Monday, 24 May 2010

10 Black Hat SEO Techniques

I'm a strong believer in knowing good and bad, right from wrong. I also know the darker side can be very tempting. However, actions always have repercussions or karma, which ever you want to call it. SEO strategies are two-sided; white hat and black hat techniques. Some people like to give it a third side called grey hat, but I'm not even going to try to define it. I've mentioned black hat SEO tricks a few times here and there. I figured it was time to give it a due acknowledge by proving examples and results. Note, this is not an encouragement to use it!
Black Hat SEO are techniques used to trick search engines in order to get better ranking and possibly more traffic to a website. These strategies and techniques are focused more on search engines and usually go against the norms of search engine rules and guidelines. I guess the name comes from magician tricks and the name has stuck since then.

Here's a list of some black hat seo tricks and the possible results:
  1. Keyword stuffing: This is one of the basic tricks which have been around for a while now. It's quite simple, if you want to be found for a keyword, fill your content up with that keyword. This might work for the search engines but not human users because the content ends up being ambiguous and illegible. If people can't understand what you're talking about you will most likely have a high bounce rate and not achieve any of your set goals.
  2. CSS Spamming: This is linked to the keyword stuffing. Instead of putting the keywords in plain sight, they are hidden from human eyes but visible to the search engine crawlers. Lots of people get away with this trick, however if search engines or competitors finds out you could be reported and eventually get penalised by dropped ranking or worse yet, some of your pages getting dropped off from the search engine index. 
  3. Comment Spamming: This is pretty common and frankly, there's no stopping these people! The best thing to do is set up spam filters on blogs. Due to this, some people use the no-follow index on comments. That way it prevents link flow and reduces the chance of being 'associated' with spammy websites. Spamming comments could lead to IP address/website blacklisting and reports to search engines. From a user POV, intelligent comments can actually lead to human traffic to the commenter's website. If spammy comments are being dropped you're not going to get an traffic at all. 
  4. PageRank sculpting: I've mentioned this in a past post. People use page rank to order the flow of page rank by using nofollow links. These days, links with nofollow lose the link count because it is not redistributed amongst the dofollow links, hence it is lost. This has greatly reduced the PR sculpting technique. 
  5. Content scrapers, automatic content generation: I've been having issues with this myself. Crawlers and humans alike copy your content and post it on their website. This could lead to a duplicate issue and eventually a penalty. Best thing to do is contact the scrapers to take down the content. Although, search engines usually don't penalise the first content found. Hence, if you're the original producer of the content, you have nothing to worry about, much. But it's still pretty annoying to get people stealing your content. Some tools used to check copyright are tynt and copyscape.
I decided to spilt this article in two because it was getting a bit long by my standards. I'll publish the last 5 techniques in my next post. In the meantime, which of these techniques have you tried out? I know I'm guilty of #1 and #3, but I've learnt my lesson so I quit! Do you have an experience with blackhat SEO? Would love to hear your war stories if any, or even friends of a friend's stories.

Updated: Here's the Part II on Black hat SEO.
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