropping dramatically in ranking. In more extreme cases, it may even be excluded from showing up on searches by Google.
Why? Because nobody can outsmart the powerful AI algorithm that Google uses in matching search queries with websites. We are talking about lots of powerful computers that are getting smarter day by day through machine learning. You may get a quick head start. But soon, they will catch up with you – and penalise you.
The Riskiest Black Hat SEO Techniques You Must Avoid
So, what exactly should you refrain from doing in order to avoid Google penalties? These are the most frequent black hat SEO strategies that the search engine warns against using in the Webmaster Guidelines:
1. Buying Links
Here is the golden rule: always earn backlinks, never buy them. Be assured, Google knows how to spot bought links. They have a huge database (growing day by day) of domains that frequently sell links to other websites.
Apart from the fact that this is against Google’s rules, this is one of the black hat SEO techniques that does not make sense. You pay money for a link with no value for your website visitors. If they click on it, they reach a page with irrelevant, low quality content. They may even fear that they are victims of a phishing scheme and will never visit your website again.
2. Footer Links
The footer of any website is a very valuable piece of digital real estate. It appears on all the pages and sits unobtrusively at the bottom of the web page. For this reason, persons who use black hat SEO techniques advise you to put as many links as you can in the footer – mostly commercial links to sale pages.
Google will definitely spot this practice and give you a penalty. Instead of showing up for more searches, your site may not appear to users whose search terms are a perfect match for your website content.
3. Hidden Links
In general, anchor text appears in a different colour, usually blue, and sometimes it is also underlined. These are visual signals for the reader to click or tap on the respective text in order to go to another web page.
When trying to stuff pages with links, some webmasters make the anchor text look just like regular text – no underline and the same colour. This may trick a user, but it does not trick Google. Moreover, if there are lots of irrelevant links in your website, your overall site relevance decreases and you will lose even the daily organic traffic you used to get.
This is one of the advanced black hat SEO techniques – but not advanced enough to fool Google. It involves showing one version of a web page to Google, and another version to the visitors who land on it.
Apart from the pointless work involved, this practice is on Google’s DON”T list for promoting a website.
5. Invisible Text
Alright, how do you keyword stuff a site without keyword stuffing a site? This sounds like a paradox, but some people have found the answer: add text that is the same colour as the background. So, for a web page with white background, the extra keywords are written with white font.
This is one of the oldest black hat SEO techniques and for many years it was proven that it does not work and that Google spots it immediately. So, don’t do it.
6. Private Blog Networks
Private blog networks are expired domains that used to have a good page rank. They are purchased by a person who uses them as backlink sources for one website. The purchased domains no longer contain valuable, original and relevant content. Also, they never link between each other.
This scheme may appear complex, but Google can identify it and penalise all the websites involved in it – including the main website they link to.
7. Doorway Pages
Doorway pages represent a simplified version of the cloaking method. These pages are designed and optimised to rank for specific keywords. However, when a user clicks on the search result, they are redirected to a totally different web page.
8. Article Spinning
Google likes fresh, original content. Those who believe in serving their audience, take the time to create new and interesting content. Those who only want the clicks, are taking one article and spinning it into four or five different versions, using synonyms.
Actually, there used to be a market for article spinning software about 10 years ago. As you can well imagine, this is one of the black hat SEO technique that Google disapproves of and is quick to penalise.
9. Overly Optimised Pages
There is a saying: better is the enemy of good. In many cases, webmasters are not trying to use black hat SEO techniques. They just want to optimise pages as much as possible – and they overdo it.
Make sure that you avoid:
- Using too many keywords
- Adding too many links
- Inserting too much anchor text.
If you want to be certain that your page is correctly optimised, use a SEO plugin (YOAST is still one of the most popular plugins) and you will see the green light as soon as you have reached a good level of optimisation.