Appearing on the first page of Google is vital for business growth but there’s a proper and wrong way of doing search engine optimisation (SEO). The dark and manipulative art of black hat SEO is the wrong way.

Every digital marketing guide will tell you that it’s important to engage in natural link building, rather than use shady tactics to land a spot on the first page of the SERP. Black hat SEO aims to game search engine algorithms, rather than provide solutions to online users. If you use black hat SEO, you can be completely wiped out from the face of Google and any other search engine.

Be aware of these black hat techniques so you don’t receive penalties that can hurt your website temporarily or even permanently.

Keyword stuffing/cloaking

The first step in SEO basics for beginners is to build a comprehensive keyword strategy. This strategy encompasses any search terms related to your business, products or any other information you are looking to put on your website. But, the keywords that are appropriate for your products or services may not necessarily be used often enough to generate a large enough search volume.

In the past, digital marketers would counter this by finding high-traffic keywords – whether related to the actual product or not – and sprinkling them into their websites. This way, search engine crawlers that track down content detect those high-traffic keywords, boosting the traffic and authority of the sites.

However, over the years, search engines have become much more advanced and intelligent. They have begun to penalise websites for creating pages with irrelevant search terms. Today, the most efficient way to rise up the ranks is to create an SEO strategy that focuses on the website’s goals by utilising accepted SEO tactics that provide organic and long-term traffic gains.

Duplicating content

Once you’ve searched for relevant keywords, it’s often tempting to create content around search terms that will generate huge amounts of web traffic. In the early days of SEO, some marketers would publish content that repeated the same words or phrases to strengthen their website.

Not only does this technique no longer work, it’s now penalised by search engines. It also creates an awkward experience for readers who have previously encountered similar content to yours. The most effective way to counter this is by creating content that flows naturally while still keeping your keywords in mind. Ensure that when you create your website content, you are writing for your target audience, not just for search engines.

Buying external links

business presentation

Aside from creating targeted content, it’s also essential to make sure that your website is being referenced by external sources. Search engines measure this by crawling through other websites and searching for hyperlinks that point to your website. But, once SEO marketers discovered this, they began buying hyperlink placements on highly relevant websites. Search engines got wind of this technique and started penalising websites.

The best way to have your content referenced is to cultivate relationships with your industry’s influencers. Generally, it’s recommended to have members of your marketing team reach out to media outlets that can share your content. These relationships can also generate higher amounts of referral traffic to your site and new sales opportunities.

There’s no doubt that black hat SEO is a risky strategy that’s not worth investing in. If you avoid manipulative SEO tactics, your campaign strategies will pay dividends in the long run and you can sleep at night knowing you’ll not suffer from nasty penalties.