We have taken some time to delve into the inner-workings of SEO and particularly the different hats. Black-Hat SEO is one of the topics we discussed in that article, and although it can seem like a lucrative path to take, it is not ethical at all. Black-Hat embodies a lot of what is wrong with the internet nowadays, and is usually the cause of the frustration that comes of it. In this article, we will discuss the ways in which people have, and still do, misuse the internet for personal gain. Hopefully this will help you understand their tactics and motives, and help guard against falling victim to it.
Firstly, what is Black-Hat SEO?
It is basically a general term for spamming and other techniques, specifically aimed at influencing Search Engine indexes. The people who do this make use of all kinds of programs and software to sift information, collect data, find loopholes, infect and zombify pages to do their bidding. Like Viruses! If you are going to protect yourself from this perpetual onslaught, its time to study the enemy.
Below are the ways in which Black-Hat SEO could affect you and/or your website;
Cookies are bits of code received by your browser from websites you visit. Black-Hatters can send your browser cookies, that will communicate with other websites when you visit them, telling them that you arrived on their site through their paid advertising. You obviously did not, but this will mess with the trusted website’s statistics on their users.
Hidden Text and Links:
Invisible images and text loaded with keywords placed on web pages. The viewer would not see any of these items, but the Search Engines would still pick up on them. How cheeky!
A copy is made of a trusted website. That site is then used to steal users’ information, for redirecting them to low quality sites, and for other purposes.
URL 301 and Meta Tag Redirections
Another technique used in Black-Hat, consists of various redirections to pages of other websites.
Involves the creation of multiple fake personalities with the simple intention of using them for spam linking/commenting purposes.
This technique involves creating a full copy of one site, and adding it to another, already-existing website – all in the interest of stealing visitors and content from the original site.
Websites that publish and/or sell content collected from hundreds and thousands of other websites.
Buying Expired Domains
If a website with a good reputation has its domain expire, that domain is then purchased and set up redirect to a third party site – making use of its old reputation to boost said website.
Pages that are stuffed with keywords in order to gain ranking. Sites that redirect to other pages by use of “Click Here To Enter” are placed in the same category.
This gave rise to a new type of software, the Article Spinner. What they do is that they automatically rewrite articles in new words. This makes the new articles unique and can thus be used multiple times. This can be done by manually, but this is time-consuming.
Short for Spam Blog. Usually created for the sole purpose of generating backlinks to a particular website. These sites tend to be low quality because not much time is invested in making lots of them.
Using Open Pages
This is another technique, using community driven pages to generate backlinks and redirect to a particular website. Some of the older community forums do not have the modern protection of today’s websites, that, coupled with their reputation leaves them open to spam attacks.
A very common technique. Pages are basically stuffed with as many references to that page’s keywords as possible. Does not make for pleasant reading for users.
Every page has a Meta-Tag, the short description of the page you see in the results on a Search Engine query. Black Hatters stuff these tags with as many references of the page’s keywords as possible. This has, however, been proven to be ineffective since 2005.
Hidden Text and Links
This used to be very common, Hatters used to place hidden links all over the page – basically redirecting you to another particular website on any click of the mouse.
Websites who’s only purpose is to backlink to as many other websites as possible.
Buying and Selling Links
Similar to Organic Link Building, backlinks and redirects are bought and sold online. This mimics normal human behaviour and thus why it has been around for so long. Today, this is quite popular with services offering to backlink on authority websites like .edu sites.
Online chat pages allow users to post comments and questions after making a profile that includes, guess what, a URL. It is very common for Black Hatters to create fake profiles, using them to create comments (which act as backlinks) and post questions.
Blog Comment Spam
Most blogs allow readers to leave comments on their pages. This used to leave them open to similar attacks as the community and forum sites. Luckily, blogs caught onto this and instituted new levels of security, as well as moderation. This means that anyone who wants to leave a comment can do so, but it will not be posted until a moderator of the site has approved it.
Well there you go, a very very long explanation of how Black-Hatters used to, and still do, operate. All of these techniques are quite inventive but ultimately resulted in some of the toxic and unhealthy interactions taking place on the internet. But there is good news; Knowing is half the battle, and now you know! Keep your eyes peeled and be careful what you click on – like those big, shiny “DOWNLOAD” buttons you see on some websites. Just don’t, but learn to spot the difference between real and fake.
Keep each other safe on that cat-video-infested smorgasbord that is our precious internet. And we here at BFS will do our utmost to keep you guys updated on exactly what to keep your eyes out for.