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Beware of the Dark Side: The Risks of Black Hat SEO and How to Avoid Them

Search Engine Optimization is good. More accurately, SEO is an essential part of the online marketing strategy for your company’s website. We’ve covered this topic before, but the affirmation of SEO’s utility is necessary given the pervasive bias against it due to the shadier practices used in this field, with just concern. Known as “Black Hat SEO” methods, they can best be described as transactional tactics, and at worst, all the negative connotations applied to overly aggressive sales and marketing practices. Your company’s success in SEO will hinge on its ability to avoid this dark side of the spectrum, coinciding with the mastery of techniques from the ethical side of the practice.

Black hat is a term originating from the world of computer hacking, as black hat hackers are whom the modern media portrays as the bad boys of the internet, busting through security measures by big name companies and the government, along with causing the digital arms race between hackers and online security companies today. Black hat SEO is the sleazy cousin to its Hell’s Angel-like hacker counterpart, foregoing the dangerous appeal while retaining its deplorable effect on business. Black hat SEO relies on simple-minded deceitfulness as opposed to earned programming or marketing skills—you may be familiar with the technique of “keyword stuffing,” which requires you to copy and paste the same popular search words repeatedly in order to artificially boost your Google ranking (no, your company is not having a special on Kardashian NFL Iowa Caucus pizza rats). This is an obvious example of the silliness that passes for SEO in the black hat world, but there are subtler methods at play as well. “Link schemes” are where a company will ask an online publisher to provide ad space along with having a link directly inserted into the content text to increase web traffic. Any blatant manipulation of content text along these lines, where it is creating traffic without adding actual value, could be considered black hat.

How do you stay out of this zone? Part of the issue with drawing arbitrary ethical boundaries is that the circumstances of your company’s business could impact how you approach your overall web marketing strategy. However, it is fair to say that there are consistent best practices in the SEO field that should be used whenever possible. To start, as mentioned in the previous article, Google has put together a convenient guide to SEO for all its new employees that covers the basics of the topic. But to really take your SEO game to the next level, you need the dedicated expertise that Sun Sign Designs can provide to your company, geared exactly towards the intricacies of your web marketing strategy. Go ahead and reach out to us today, and we’ll make sure that you hit the top of Google’s results the right way!

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