Black hat SEO is a collection of covert, manipulative search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and tactics designed to get a site to rank higher. Black hat SEO often provides short-lived results at a high risk of search engine punishment if discovered. The Grow with Studio team does not engage in any black hat SEO (and neither should you!).

Even if black hat SEO techniques worked years ago and might still offer some short-term benefits, it’s never a good idea to engage in this type of strategy to increase your website’s organic reach. 

At some point, it is highly likely that search engines will discover these unethical tactics and penalize your website. Penalties could include being ranked lower or being removed from search engine results pages entirely. Neither option will benefit your store! Search engine algorithms are becoming more and more advanced in detecting these sort of maneuvers so it’s unlikely you’re fooling them – at least not for long. 

Some examples of black hat SEO could be any of the following:

Keyword Stuffing

Filling your on-page content with lots of keywords so that the information loses value and is awkward to read. The idea is that the frequent use of keywords will be picked up by search engines and increase the ranking of the page for them; however, if there are too many – if the page is over-optimized – this strategy will backfire and deliver a negative user experience. Search engines will detect that the page is not providing value and will lower its ranking. Instead of filling your content with tons of keywords, sprinkle in three to five well-researched, relevant keyword phrases on the page – and focus on offering useful information to your visitors. 

Low-Quality/ Paid Links

When another site links to your site, it is seen by search engines as a vote of confidence in your site. However, this is not the case if the links are irrelevant or if you have paid for them. In SEO practices of yester-year, paid directories became common; sites would publish long lists of links, and would get paid for each one. Search engines figured out this link scheme practice and penalized both the directory sites as well as the sites that were linked to from them. There is now a strict policy against buying and selling links. If you do work on building your site’s link profile, be sure the links are high-quality and relevant to your site. They should provide value to the user rather than being a link in a long list of unrelated sites.

Duplicate Content 

Copying content from another site may be tempting, especially if you’ve got a high number of products on your site or you don’t manufacture them yourself. High-quality content is important, but not to the point of swiping words from another site. Whenever possible, do not copy content from anywhere else on the internet. Instead, write your own text. Even if you’re saying basically the same thing, you’ll want to make it your own. It’s your site, so take some pride in making it shine rather than mimicking other sites. 

Instead of engaging in black hat SEO, it’s best to continually work to improve user experience on your site using white hat SEO, or SEO that abides by the guidelines set out by search engines. This will result in more visitors spending more time on your site, returning to your site multiple times and hopefully making a purchase on your site. Each of these factors will signal to search engines that your site is providing value, which will gradually move your site’s ranking up in relevant user searches. Search engines aim to provide the best results to users’ searches – so if your site is offering a good user experience, it’s going to be ranked higher as a result.