There’s no argument about it, search engine optimization can be extremely competitive for “big money” keywords. I could only begin to hypothesis on the true business value for a loan company to rank for “payday loan”, but for the sake of keeping it simple we can assume that it is a very large figure. With hundreds of companies all vying for the coveted #1 position on Google, less scrupulous SEO practitioners and their business counter-parts take to questionable strategies and tactics to out-rank the competition using so-called “black-hat” techniques.
Often times, these black-hat SEO techniques yields high-ranking SERP results in a blaze of fury, only to have all of the rank gains permanently removed days or hours later. These strategies are high risk, as search engines will respond with permanent bans or heavy penalties that will render the offending website invisible to search engines (and thus SEO traffic). Many of these dodgy marketing campaigns have distinct characteristics that make’s it easy for Google’s Panda and Hummingbird algorithms to detect a black-hat site, providing the black-hat site a small window of time to monetize. Nonetheless, thousands upon thousands of black-hat campaigns are launched every year and it’s important to understand what these techniques are so that they can be reported and avoided.
What are some notorious black-hat techniques?
- Keyword Stuffing
- Although not as prevalent as it once was, there is a small resurgence of semantically related keyword stuffing going. This tactic places unneeded similar and related keywords into the website’s content in an attempt to game the search engine.
- Hidden / unreadable text
- To an actual person, they probably would not see the small, hidden and unreadable text, but the search engine spiders sure do!
- Cloaking is a technical exploit that (atypically) tracks whether the user is a search bot or a real visitor, and shows different content depending.
- Unnatural backlinks
- The result
Is black-hat SEO dead?
Unfortunately, no. And while the search engines employ some of the brightest minds in the world, I don’t foresee them being able to curtail the spam and seediness anytime soon. When there is an promise of a “quick buck”, someone is going to take it. The good news is that white-hat SEO strategies come out the victor and further establish your website and brand as an authoritative source for the internet to enjoy.