Black Hat SEO, is it Worth It?

December 28, 2010

If you have worked on anything related to Internet marketing, you surely must have come across requests of the kind: “Get my website high on the first page of the search results, I don’t care how you do it”, followed by a wink-wink and possibly a reference to Black Hat SEO.

Now, if you were an unethical person who only cares about how to squeeze as much money as possible from your customers, with no regard for long-term consequences, you could just go ahead and use some of the available and unethical Black Hat SEO methods in order to obtain a (temporary) high ranking on search engine’s results for your customer’s website, get the money and run. As fast as you can.

Black Hat

But if you had some ethical (and common) sense, you would have to explain to your client that using Black Hat SEO techniques is definitely a bad idea. The line of argumentation is simple. Only a fool would ever dream of fooling Google and its team of top-notch engineers. There’s no such thing as effective Black Hat SEO, no matter how much money you pour onto it. But sure there is something called blacklisting from Search Engines, and it has ruined many a promising website.

Below I’m listing some of the “tricks” that will get a website blacklisted in the short, medium or not-so-long term:

  1. Stuffing your website with keywords that don’t relate to the content of the website and makes no sense to human users.
  2. Making the text invisible by applying the same color as the page’s background. This was a very old trick that allowed to place huge amounts of keyword-enriched text without spoiling user’s experience, but nowadays search engines can easily detect it and blacklist the whole site in no time. And yes, in case you’re wondering, they can detect it on CSS style-sheets as well, so don’t even try.
  3. Doorway pages that are designed for spamming the index of a search engine by inserting results for particular phrases, and fast-forwarding visitors to the real content once they land. No, no, no.
  4. Getting a huge amount of links from “link farms”, thereby artificially inflating the page rank of the linked page. It’s also an old technique that today’s search engines are quick to spot. It used to be that a website could get penalized for receiving such paid links, but then Google realized that there were people who would buy those links and point them to competitor’s websites in what was called “Google Bowling”, so they decided not to penalize them either. Matt Cutts, who works for the Search Quality group in Google, and specializes in search engine optimization issues explained how Google deals with Google Bowling:

    The short answer is we try really hard to make sure that one person can’t Google bowl another person. You try to include it in your algorithm so much that you don’t want those links to count, but you don’t necessarily want anyone to be in a position where somebody else could try to hurt you …

    We try to make it so that it doesn’t cause a drop in your rankings (if a competitor tries to hurt you). We try to do stuff algorithmically, we use manual means … we’ve been pretty clear that we do not like paid links and we take action on it, but at the same time, we try very hard to make it so that just because somebody else doesn’t like you, they can’t submarine your rankings and things like that.

    In any case, what all this ultimately means is that if you decide to buy links from these farms you’ll be basically wasting your money, as they will have zero influence in your rankings in the long term.

There are many more Black Hat SEO techniques, but the bottom line is that using them  to increase your rankings on search engines will ultimately achieve the opposite effect, maybe not immediately, but as soon as you get caught (and you will get caught eventually, harbour no doubts about it), your website will be immediately pushed down on the search results, or what’s even worse, blacklisted from search engines’ indexes.

You’d be better off by investing your money on building an honest and down-to-earth SEO campaign using ethical SEO techniques, such as creating compelling content. Just be patient and remember that SEO does take time, high rankings do not happen overnight. Honesty and perseverance are two of the main ingredients to achieve the rankings you’re aiming for.

RackNine can help you develop the right SEO campaign for your website.
Please contact us for more information and to learn more about all the available options.