Avoid Black Hat SEO: Preserve Your Rankings And Reputation
The good guys wear white hats, and the bad guys wear black hats. It’s an old saying especially common in the genre of western movies in the US. Similarly, we have white hat SEO and black hat SEO. Problems arise when white hat inadvertently edges toward or even becomes black hat SEO – often a real concern for leisure providers and tour operators whose area of expertise is definitely not SEO.
What Is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO is any underhanded practice in violation of a search engine’s guidelines used to rank higher in search results. The idea is to “game” the search engine algorithms to get an unfair advantage over competitors vying for those same spots in the search engine rankings. While black hat techniques do work, the effect is often short term, and the ultimate result is usually penalization and/or a drastic drop in rankings.
Common black hat tactics include:
Cloaking – This practice involves presenting one piece of content to searchers/users, but showing a different piece of content to search engines. The idea is to get content to rank for keywords that are actually irrelevant to the content.
Keyword stuffing – A related black hat SEO tactic, keyword stuffing involves filling a piece of content with all kinds of variations of a keyword to manipulate search results. But it creates a poor-quality user experience, making the page rank for irrelevant queries.
Shady redirects – This is simply the practice of sending a user to a URL different from the one they actually clicked and so sending them to an unexpected destination.
Paid links – Multiple backlinks will help search engine results. Black hat tactics manipulate rankings by buying a ton of backlinks. This is considered a link scheme and is in violation of Google’s ToS.
Make sure to read our latest blog article: 5 Crucial Technical SEO Tactics to Improve Your Rankings. But in the following we will tell you what you should avoid at any cost!
Results of Black Hat SEO
Now, here are three examples of what can happen with inadvertent or deliberate deploying of black hat SEO tactics:
BMW– Back in 2006, when the practice was a little shady but still common, BMW was using “doorway pages” – “a kind of redirect designed specifically for search engines.” And at the time, they held the number-one spot for several important keywords. But when Google discovered this use of doorway pages, BMW’s site was penalized, and its domain authority plummeted to zero. So any kind of page created with the sole purpose of inflating rankings is a risk and can put you right back to square one ranking-wise.
Brad Gerlach– Online entrepreneur Brad Gerlach used a link wheel to gain momentum and rankings for his site. A link wheel is an “SEO linking scheme that involves a paid exchange of links for the purpose of manipulating search engine rankings.” It does work – for a while. Gerlach expanded his linking scheme, scaled up with content spinning, and was listed high in the search results for many pages on several of his sites. Eventually, though, his black hat techniques were discovered, and his rankings and pages fell into obscurity.
Trolling Motors– Trolling Motors, a site created by Andrew Youderian, achieved high rankings when Youderian enlisted the aid of a supposedly reputable SEO agency. But unknown to Youderian, the agency was using black hat tactics like “spammy, keyword-rich anchor text and unnatural, manipulative posts for links on off-site sources.” Then, in 2012 when Google’s Penguin update hit, the bottom fell out Trolling Motors’ ranking, and the site lost 80% of its traffic.
Two Keys to Avoid Inadvertent Black Hat SEO
Now, we’re certain you wouldn’t deliberately engage in any black hat SEO practices. Sometimes, though, it’s not that hard to do inadvertently, so here are two keys to avoid inadvertent black hat SEO.
Avoid keyword stuffing at all costs. It’s not really that difficult to commit this offense in an effort to get as many of those critical keywords as possible in a piece of content. The trick here is to let keywords appear naturally – don’t force them in where and how it doesn’t feel right – and shoot for a keyword density of between 1% and 3%.
Also, ensure that your content is both helpful and relevant. Search engine algorithms are now geared toward ensuring a good experience for readers/users. As always, the purpose of content – blog posts, landing pages, articles, reviews – is to build a relationship based on trust.
As a leisure provider and tour operator, your reputation is your most valuable asset. So you must avoid black hat SEO like the plague. And as a premier provider of booking software, Regiondo can help you enhance and retain that reputation. Our Knowledge Base is the best source to learn how you can implement white hat SEO in your website. If you still need support and help, we are just one email away.