What is "black hat" search engine optimization? How can it hurt my web site's search engine rankings?
"Black Hat" SEO is the "dark side" of search engine optimization that can hurt your site's traffic if it's done incorrectly. It's named after the "bad guy" characters in old cowboy movies who always wore a black hat.
While most search engine optimization techniques are neutral or positive, there are some approaches that you (or your consultants) need to avoid. Deliberately engaging in these tactics to fool the search engines into ranking your site higher is a "black hat" strategy.
* Keyword stuffing: Search engines index a site in their rankings based on the key words that site presents to their indexing crawlers. Stuffing extra keywords into the site’s pages deliberately to influence a search engine’s rankings is called keyword stuffing. This can be done visibly (although it usually makes the text awkward to read). Keywords can also be “stuffed” invisibly by hiding text on web pages that is the same color as the page’s background. This invisible text can conceal extra keywords and links that only a search engine spider will see.
* Link Spam: Because search engine rankings rely heavily on the number of links back to a web site from other sites, “link spam” is a common black hat technique. This involves placing links to the client site on other sites, even where inappropriate or uninvited. Links in blog posts, links in blog comments, and building of new pages or sites specifically to fill them with additional link-backs (“link farms”) are common examples of link spam.
* Article Repurposing: Copying and modifying of content such as articles can also be used for black hat SEO. This technique places a slightly modified article repeatedly across the web so that its keywords and links get counted multiple times by the search engines.
* Cloaking: A web site can be designed so that it shows different content, images, keywords and links to a search engine bot than to a human. This deceptive delivery of content causes the search engine to index the site differently than a human would in order to gain additional ranking points.
All of these strategies can be used conservatively and fairly but when abused they are “black hat” SEO techniques. Black hat SEO tactics violate the terms of service for most search engines. Violation of search engine guidelines like this can result in your web site being banned from listing by search engines!
There's no need to cheat to improve your site's search engine rankings. Avoid "black hat" techniques by ensuring that any SEO consultants, software, or services you use only use legitimate and ethical techniques.
Thanks for writing,