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What is Black Hat SEO?

iStock_000003233994Many businesses with websites are engaging in search engine optimization (SEO) these days to ensure that their site ranks highly in search engines when people search for specific keywords.  SEO is a good way to obtain more site traffic that should ultimately lead to more clients and increased revenue.  Search engine optimization is something ClickxPosure does on behalf of clients in order to help their high-quality sites be seen by people looking for the type of content it contains.  When done correctly, SEO is an honest, useful, and powerful way to promote a business’s website.

Sometimes, site owners or even consulting agencies become overzealous and try to game the system.  They use techniques that are against the rules in hopes that they can trick search engines into giving them a high ranking quickly.  These are called “black hat” techniques.  Search engines have caught on to them, however, and engaging in them will most like backfire.

What are the most common black hat SEO techniques?

1.       Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing involves overloading the website’s content with keywords.  All of the content on a website should be readable and provide useful information.  Sentences that hardly make sense or read like spam because every other word is a keyword are not valuable and will not remain high in search results for long.

2.       Invisible Text

Sneaky webmasters might add extra content to pages and make this text the same color as the background of the page.  This makes the content invisible to visitors of the site, but able to be crawled by search engines.  It is against search engine guidelines and considered “cheating.”

3.       Paid Links

Because back links increase search rankings, site owners might be tempted to buy incoming links from the countless online sources offering them.  These links are not helpful because they do not come from quality sources.  They are often part of “link farms,” or the result of spam comments left on blogs.  Search engines have learned to ignore or even punish the use of these types of links.

When Google and other search engines catch a site using black hat SEO techniques, they punish it by pushing it down in the rankings.  Trying to game the system is not only unfair, but not worth the risk of worsening the site’s search engine standing.  Google is definitely serious about cracking down on black hat techniques.  They even penalized a portion of their own company—Google Chrome—for sixty days after finding out the Chrome site had utilized paid links.  Don’t think they won’t penalize your site, too!