Friday, July 24, 2009

5 Forms of Black Hat Marketing and How to Avoid Them

by Carol Palmatier

The term "black hat marketing" may be unfamiliar if you're just learning about search engine optimization. Think for a moment about Westerns and how good guys wore white hats, bad guys wore black hats. That concept is how black hat marketing got its name.

Any marketing that uses dishonest or illegitimate methods to increase traffic is considered black hat. Black hat SEO may work for a while but is not considered legitimate by search engine terms. It is used primarily by people who expect their website will be banned at some point.

Websites that specialize in scamming people or performing some other illegal activity most often use black hat techniques. This drives a lot of traffic to their site very quickly. They make their money then the website is banned.


A number of methods are included in the broad term spamdexing. Search spam and search engine spam are two other popular names for this form of black hat marketing.

Search engines use specific algorithms to determine the relevancy of links and text in a website. Relevant text is legitimate, irrelevant text is not.

Keywords are necessary for proper indexing by search engines. When used in a legitimate manner, keywords bring traffic to a website and help increase page rank. Repetition of words or phrases on a single page is considered a form of spamdexing.

Avoid spamdexing with well-written web content that is honest and to the point. Never create disillusionments for your reader. Successful businesses thrive on honesty.

Link Farms

Link farm popularity began in 1999. Inktomi was a popular search engine that indexed websites based primarily on link popularity. The more links your website had, the better.

As time and technologies change, so did Inktomi which was later bought by Yahoo! Algorithms changed and link popularity became second to other indexing methods.

Link farms were very effective in the late 90s through most of 2000. The method was very simple. Find a link farming website, list your domain and link back. Link sharing was much more effective 10 years ago as well.

Avoid link farms by simply not using them. Create a link building campaign by getting involved in blogs that allow comments and message forums. Always create links from websites that are relevant to your own.

Keyword Stuffing

Keywords are a great thing for search engines. Unfortunately some people go overboard. Proper keyword density should be no higher than 3 percent.

Make sure each page on your website has no more than 2 instances of a specific keyword per 100 words. A 500-word web page should never contain more than 10 instances of a single keyword or phrase. Keyword stuffing carries a negative impact on a website.

Avoid keyword stuffing by using well-written content. Hire a writer who is familiar with proper keyword use and techniques to help raise your page rank. Don't use words that aren't relevant to your content.

Hidden Text

Text can be easily hidden by making the text the same color as the background of the website. People who use spamdexing as a form of marketing often use hidden text. Spiders and crawlers find the words and index them but they're not obviously visible to the reader.

Hidden text is not a legitimate form of marketing and runs the risk of banning or other penalties. To reveal hidden text, you may use a text-only browser or highlight the entire page using your mouse. Just left click and drag the mouse cursor down the page.

Avoid using hidden text if you plan to SEO your website and increase traffic. Hiding extra keywords may temporarily increase traffic but search engines will discover it and penalize your site.

Doorway or Cloaked Pages

Doorway pages are single web pages that redirect visitors to another page without their knowledge. They're often advertised in several ways with many different keywords. When someone clicks it from a search engine, they're redirected with a quick meta refresh.

The refresh happens so quickly that most people don't even notice. Clicking on a link from a search engine results page and landing somewhere completely different is an example of a doorway or cloaked page.

Avoid using doorway or cloaked pages. You may receive a great deal of traffic right away but the overall consequences are not desirable. Your website could be banned.

About the Author

Carol Palmatier is Vice President of Marketing for the premium article distribution service; Article Marketer, and a "Word of Mouth" marketing expert. Learn how to get quality backlinks here.