Black hat SEO is a set of techniques that improves the website rankings while violating the search engine provider’s terms of service. Marketers who practice black hat SEO often experience a surge of traffic and leads, followed by long term punishment. The basic premise of those offering black hat SEO is that it offers an effective short term solution to all problems. The reality of using Black hat SEO techniques is often tragically different.
One of the ways that search engine determines the relevancy of the site is through external links. Think of each link as a referral. If more people refer the same site for a particular topic, then that site probably has relevant content about the topic. Additionally, the weight of each referral is different. For example, a referral from a University website will weigh more than a referral coming from a blog of a random teenager.
Black hat marketers take advantage of this system by using software programs that build links automatically. These software programs are capable of generating thousands of links in a short time frame. However, links that are produced by these software programs have very little relevancy. For example, the black hat program might very well create a link about cosmetics on an automotive site.
Note that link building itself is not a wrong. Site owners are allowed to get links manually by commenting on blogs and forums. The key is that the links must come from relevant sites and should not be done by an automated software programs.
Content is the most important part of improving website rankings. To search engines, amount of content means the amount of information. A website with 5 pages of content will generally rank less than a website with 500 pages of content, given that the quality and the quantity of the content per page is the same. The more information a website has on a topic, the more relevant that website must be for that particular topic.
In addition to the quantity of content, the uniqueness of content is also important. Duplicating content can lead to negative consequences and will have very little or no positive impact on the overall ranking. Therefore, a replica of the original content from another site is generally a bad idea. However, black hat marketers came up with ways to make duplicated content appear unique: content spinning.
Content spinning is the act of replacing words with its synonyms. For example, “I am happy” may turn into “Me is glad.” The problem with keyword spinning is that synonyms are not readily interchangeable. The preposition and infinitives may change, and each synonym has slight differences. Spinning often creates pieces of gibberish, which is as good as no text at all in terms of information. Black Hat marketers often expand the site by adding highly spun articles in their content. Unreadable content provide no values to readers, and thus gives a negative user experience. However, content spinning in itself is not at fault. Webmasters are welcome to rewrite an article based on their own perspectives. The problem with content spinning programs is quality control. Search engines providers accept spun contents as long as website owners are able to provide spun content of quality. It must be proof read by a human to ensure this and that is something black hat marketers don’t bother with, it adds a lot of cost.
Keyword stuffing refers to the act of loading excess amount of keywords into the content or in Meta tags. Keyword stuffing was an effective way to increase website visibility when the Meta keywords tag was one of the determinants of search engine rankings. However, search engines now disregard the Meta keywords tag in a large part because black hat SEO practitioners exploited the ranking algorithm.
Aside from the Meta tag change, keyword stuffing in website content is also discouraged, as keyword density is no longer a critical factor in the keywords ranking. In fact, high keyword density may even be negative to SEO.
JC Penny is a large clothing department store in America, operating since 1902, and it is perhaps the most well known example in the SEO community. JC Penny hired a team of black hat SEO specialist to build a series of link farms to increase the visibility of the generic keywords. However, JC Penny’s attempt to game Google over the holiday season backfired. Google removed JC Penny‘s formidable amount of revenue generating keywords from the top positions, which create a loss around 4 billion dollars potential revenue.
The takeaway from JC Penny’s example is that staying white hat is essentially the only sustainable method of operating a business. Guaranteed SEO is a 100% white hat internet marketing company. Client websites are all optimized with a strict eye to current search engine policies.
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