Black Hat usually refers to methods that some webmasters might use to get an unfair advantage or uses some type of trick or scheme. White Hat usually refers to just the opposite. The reason for this post is because some people think they can get away with fooling the system. Here is a list of Black Hat schemes that Google Search is well aware of.
- Cloaking – When a website shows content different to human users than what it shows to the indexing spider that Google sends to your website. Shady webmasters will usually employ this method to hide a link that directs to another website of questionable character, or redirects. Google takes this very seriously, as the sites could have malware, virus’, or any number of tricks. Bottom line: Don’t try it.
- Copied Content - Copying content off another web page is frowned upon and it will affect your websites ranking, unless you are using an excerpt, and/or linking back to the original article. When the spider indexes a site, it also cache’s it’s content and puts a timestamp on it. I ran into an issue a while back, where a website was no longer online, but it had great content of which I had saved previously. As it turned out, I was not the only person who decided to use the content, as it was useful to many people in that particular niche and it was a benefit to have that information online. Low and behold after a few months I seen another website, not owned by the original owner who had done the same thing. I knew I had the content first, but how could I say…”Hey you, why you stealing my content?” Of coarse, I could not. Sometimes Google see’s it when somebody copies your content and it might even give your website a little more weight, but only if your the first one to get it online. My website has always outranked the site that came in second place, even though they used the same content. Many other factors contribute to rank, but being first does matter. In general, you should never steal content. Google looks for duplicate content and eventually removes sites that have it, although it is a slow process.
- Hidden text/Keyword Stuffing - Hidden text on a website is a no-no. If you have a all white background and use white text, that can result in your website being removed from the search engine. There are also other methods of hiding text, such as under the folds of a layout. Google is getting good at catching these websites. Keyword stuffing is placing keywords onto a page that you desire your page to rank for, but for some reason or another you think it is too cluttered, so you attempt to hide it. Don’t try it. Websites should always be laid out in a friendly a natural way and if you have good content you won’t have to worry about ranking for the appropriate keywords.
- Parked Domains - Not necessarily a bad thing, but Google does not index parked domains.
- Automated Content - These are websites (usually blogs) that add new content automatically at a frequent rate. The problem with websites that do this is the content is usually poorly written and more resembles spam than an actual article, or the content is duplicated across many websites, so it violates #2 on the list above. These type of sites are usually directed towards people with little or no website building experience who want to earn money online without having to work. Save your money.
- Free Hosting sites that spam on your website - Let’s take a trip down memory lane and you may remember that Yahoo had free website builders, or other free website hosting like geocities. Yes, the website is free, but they also advertise on your free website. These websites are seen as low quality and maybe even spammy. There are many free hosting schemes out there, but hardly worth your trouble. The bottom line is it effects the quality of the site. These sites are generally ignored by Google and they never get indexed and if they are they are eventually removed.
- Buying links - Probably one of the most controversial black hat methods is link buying. Some argue that without buying links, how are they ever going to rank? I am guilty. PageRank use to be a huge factor in how a website was indexed, but Google has changed the way their algorithm views the growth of links. Links should grow naturally over time and usually in the same niche. I can say I never buy links anymore, since I have seen more success focusing on adding new content than wasting my money on trying to outrank the other guy. Your content will speak volumes. In my Google analytics account have a several websites that tell me that people stay, on average for 4 minutes or more. I will borrow a saying from the movie…Field of Dreams…”Built it and they will come.” If people find your website useful, they will link to it. Your website is your product and you should try to make the best product you can and that is the secret to my online success. Another thing to remember is that it takes time. People who are impatient buy links. Sometimes they get away with it. Some times they don’t.
- Spam - Sites built of gibberish with keywords inserted into the gibberish are against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
- Hacked sites - I actually had this happen to me. My hosting account was hacked. The hacker uploaded malware to one of my websites. My site was temporarily blocked by Google. The good thing was, Google gave me time to fix the issue (I switched hosting providers) and went through the process of getting my website validated and all was well. If hacked sites go ignored, Google has no other reasonable option but to block the website.
- Artificial links – Closely related to and could be a result of #7 on the list above. There is black hat software that will spam your link across the Internet on many different low quality websites. This sends a red flag to Google and could result in your site being un-indexed. The past few years, Google has cracked down on directories and link exchanges as well and consider many of them to be artificial.
- Fake links - These are links you place on your website to manipulate the users into thinking they are going somewhere they are not. For example, if you place a link on your website that says “Fresh Roses” and then when the user clicks the link they go to a porn site, gambling site, ect, that can get you banned really quick.
- Landing pages – Landing pages are usually cookie-cutter pages that have very little if any content on the page. These include pages with nothing but ads or affiliate links. See number #13.
- Affiliate pages - Affiliate links are recommended to be placed at least one page deep on your website. If your main page has more than one affiliate link, Google could penalize your website. Affiliate pages are viewed as spam.
In general, it is better to be honest with your users. Black hat methods are frowned down upon by most webmasters and only those who want to make a quick buck, those who are too lazy to create a quality website, scammers, and people who do not know any better try to utilize black hat methods to get ahead. It is better to produce a quality product and create something useful for your targeted audience. Some niche’s such as e-commerce websites, have had a hard time trying to get noticed, in the past, without employing black hat methods, but now with social media there is no longer a reason to engage in methods that are going to hurt your chances at success in the long run. Google is addressing old and new black hat methods on a monthly basis and they let us know what is going on each and every month. Visit Google’s website here—> Fighting Spam