In a nutshell, there are two ways to make a website gain visibility: the first is to create high-quality content to give valuable answers to users interested in a specific topic. The other is to exploit some characteristics of the algorithms used by search engines to try to “cheat” them.
Doing “black hat SEO” means operating in a second way. Let me explain better: a search engine’s purpose is to provide users with results that are as relevant as possible to their searches. This happens automatically through an algorithm that tries to simulate what a human being would do. Knowing how this algorithm works, i.e., how the engine “thinks,” you can try to “cheat” it by creating low-quality content tailor-made for this algorithm.
A classic example is the following: one of the engine criteria for assessing its relevance to a specific search is the presence of the keywords searched for by the user within the page content. If we search for “camera” on Google, sites containing the word “camera” repeated several times will undoubtedly appear because a site that deals with the subject will often mention it within its pages. Purposely increasing the frequency of keywords within a text, or inserting hidden text and links (the classic text of the same color as the page background), is a sneaky way to attract the search engine, saving time and effort in writing “normal” and quality texts. The page could be considered valid by the search engine, even if it is of poor quality for the visitor in the flesh.
Why “Black Hat”
As film critic Roger Ebert had observed, speaking of the 1953 film Shane, the black hat was worn in classic western films by the bad guy, as opposed to the white hat of the good guy.
The metaphor of the white hat / black hat (white hat / black hat) was then taken up in the IT field, first referring to hackers, then, in recent years, also to SEO. Black hat SEO is, therefore, an engine positioning expert who does not make use of techniques that are lawful and permitted by the search engine guidelines to scale the SERPs but uses some techniques deprecated by the same guidelines (for example, pages full of hidden keywords, link farms, poorly constructed doorway pages, etc.).
The Risks Of Black Hat SEO
Black hat SEO is extremely risky: although these practices are sometimes effective immediately, it is expected that the success of black hat techniques is temporary and subject to sudden changes due to the search engines’ countermeasures. Sites identified as being promoted through disapproved techniques are almost always heavily penalized in terms of position in the SERPs or even deleted from the engine indexes. Search engines, and Google, in particular, are pretty adamant about “black hat” practices, and not even the big brands are pardoned by their vengeful wrath.
The Most Common Black Hat SEO Techniques
Here is a list of the most common illicit techniques used by black hat SEO to improve the ranking of a site on search engines:
- Hidden text and links: the classic text of the same color as the page background, an ancient but still used technique; Hidden links are links that are present but not visible and have the same color as the text, without “on mouse hover” effects.
- Doorway or gateway pages: These pages have no actual content but have been created to be indexed by engines and “push” other internal pages of the site or another site. They are not helpful to users, as they contain no information.
- Cloaking: it is a page created specifically for search engines, different from the one seen by users. In short, when a spider is identified within a site, a script shows it a different web page version.
- Keyword stuffing: This technique involves increasing the frequency of keywords within a piece of text to increase the site’s relevance to searches for those words.
- Desert is scraping: it is a technique that consists in taking contents no longer indexed by Google (pages of expired domains, contents of sites that have been changed) and reusing them on one’s sites.
- Spam links: use software or automatic link exchange circuits (link farms) to unnaturally increase the site’s popularity.
Our Position On Black Hat SEO
In conclusion, it is always good to be wary of those who use these incorrect techniques to obtain results more efficiently and quickly. We suggest you take the necessary precautions before relying on an SEO expert or agency. SEO is constantly demanding, mainly aimed at creating real qualitative value for users. And, as in the real life of the net, those who try to cheat sooner or later end up paying the consequences (almost always). We have therefore published this article for informational purposes only. Still, we remind you that Studio Samo does not use black hat SEO techniques to obtain positioning results on search engines but follows the guidelines promoted by the engines (in particular Google) to obtain lasting results and avoid risks for our customers.