Search engine optimization (SEO) is a broad and complicated beast that is forever evolving. And just like anything in life, where there is money to be made there are con-artists looking to take advantage.
This is why it is so important that you take your time to educate yourself on SEO and ensure that when you do sign up with a third-party digital marketing agency, that you have absolute faith in their reputation.
In this article, we’re going to focus specifically on blackhat SEO; what is it and how can you avoid it?
What is blackhat SEO?
Blackhat SEO, in a nutshell, refers to any and all practices that go against search engine guidelines in order to gain higher rankings in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
In other words, cutting corners and manipulating the system to get fast results.
Here are some of the most common examples of blackhat techniques:
- Using “invisible” text to increase a web-page’s word count.
- Building doorway pages (manipulating search engine indexes by inserting results for specific phrases while linking visitors to an entirely unrelated page).
- Keyword stuffing (e.g., “if you want to buy the best hats in Dallas, look no further than Dallas hats: your number one stop for hats in Dallas for Dallas residents who love to wear Dallas hats”).
- Page swapping (aka bait and switch), refers to the blackhat technique where you get a web page indexed and ranking for a specific search phrase and then change the content entirely.
- Buying bulk links (10,000 high-quality links for less than it would cost you to enjoy the best steak dinner in Dallas? No thanks!)
As you can see, all of the above techniques are effectively ‘cheating’. Cutting corners and trying to get to the finish line without completing the obstacle course.
In particular, link-building is easy to fall prey to. OK, 10,000 links for less than a steak dinner might be an exaggeration, but you’d be surprised by how ‘attractive’ many of these offers are.
Simply put, if a marketer comes to you and offers you a ridiculously high number of backlinks for a seemingly impossibly low price, then it is absolutely not worth it.
When it comes to SEO, if something seems too good to be true, it is.
Quality over quantity, always.
Blackhat always fails
Trying to fool Google is like trying to tickle Mike Tyson into submission; they’re going to tie you up in knots.
Many inequitable “SEO companies” will utilise these ‘blackhat’ methods to deliver fast results so that they can take your money. Needless to say, those fast results won’t last and before long you’ll be back at the bottom of the pile, only with a blacklisted website.
Google does not mess around with things like this – and neither should you.
How to avoid blackhat SEO?
Ultimately, there are two ways to avoid blackhat SEO:
- Do your research and handle all of your SEO tasks by yourself (an impossibly time-consuming task).
- Or, hire a reputable SEO company that has a proven track record of success.
The latter is our recommendation.
If you take your time and do enough research, you won’t have much difficulty finding the right SEO company. While there are definitely loads of scammers and con-artists out there, there is also an abundance of high-quality, trustworthy, and decent SEO companies who only have your best interest at heart.
You don’t necessarily have to be in the same geographical location as your SEO company. In fact, you could be in the States and work with a UK based SEO company and experience success. However, if you would rather look your consultant in the eye, then it may be worth going local. For example, if you are a Dallas-based business, shortlist some agencies that do SEO in Dallas and then go from there.