What is Blackhat SEO?

Episode 13 Digital Marketing Video

SEO Video
6 mins

Blackhat SEO is the process of attempting to manipulate the search engines into giving you better search results. In this video we explore what Backchat SEO is in more detail, the risk and reasons not to do it and look at some often common techniques that are used (and get busted by Google!). Not an instruction on how to do blackout SEO, but more of a guide why you shouldn’t do it and the difference between blackhat and whitehat (ethical) Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).


Hi, I'm Daniel from Target Internet. And in this video, we're going to talk about black hat search engine optimization. This is not a video telling you to do black hat SEO, actually more than anything else I'm going to tell you why you want to avoid it as much as possible, but let's start by defining what it is. So what we carry out when we go through the search engine optimization process is what we'd refer to as ethical or white hat search optimization. And that is that we're trying to help Google understand our website, and other search engines, so that we can get better search rankings. So the whole thing is trying to help the search engine to make our information as clear as possible.

Black hat SEO is all about manipulating the search engines in order to try and fool them into giving you better search rankings. So really how you define what is black hat, and what is white hat, and where is the barrier between the two, is that Google has a set of webmaster guidelines. And that is basically a set of guidelines that says what you should and you shouldn't do. And if you break those guidelines, that will be seen as black hat SEO by Google. So let me give you an example in practice, and one that Google quite openly spoke about, and it should hopefully make it very clear what this is all about.

So BMW, the car manufacturer in Germany, a number of years ago were using an agency, and that agency carried out some black hat techniques. So, fundamentally, what they did is when you came through to the website as a user, you would just see the website as normal. But when the search engine spiders, those bits of software that read your website and send the information back to Google, came through to read your website, they were shown a different version of the website. And that version of the website basically repeated words again, and again, and it packed lots of words into the website that weren't actually there in the real version.

Now, instead of this helping them in getting to the top of the search engines, what actually happened is Google noticed this, and Google has a whole team of quality engineers looking at these kind of things, and lots of automated systems to look at it as well. They identified this, and actually, BMW in Germany was removed from Google. So they weren't just taking down the searchings, they were removed completely.

Now, as you can imagine, if you get your company banned from Google, you'll not be particularly popular, which is why we want to avoid these kind of black hat techniques. So what happened at BMW? Well, fundamentally, it wasn't great for BMW obviously. So there were some staff changes that happened. Also, the agency they were using was changed. But, fundamentally, it actually wasn't great for Google that you couldn't find BMW because the reality was people are searching.

It looked stupid for Google that you couldn't find a really large website. So they were contacted. The situation was explained. They had to then go through and resubmit themself to Google once they changed things and assured Google they weren't going to do this going forwards. And they were then resubmitted into the Google index, and then they started sharp again.

But as you can see, if you're working with an agency and you don't know what they're doing, you need to be very clear on the fact they're not using these kind of black hat techniques. And, fundamentally, what Google sees should be exactly the same as what the user sees. So there's a couple of ways you can make sure you're not pushing any boundaries or doing anything that you shouldn't be doing. So, first of all, as I mentioned, there are the webmaster guidelines. So you can go through, and you can download those. And it will take you through step by step what you should and shouldn't be doing, what Google is looking for, and there's actually lots of good SEO advice in there as well that will help you optimize your website.

The other thing you should have set up is the search console. Now, we used to refer to this as the webmaster tools. And the search console, you set it up your website, and it tells you is Google having any problems accessing your content, is there anything that seems to be a problem with the spiders reading your content, but they'll also now give you some warning if they think you're doing anything dubious. So actually, now you do get the opportunity to make sure they don't think you're doing anything dubious, but also, if you do get deindexed or you get lowered down in the search results, you can resubmit yourself, or, for example, if there are lots of negative websites, there were dubious quality websites linking through to you, it gives you tools for dealing with those kind of things as well.

And there's full documentation that'll explain how to use that as well. So, for example, black hat SEO, the old school way it used to be done was, for example, if I put white text on a white background, you and I won't see that because it will just be invisible to us. But the search engine spiders would see it because it's in the code. But, actually, very simply what's going to happen is Google is going to look at the color of your text versus the color of your background and workout very quickly you're trying to hide things.

Fundamentally, what you're trying to do if you carry out black hat search optimization is outwit Google engineers, and it's probably a losing battle. They're a pretty smart bunch. So, therefore, a lot of people do this for short term gain, but for any corporate website, anything that means anything to you in the long term, you really shouldn't be using any of these practices, and you should be avoiding agencies that carry out these kind of work as well. There are less and less of them around as Google has got smarter and smarter. So a lot of the updates to the Google algorithm that you'll hear about are Penguin, and Panda, and lots of others as well, a lot of that is about the quality of websites. They're looking at quality of content, and they're trying to exclude websites that don't reach those quality guidelines. So make sure you've looked at the quality guidelines. Make sure you've got the search console installed, and stick to the fundamentals of going through and creating great quality content.

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