Don’t Be an SEO Villain – Read This

SEO is an essential practice for those who want their business website to bloom. But there’s white hat SEO and there’s black hat SEO. You’ll want to avoid the latter.

“Black hat” SEO?

So thanks to the usual associations with color and morality, you probably already know how it goes. White hat SEO = good, black hat SEO =  bad. But what’s with the whole “hat” thing? Well, it comes from a trope in classic Westerns. A lot of villains would wear a black hat. As far as I can tell, that’s it.

What is it?

Black hat SEO is defined as the use of SEO practices that aren’t approved of by search engines. They’ll get your page ranked, sure. They may even get your competitors in a lower position in the rankings. But search engines will figure out that you’re going black hat eventually, and the fallout won’t be pretty.

Why do people do it?

Most of the time, people do it because it’s easier to do it that way. At least, it seems pretty easy at first. It’s also very cheap, for the most part. Companies who offer black hat SEO don’t usually charge a lot. That is, unless they make a big deal about doing it undetected. But they’re usually still not all that great at not getting caught. Also, they often don’t show up on search engines, which makes them difficult to find anyway.

Gimme some examples

If you’ve got a computer automating your content, that’s black hat SEO. If you’re trading links for links, or links for hits, then that’s also black hat SEO. Keyword stuffing is also a no-no. “Google bombing” a competitor so their SEO is affected will get you into trouble. Creating a network of guest posters can also fall into black hat territory, though it depends how you go about it.

How do I avoid it?

The best way to avoid using black hat SEO techniques is to research SEO thoroughly. Here’s the thing: a lot of people who are just starting out with SEO don’t actually know that there is “bad” SEO. This is simply because they haven’t done their research. If you’re outsourcing the SEO campaign, then you need to check each candidate thoroughly. You can also use a service like SEO Checker to assess your current SEO practices.

What happens if I ignore you and do it anyway?

Bad idea. Basically, it’s actually pretty darn easy for Google to find out if you’ve been “black hatting”. Their algorithms check your website thoroughly, as well as the network of links your website uses. They can also observe your social media activity to see if you’re doing it there. If you get caught, the usual penalty will see you removed from search engines for some time.

Companies who got caught

Black hat SEO is a corrupt business tactic that really hurts small companies. As such, some of the biggest and most trusted companies in the world have used it. The BBC, BMW, The Washington Post, eBay, Home Depot… Heck, even Google have done it! Which, yes, meant that Google had to penalize itself.

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