The Dark Side of SEO: Why Black Hat SEO is a Bad Idea.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “black hat SEO” refers to shady and unethical practices that some so-called “experts” use to try and game the system. While it might be tempting to cut corners and take shortcuts regarding your SEO strategy, the truth is that black hat SEO will do more harm than good in the long run.

Here’s a look at what it is and why black hat SEO is a bad idea.

1. You’ll get penalised by Google.

Google is looking for evidence that the businesses they put at the top of their list are authentic and provide high-quality content for their customers. By engaging in good SEO, you’re proving that you belong high up on that list, on page 1, not page 22.

One of the most common black hat SEO tactics is keyword stuffing: when a website crams as many keywords into its content as possible to rank higher for those keywords. It’s what many people think of when you talk about SEO, and it was much more helpful in the early 2000s when people would create pages with a nonsense list of terms designed to increase their rankings.

Google’s algorithms have become much more sophisticated since then, mainly to stop that practice. They can now quickly identify when a site is engaging in keyword stuffing. If caught doing it, Google will likely push you back down the list, which could hurt your ranking and visibility.

2. It’s not sustainable.

Even if you manage to rank highly using black hat tactics, it will not last. Google is constantly updating its algorithms, and as soon as they catch on to what you’re doing, they’ll adjust accordingly, and you’ll be back to square one. In contrast, white hat SEO tactics provide quality content and create a solid overall website—both of which are much more sustainable in the long run.

3. It’s unethical (and sometimes even illegal).

In addition to being against Google’s guidelines, black hat SEO tactics are also generally considered unethical. After all, you’re trying to game the system instead of playing fair and providing value for users. Sometimes, black hat tactics can also be illegal, such as buying links or hacking websites. 

So if it’s so bad, why do people use it? Because it works. At least in the short term. Once Google catches on, you’re often pushed back beyond square one. From our point of view, it’s more list square -23, where you’re stuck trying to undo the damage caused by shady tactics. As tempting as it might be to take shortcuts with your SEO strategy, black hat SEO is a bad idea for several reasons. You will likely get penalised by Google when caught engaging in shady practices. The truth is that using black hat tactics is unsustainable and unethical. It’s much better to play fair and focus on creating quality content that will provide value for users and help your business rank highly in search results over the long haul.

To learn more about SEO and how it can benefit your business, check out our podcast episode at Spill the Tea. For more info on black hat SEO and what specific practices to avoid, check out our article here.

Need help with your SEO? Contact us today.

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About Kira Carlin
Kira is a cat lady, former journo, knitter of jumpers. She handles digital business, product photography and media within the team. She holds the title for most cups of coffee drunk in a day.