What is “Black Hat” SEO, anyway?
Simply put, Black Hat SEO is anything that breaks the rules outlined by the search engine, results in a bad user experience, or tries to trick search engines with content not visible to the user. It derives its name from the tall black hat villains of the early 1900s were portrayed as wearing.
Despite all the warnings from search engine companies—and the penalties they impose on websites using Black Hat SEO—there are still SEO companies peddling these strategies as a shortcut to a higher ranking on search engine results pages.
While it’s true some Black Hat SEO trickery is effective at boosting a website’s ranking, it’s a short-lived boost. Google, in particular, is notoriously ruthless at penalizing websites for Black Hat SEO—often going as far as completely blocking an offending website from showing up in their results pages.
Below are a few examples of Black Hat SEO we recommend avoiding entirely. No legitimate SEO company will ever propose any of these strategies, but there are plenty of unscrupulous SEO hucksters who will.
1. Plagiarizing Content
Need some content to fill out your site, but don’t want to have to actually write it or hire someone to write it for you? No worries. Just copy and paste the content on someone else’s site! Yes, there are really web companies (and businesses) who do this. In fact, a website we built for a party rental store had over 20 pages plagiarized by a local competitor.
The trouble with stealing someone else's work is that Google is constantly crawling the web and will inevitably find your duplicate content. Unfortunately, both the site with the plagiarized copy and the site from which the content was copied will suffer, as Google’s web crawler won’t be able to distinguish any difference between the two for the purpose of ranking them.
How do you know if you’ve been plagiarized? The best free solution is to set up Google Alert to email you any time your website content is detected anywhere but on your website.
2. Keyword Spamming
Keywords are those words Internet users type into search engines when they’re looking for something online. For instance, if you wanted a plumber in New Berlin, you might type in “Plumbers in New Berlin.”
Some years back, some web developers reasoned that the more a keyword was on a page, the better the chances of the site being ranked highly by Google. Known as “keyword stuffing,” this tactic worked for a while, although it tended to make the content virtually unreadable. For instance, to win for “Plumbers in New Berlin,” the content on a keyword spammed page might read something like this:
“Joe’s Plumbing offers the best plumbing service of all the plumbers in New Berlin. If you are looking for a plumber in New Berlin, look no further than Joe’s Plumbing. When it comes to plumbers in New Berlin, Joe’s Plumbing stands out for excellent service.”
Fortunately, Google caught on to this and began penalizing sites with this sort of content by giving them lower rankings. Some exceptionally awful sites were actually de-listed from Google’s search engine.
Amazingly, there are still some web development firms that think spamming a webpage with keywords will help your website. Although they may give your site a short-term boost in rankings, the ruse will be discovered and your site will be heavily penalized for it. Unless you’re deliberately looking to tank your website, avoid doing this.
Google routinely updates their search engine in order to provide users better results. “Better” meaning more relevant, higher quality websites. Two of the most high-profile updates were Panda and Penguin.
Panda: Google’s Panda update of 2011 was designed to filter out low-quality websites from high ranking positions on Google’s search engine results pages. “Low quality,” of course, is entirely subjective, but generally can be defined as websites with little content, “spammy” content and plagiarized content.
Penguin: Because one of the ways Google evaluates a website’s authority is by the number of links to it from other websites, some black hat geniuses had the brilliant idea to set up “link farms,” whose sole purpose was create links to a client’s website. Launched in 2012, the Penguin update crawled the web looking for websites trying to game the system by having a lot of links to their clients’ sites. Thousands of websites received a vicious mauling from Google, and some were even removed entirely from Google search results.
3. Invisible Text
Don’t want to junk up your site with a lot of keywords? Just put those hundreds of keywords in a white font over a white background! Clever as this seems, Google isn’t impressed. In their eyes (or the eyes of their robotic web crawlers, which can actually detect this sort of chicanery), this is just another attempt at cheating to get ahead. Google hates cheaters, and they make them pay a heavy price.
4. “Doorway” pages
Doorway pages are designed to only be visible to specific search engines. The content on a doorway page is jammed with an unreadable hodgepodge of keywords and phrases in an effort to get a higher ranking on search engines. When someone clicks on one of these pages, they’re automatically redirected to a real website. So, the doorway page is just a ruse to get someone to a legitimate (we hope) website.
Although it’s well known that doorway pages violate the terms of search engines, there are actually still SEO agencies recommending them as a way to get a site to rank higher on search engine results pages. It makes no sense, especially when you consider this strategy usually requires you to buy expensive software to produce these pages—software which requires a considerable amount of time filling out templates with, among other things, keywords, keyword phrases and meta tags.
There aren’t many SEOs recommending doorway pages anymore, mostly because anyone with a clue knows by now Google hates this trick. You might get a short term boost in rankings, but your site will be penalized once the search engine figures out what you’ve been doing.
If you get a pitch from someone to do a doorway page, proceed immediately to the nearest exit.
5. Comment Spamming
If you read online news stories or blog posts, you know many have a comments section where readers can post their thoughts. You’ve probably noticed posts advertising something totally unrelated to what the news story is about. For instance, in the comments on a story about alternative energy something completely irrelevant like this might appear:
"I earn $70,000 a year from this simple, work at home program. You can, too! Learn more about this revolutionary new wealth-making program at LetsGetRich.com"
Classic content spam!
Although Google has taken steps to minimize this sort of intrusion in the comments section, someone always seems to find a way around it. Adding to the problem, some websites don’t implement the measures recommended by search engines to prevent this sort of spam being posted.
Content spamming is a serious issue for Google, though, and when their “nofollow” attribute is coded onto a site their web crawlers will bypass comment spam links when indexing sites—so, ultimately, this sort of comment spamming does the spammer no good.
Our SEO strategy is simple:
With this simple strategy, we’ve taken hundreds of businesses from startup to success, and we can do the same for yours.
Creative is an intangible. There aren’t many great creatives in radio. In branding there are less. In strategizing there are even less. Most companies have no BRAND. The products and services are amazing, the businesses are often brilliant. There is just nothing for consumers to grab and buckle themselves into. The web sites are also no influence in creating the brand, brand strategy, ad concept or ads.
iNET creative has dozens of mind traps and hooks. Duplicitous meanings and meanings left for the listener to decipher or wonder at. While these traps can get a listener stuck in a thought midstream over two, three, twenty exposures they force acceptance of the message and action. When they discover the hidden hooks listeners feel like insiders, part of the story and part of the brand.