While reflecting on this week’s topic about the legal and ethical issues confronting digital marketers a term came to me: “Blak Hat SEO”. Yes, that dark and dodgy side of the search engine optimisation (SEO) world, which is still used despite search engines’ efforts to battle it.
So what exactly is Black Hat SEO and why people use it?
As you may know, most websites rely on search engines such as Google for half (if not most) of their traffic. That is why it is so important for a website to rank higher on search engines. Studies reveal that 62% of search engine users click only on sites that come up on the first search engine results page and less than 10% click on results that appear after the third page. It means that if your website is not popping up on the first Google’s page, you have serious work to do.
Here is where SEO comes into play. SEO refers to those techniques that will help your website to pop up among the top results of a search engine for certain keywords. These techniques fall into two categories. “White Hat SEO” and “Black Hat SEO”. The former refers to those good, ethical tactics that comply with search engines rules and policies. The latter has to do with those unethical techniques that try to trick Google algorithms and manipulate the way search engines perceive the relevance of a website.
In other words, black hat methods will make websites rank higher on search engines quicker and might be more effective in the short term. However, if Google finds out that a website is using these techniques it might not only be penalised (e.g. drop in rankings) but also banned.
And, who wants to be blacklisted by Google? I guess nobody. Google can make your website disappear in a matter of seconds and make you experience something similar to death on the web! For instance, in 2013 Rap Genius was penalised by Google so badly that people could not find it even by looking it up for its own name. Nevertheless, this does not stop people from trying.
The problem is, though, that many website owners use these techniques because they feel tempted but many others use them inadvertently due to lack of knowledge. This is why it is so important to understand what those black hat techniques are and how to avoid them. Some popular black hat SEO techniques are content scrapping, link spamming, paid links, keyword stuffing and fake reviews.Finally, it is important for businesses to be aware that not all SEO companies or freelancers use white hat SEO techniques and that there is a chance
Finally, it is important for businesses to be aware that not all SEO companies or freelancers use white hat SEO techniques. Some may use black hat SEO techniques to show quicker results.