Business owners and content creators alike covet the top spots in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages), and it can be tempting to try to bend the rules to bump your site up. Black hat SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is going against search engine guidelines, using unethical tactics to get a site ranking higher in search results. Resorting to black-hat SEO, however, will only lead to penalties from search engines. If you want to rank well in 2019, avoid these sneaky optimization tactics:

Keyword Stuffing

Have you ever come across a website or article where every other word is a keyword? This type of content reads as if a robot wrote it and often fails to convey any useful information. It’s like the old Flash cartoon of badgers dancing to an endless loop of the same phrases repeated over and over and is just about as annoying.

There was a time when this tactic worked, but Google and other search giants got wise to its potential for abuse. Pages stuffed with keywords and repeated phrases, including in metadata and image ALT tags, are now penalized for the practice. Websites in which keywords are used organically as part of high-quality content enjoy better rankings.

Hiding and Cloaking

Some people try to sneak in extra keywords by making the text the same color as the page so that only search engines see this “hidden” content. A similar black-hat SEO tactic involves hiding links from visitors in an attempt to increase the number of backlinks to a particular page. It doesn’t take search engines long to discover this deception and bump down pages relying on it to boost rankings.

User experience suffers when unscrupulous site owners take hiding content one step further in the form of cloaking. A cloaked site shows one page to search engines to “prove” the content is relevant to a specific search term but delivers a different, unrelated page to users who click the link in search results. Because search engines are always seeking to improve user experience, the rankings of cloaked sites also suffer once the tactic is detected.

Spun Content

Everyone knows using another person’s content is stealing, but what if you change just a few words before reposting? This sneaky form of copyright infringement is known as “spun content” and has flooded the internet with a sea of low-quality pages existing solely to drive link traffic to specific websites and or products. Spinning content is still plagiarism, and it reduces the authority of your backlink network. Combining bad content and bad links is a surefire way to incur the wrath of search engines.

Padding Your Link Network

Like content, backlinks need to be high quality and authoritative. Expanding your network by buying links or engaging in multiple link exchanges with irrelevant sites diminishes the user experience and puts your site under scrutiny. You’re also not likely to get away with posting pointless comments on blogs or social media just to drop in links to your site.

Quality content and integrity in marketing are both important for preserving the reputation of your brand. Black-hat SEO tactics may give you a temporary boost, but you’re inviting penalties and risking a loss of trust with your audience if you try to get to the top of search results using deceit. Instead, focus on creating quality content, networking with relevant influencers and interacting naturally on social media platforms to see consistent improvement in page rankings. Call us at 262.641.2613 to find out what the White Hat SEO Marketeers at SunAnt Interactive can do for you.