As entrepreneurs, we have to be up-to-date and competitive to all marketing strategies that can further our venture. Search engines and website development are just examples of battlefronts that demand a good plan of attack to succeed on. One of these strategies is search engine optimization (SEO) which, with proper use, can turn hard work into results threefold.
However, not all SEO strategies are made equal. Some, like in actual war, are more devious and unethical. Even if the results (and there will be results) win you the battle in the short term, it will cause you to lose the war. Your business’ prestige, reputation, and sustainability will be put at risk.
What I’m talking about are Black Hat SEO strategies. Maybe you have stumbled upon this while doing your own research on SEO, or maybe this is your first time hearing it. No matter the case, this article will explain in great detail why performing black hat SEO strategies WILL hurt your business. Likewise, we will brief you on the alternative — white hat SEO — and why that’s what you ONLY want to be doing.
WHITE HAT? BLACK HAT?
The terms “black hat” and “white hat” trace back from Western film symbolism where the good guys wear white hats while the bad guys wear black hats. However, it was coined by hacker culture theorist Richard Stallman to describe hackers. A black hat hacker is someone who “violates computer security for little reason beyond maliciousness or for personal gain”, according to Robert Moore. On the other hand, white hat hackers use their talents protectively by drawing attention to system vulnerabilities that require repair.
WHAT IS BLACK HAT SEO?
Put simply, Black hat SEO are SEO tactics that violate the search engine’s terms of service. While these tactics give results, they are exploitative and malicious.
Search engines are user-centric — it’s not for businesses to exploit for marketing, but for users to find rich, useful, and relevant content. It’s designed to help.
Black hat SEO undermines the purpose of search engines by abusing machine algorithms to increase their rankings for a certain keyword instead of providing rich, useful, and relevant content.
Even if these tactics succeed in their objective, practicing black hat SEO can get your website or page BANNED from the search engine. If discovered, you will obliterate any progress made — wasting time, effort, and money. Plus, Google has been evolving to address black hat SEO exploits. Valuable content futureproofs your SERP ranking. (It’s already starting to change around 2018.)
Generally, if what you’re doing is only for the sole purpose of ranking in SERP (search engine results page) while neglecting any efforts to provide real value to users, you’re performing black hat SEO. You need to shift your gears to something more sustainable. Google suggests to ask yourself the question: “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
Here’s a list of activities to avoid:
- Abusing rich snippets markup
- Automatically generated content
- Creating pages with little or no original content
- Creating pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware
- Doorway pages
- Duplicate content
- Hidden text or links
- Keyword stuffing
- Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
- Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value
- Participating in link schemes
- Scraped content
- Sending automated queries to Google
- Sneaky redirects
There are also some SEO myths that you should never follow because it’s borderline black hat SEO.
WHAT IS WHITE HAT SEO?
White hat SEO is a set of practices that conform to a search engine’s terms of service. These tactics focus on giving value to users through rich, useful, and relevant content. These are the ONLY way to perform SEO that doesn’t include cheating and exploiting.
White hat SEO will earn your business respect and an actual engaged community — something that spammy websites full of fluff will never accomplish. What good would increasing your rank be if you can’t build a community or following around your business? Isn’t that the point of marketing anyway?
Here’s a list of tactics to employ:
- High-quality content
- Rich snippets
- Great web design
- Keyword optimization (not stuffing!)
We wrote a lot about SEO tactics and strategies to try that you may want to read. These tactics are white hat only. We also wrote about on-page SEO and off-page SEO tips that have stood the test of time.
WHY SHOULD YOU DO WHITE HAT SEO ONLY?
In the end, your business should be driven by value. It will only get what it gives. If you put in meaningless work, you will find that you’ll get meaningless results. It’s hard to love a business with spammy content. You might even lose customers this way.
Plus, why would you want to risk getting banned by Google or Bing? These are internet giants with billions of users. Imagine a world without search engines — will it be as easy to find businesses that provide the products and services you want? Getting banned on search engines means your website will be thrown into obscurity, something that you definitely want to avoid.