In any activity that brings rewards, especially financial ones, there will always be those who are tempted to use underhand tactics to gain an unfair advantage. The field of SEO is no different, and there are countless examples of website owners trying to game Google’s algorithm, so that their website ranks higher.
Whilst some have succeeded, it is often a victory that is short-lived, and the whole time those website owners had the dubious pleasure of looking over their shoulders waiting for the moment Google eventually delisted their website.
Those who like to gamble with their website and their business may feel it is a risk worth taking, but for the majority who wish to build a sustainable and long-term business, blackhat is not the way to go.
Another problem with blackhat tactics is Google has become more and sophisticated in the way it crawls websites and in identifying the ranking factors within a website. For this reason, it has become harder to manipulate rankings by using some of the tactics that Google is totally opposed to, like the 3 outlined below.
- Paid for Links / Link Exchanges
It is incredible that these ventures still exist but unfortunately, they do. For a start, there is no guarantee that any of the links you buy carry much, if any, authority at all. Bear in mind the whole point of building backlinks is to get some of the authority of the site you are linking from to flow to your website. The only links that you can genuinely have any confidence in doing that, are natural, organic links which have been created legitimately.
Google is able to see where every link comes from, and where it goes to, and follow that network to infinity. Eventually, some of or all the links from a link farm will flag up as bought or spammy links and it is at that point your website is a goner. Google will effectively ignore your website, as it does not want its search results tarnished with websites which resort to this sort of blackhat SEO tactic
- Stuffing Your Content With Keywords
This was one of the first and most well-known of Google’s updates, where they started reducing the ranking of websites whose content was nothing more than keyword phrases used in every other sentence. Unbelievably, there are still many website owners who try this tactic.
Google wants its results to be useful to its users, so it punishes sites where it believes there is an overuse of keywords. On the other hand, it will reward sites who use keywords and keyword phrases within its content in a natural way. Make sure your website follows the latter path, rather than the former if you want it to rank well.
- Hiding Links
The practice of hiding links, either within your own website or in other websites has long been practised mainly because it is easy to do using several tricks such as:
- Hyperlinking punctuation marks
- Making the link text the same colour as the background
- Having the text positioned off screen
- Using font size of zero
Whilst visitors to your website may not see these, Google soon will, and when they do, you can expect your website to plummet from whatever lofty ranking position it temporarily reached.
These are just 3 out of the dozens of blackhat tactics that are used to try to fool Google into ranking websites higher than they deserve to be. If you have any ambition for your website being successful do not use these or any others.
You may hear some people brag online they have been using them for a while and are still getting away with it, so you should use them too. The simple fact is that for every website that manages to avoid Google penalties there are hundreds that don’t and pay the price for it. Don’t be one of them.