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Tuesday, October 27th, 2020 by Charles Szaley
Each October, it’s not unusual to find witches, ghouls, and ghosts creeping about. However, there is one creeper leaking around the corner that you need to be extra careful when looking out for…and that’s Black Hat SEO. This untrustworthy magician works from the shadows using forbidden techniques and empty promises to lure unsuspecting businesses into their trap. If you fall into this trap, it can cost you not only vast amounts of money but also your business’s reputation.
Black Hat SEO is the practice of using discredited methods to fool the internet into making your site rank. Basically, it is cheating search engines. While these methods may earn you a quick boost in rankings and traffic, you are almost always guaranteed to be found out. The consequences of using Black Hat SEO include passing on malware to your customers, which in turn can destroy their trust in you, or having your site taken out of search completely. Google grows smarter every day, leaving Black Hat SEO techniques little luck in skirting under the all-seeing search engine’s eyes.
If you are unsure if you’re being put under the spell of a Black Hat Specialist, here are a few things to look out for:
Promising You’ll Rank 1st: Even the best SEO specialist can’t guarantee you’ll rank first, especially consistently. Either they are using tricks to cheat their way to the top or they aren’t specifying when, where, and for what you’ll rank 1st for.
Unnatural Links: Are they getting you hundreds of links overnight? Are those links relevant to your business? Links need to be earned and come from only the best sources associated with your industry. Mass link building is a good indicator to search that something fishy is going on.
Keyword Spamming: The more keywords the better, right? Wrong. Don’t just load up on what you want to rank for, cramming keywords in every spot available. Write quality content that makes you the authority on the subject. That’s the best way to impress the search engines and your customers.
Hidden Content: Your website shouldn’t be a magic show (unless you’re a magician). Don’t hide keywords and links behind images, off the screen, or by changing the text to white. Shrinking the font size down to zero is a bad idea too.
Virtual Offices: Wanting to rank for cities outside of your hometown isn’t always easy, but lying to search about where you have an office is only going to help you get your listings shut down. This isn’t just fake offices, either. Don’t use P.O. Boxes, That unused broom closet you’re renting, or your cousin’s house where he lets you send mail.
Attacking the Competition: Everyone needs to play nice. Making fake reviews on your competitor’s listing or posting false alerts is a good way to earn the scorn of moderators and show your potential clients that you are lacking in integrity.
Should you find yourself approached by a villain using these tactics, along with any other shady practices, do yourself a favor and don’t listen to them. These black-market tactics may garner short term traction, but you’ll soon find yourself suffering from the often permanent consequences. A day of ranking in the 1st position is never worth having your website completely removed from a search engine.