It is suggested that the terms “Black Hat” and “White Hat” originates back to the early Western movies… where the bad guys wore black hats – and the good guys wore… yes you’ve guessed it, white hats.
As with most things, if there’s a faster or easier way of achieving something… then people will want to try it – that’s what Black Hat SEO is. I’ll happily microwave scrambled eggs rather than take the time in the saucepan, and then have that joy of scraping off cooked egg! But this Black Hat methodology goes back to when Search Engines were a lot less sophisticated than they are today.
Black Hat SEO is Search Engine Optimisation using methods that can whizz you up the rankings in the short term… but that risk you being blacklisted by Search Engines in the longer term. We at Gandy-Draper choose not to use these methods on our clients’ websites.
Building a site with Black Hat
A website that is built around blackhat methods will be generated from an expansive keyword list, and may use cloaking and re-directs to show something different to Search Engines that a human user would not be able to see.
Promoting a site with Black Hat
This would include forum spamming, blog spamming, mass social bookmarking, social networking exploitation and masses of RSS submissions.
For example, it used to be common practise to place white text onto a white background, filling it with content that a normal person wouldn’t see, but that Search Engines could pick up.
Unfortunately we still see this all too often. Link farming is when a website has oodles and oodles of irrelevant links – sometimes reaching into many many pages. The site owner has heard “links are good” and thinks that by getting hundreds or even thousands onto his site without regard for relevancy that this can help. That really is naive, but don’t take our word for it – Google has its own views here too.
Meta Keyword Stuffing.
This is when the website has its key words literally stuffed over and over again into its headers. It’s overkill for search engines, and has been basically ignored since the late ’90s.
These are pages that are specifically built to target a number of phrases, which when clicked upon, send you in a different direction – which they know by viewing your IP address. These are also known as Gateway pages, Portal pages and Entry pages.
This is a site (also known as “Made for Adsense” site) which continuously scrapes results from Search Engines in order to drive traffic to its own pages. These sites are generally either chock-full of advertising, or of redirects to other websites.
Buying Expired Domains
It is common knowledge that Search Engines prefer more established sites, than brand new ones. So people buy recently expired sites… and pop their content on… hoping to be taken more seriously. Unfortunately for these people – Google automatically resets its cache when a domain expires.
So what’s the upshot then?
With most of this, it’s the scale upon which it’s done rather than what is actually being carried out that makes it blackhat. Many site owners will comment in a forum, post their link on MySpace or Facebook, or on a blog in order to get their backlink – but it’s when it is done without providing quality information, that it is considered spamming or blackhat. This risks you being banned or blacklisted from these sites.
Anyway… We’d rather not take the risks with our own sites, and any of our clients. We would however encourage all Black Hat Experts to carry on – after all… it teaches Google the newer tricks… and make sure that those with quality content and well designed sites will get the recognition they deserve. The Black Hatters can take the gamble, and we’ll stay within the safety net.