How can Blackhat Tactics Hurt a Website?

In this world of digital marketing, SEO is one of the greatest tools available to us. Search Engine Optimization can usually be done in two ways – the negative way (Blackhat SEO) and the positive way (White hat SEO). While both are guaranteed to get you results, Blackhat tactics can actually harm your website (and your business) in the long run.

What is Exactly a Blackhat SEO?

Every search engine has its own terms and conditions. Black Hat SEO is when you break these terms and focus on ranking your webpage and nothing else.

Unlike White hat SEO, this system does not give any value to its readers.

As these tactics violate the terms of service for these search engines, the users of these websites incur several penalties. These penalties may lead to losses in their businesses as well. Before we dig deeper into the penalties, let us go through some of these blackhat SEO tactics in brief.

1. Keyword stuffing

Just because search engines look for keywords doesn’t mean you need to have them in every other line. Search engines recognize these patterns and categorize them as “over optimization”.

2. Link farming

This refers to creating bogus backlinks to your website all over the internet using meaningless comments or posts.

3. Hidden text

Some websites ensure that the keywords or backlinks are picked up by the search engines but can’t be seen by readers because of the color or size of the text.

4. Duplicate content

A few websites tend to copy entire paragraphs from other high authority websites to get a rank similar to theirs.

5. Cloaking

Sometimes, the link on a website shows the search engine that they are redirecting the users to some specific website, but in reality, the users are taken to a different website entirely.

There are several other black hat SEO tactics that are related to the ones mentioned above. They are all illegal since they don’t honor the terms of service set by the search engines. So, what kind of damage can you expect when you decide to follow these shady tactics?

Prepare for a Rank penalty

If any of the search engines (especially Google) find you violating their terms, the first thing they do is ensure that your website doesn’t appear anywhere on the first few pages of the search results. That means that all your optimization resulted merely in a waste of time and money. However, this is just a warning. If you want, you can make changes and eventually make it to the top of Google results.

Prepare to Get Banned

If you still do not follow the guidelines, then it may result in your website being completely banned from the search engine. Thus, your website won’t be listed as a result of any search queries whatsoever. If a user wants to access the website, they will have to manually type out the URL or somehow get access to the link – both being cumbersome processes. Worst case scenario, Google AdSense ends up withdrawing its services as well.

As you can clearly see, both these results will adversely affect the traffic flow to your website. Moreover, it would become infinitely harder to publicize your website. As both these aspects are affected, you can expect a reduction in revenues as well.

Then a question arises, how does one avoid using black hat SEO tactics? Well, the answer is quite simple – Choose a good SEO company!

How to choose a good SEO company?

Check their rankings

Every company tends to advertise who their past clients were. Often times they will be located on the site’s portfolio page. If they are an SEO company only and the sites are their SEO clients, manually check if these websites turn up on the first page of Google for relevant keywords. If the sites are not showing up, chances are their rankings might have dropped back down after a low-quality SEO campaign. This is not always the case, as sometimes a client will stop paying their provider after just a few months and things don’t go very far. This or cancelling later on can lead to a rankings drop that isn’t the fault of the provider. But it is safe to say that most companies should be within the first page for a handful of good, relevant keywords and if they aren’t then move on to the next company for analysis. You do not want to have your site in the same position down the road – you want lasting results that are actually beneficial in the long term.

Check their reviews

Looking at the potential SEO company’s reputation online is very important when making a hiring decision. Look on their Google My Business page for ratings of previous clients. If you see a lot of 1-3 star reviews, this can be a serious warning flag. Beware when looking at online profiles that the reviews are authentic, and perhaps even go as far as to ask the company for references that you can contact personally. If they speak highly of them, you are on the right track. It might take more time to do your homework, but it will save lots of grief to come by taking this precaution initially.

Ask about their strategy

You don’t need to know much about digital marketing for this. All you need to ensure is that they aren’t planning to do something like the tactics that we mentioned above.

Of course, when you select a reputable SEO firm to do this job, you can rest assured that we will get you results without using anything remotely related to black hat SEO. But, the rules of SEO are constantly changing along with the terms of service of search engines. So, next time you get a mail informing you about this, please do not click “I agree” without going through it. Good luck and we hope to see you at the top of the search results.

Author bio: Meredith Clawson is a digital marketing strategist with Cymax Media, a premium SEO and web design company based out of Colorado.