As a business owner, you know how important it is to utilize a smart, well-planned marketing strategy. To do this, you may turn to professionals. 

While this will help you achieve the desired results (in most cases), it’s worth noting that not all marketing companies are the same. If you aren’t careful, you may think you have found a quality, honest marketing company that will use the wrong tactics to help you gain traction in SERPs. 

Unfortunately, gray and black hat marketing techniques may provide quick results, but serious issues may arise in the long term. Keep reading to learn more about misdirection in the marketing realm and some of the tactics used by less-than-honest marketing companies to try to gain your business. 

Black Hat SEO Defined

Black hat SEO is the term used to describe the set of practices that go against set search engine guidelines. They are used to help boost your site’s rank in search engine results pages. 

When black hat SEO techniques are used, they ignore searcher intent to bypass best practices and cheat the system to gain search visibility by using unscrupulous practices. 

Understanding black hat practices require you to understand better how black and white hat SEO differ:

  • White Hat SEO: When used, these practices follow set search engine guidelines to increase your site’s rankings ethically. 
  • Black Hat SEO: If black hat tactics are used, they will exploit search engine guidelines to try to boost your rankings in SERPs. 

Some marketing companies decide to use black hat tactics over white hat SEO tactics because they believe it is possible to improve search visibility faster and at a more affordable rate by “game” the search engine algorithms. 

Unfortunately (as mentioned above), black hat SEO can hurt your long-term SEO more than it will help it. 

Reasons to Avoid Using Black Hat SEO Tactics

One of the top reasons to avoid using black hat SEO as part of your content marketing strategy is pretty simple – you aren’t considering the end-user. This means you aren’t creating material relevant to your buyer persona. 

When this happens, you aren’t being fair to individuals you want to convince to buy from you. 

However, that’s not the only issue. You aren’t being honest with your competition, either. Remember, everyone is fighting for the resources and attention of users. 

While this is true, you still need to play fair and surpass the competition using honest techniques and by providing superior services and products to your potential client. 

Black hat SEO tactics are appealing because they will help generate almost instant returns. Your brand and site will appear at the top of SERPs, making it appealing to click. However, if someone does click your site, they will likely be disappointed because the content offered isn’t relevant to the end-user. 

Unfortunately, your bounce rate will increase significantly when the content doesn’t meet an end user’s need. Consider this – you click a page because it is one of the first results. You access the content, but discover the information is irrelevant, unattractive, or doesn’t offer any value. What’s the result? You likely leave the site right away. 

This is yet another factor to remember when discussing why it is best to avoid black hat SEO tactics. 

Remember, Google doesn’t approve of this. Not only that, when Google discovers your site is using these tactics, you will face consequences that can have devastating effects on your entire online presence. 

Getting to Know the Different Types of Black Hat SEO Tactics 

Even if you plan on hiring someone else to handle your online marketing efforts, it’s smart to learn what black hat SEO tactics are. After all, if the company you hire uses them, it will affect your site and rankings. Because of this, knowing what they are is imperative. 

The most common black hat tactics include:

  • Keyword stuffing: Filling up your web pages with unnecessary and irrelevant keywords is done to manipulate your page’s appearance in SERPs. 
  • Reporting the competition: This tactic involves reporting your competition so the site is penalized or banned, which results in your site ranking higher. 
  • Hidden text: Hiding text on a web page will cause the page to rank for those keywords; however, the words won’t be visible on the web page itself. 
  • Buying links: Paying another website to link to your content is banned by all search engines. 
  • Cloaking: This is done by disguising the real content that is shown to users and showing different content to search engines. 
  • Sneaky redirects: With this, users are sent to a URL other than the one they clicked to visit. It may direct users to one page and the search engine spiders to another one. It works like cloaking. 

These tactics are considered shady and used to manipulate where your page ranks in SERPs. Unfortunately, they can also create difficulty and a sense of chaos for online users. These tactics also negatively impact other sites, such as your competition. While you want to outrank the competition, you need to use white hat SEO techniques. 

Potential Penalties and Consequences of Using Black Hat SEO

If you engage in black hat SEO techniques or the marketing company you hire, you will be penalized and face the consequences. That’s because you are not using unique and accurate techniques and content that follow the strict guidelines set by search engines. This will impact your search rankings, and you may face fines that must be paid to keep your website online. 

You may wonder how to tell if Google has penalized your website. There are a few signs. 

For example, if you notice a sudden and significant drop in traffic, and you know black hat techniques have been used, there’s a good chance Google banned your site for these unethical practices. Additionally, your website may be penalized or blacklisted if the techniques you use are bad enough. 

The Importance of Sticking with White Hat SEO Tactics 

White hat SEO is an effective, approved method of improving your SERP rank. White hat SEO is a term that refers to tactics approved by all the major search engines. You can increase your site’s ranking and overall visibility with these tactics. Over time, this will naturally improve your site’s quality and performance. 

Quality, ethical marketing companies will use data analysis to research your target audience and determine what they are searching for or engaging with while they are online. At this point, your site will be optimized to align with the demands of your audience. 

Usually, this involves the creation of relevant, quality content that includes effective descriptions and improving the overall site to ensure a good user experience. 

Alternatives to Black Hat Tactics That Provide Results 

It’s important to understand what black hat tactics ensure your marketing company does not use them. Unfortunately, many service providers do. 

Along with making sure these practices are not used on your website, getting to know some effective and ethical ways to boost your site’s ranking can be helpful. Keep reading to learn what these are. 

Create a Mobile-Friendly Site 

Today, most people access the internet on their mobile devices. Because of this, you must make sure your site and pages can be viewed on any screen size. 

You must have a mobile-friendly site with a responsive web design to do this. This is something valued by Google and may give you a boost in rankings. 

Keyword Selection Considerations 

Using the right keywords will also benefit your ranking in SERPs. A tip for this is to watch the “related searches” Google offers at the end of a search. 

This is where you can find possible terms to add to your website or blog. 

Meta Descriptions

It’s not enough just to rank well. You must convince users to click the page, and a great way to do this is by writing quality meta descriptions. 

When you do this, you have another chance to show site visitors that your page is full of the content they are searching for. It will also increase the likelihood that the person searching will click your page. 

Avoiding Marketing Companies That Use Black Hat SEO Techniques 

Owning a business requires a lot of time, work, and effort. You put your faith in the third-party services you hire, including your marketing company, to fill in gaps and handle things you don’t have time to do yourself. 

Unfortunately, if you aren’t careful, you may hire a marketing company that uses black hat techniques for “fast results.” While this may seem fine at first, this will only hurt your website and business over time.

When you are ready to hire a marketing service, be sure that you hire a company that only uses white hat techniques and that has proven results. Being informed and knowing what black hat tactics are is half the battle. It’s up to you to ensure you only hire honest marketing companies to handle your site. Being informed is the best way to ensure you achieve the desired results for your website.