SEO Evolution and Persistence of Black Hat Practices


When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), things are ever changing and yet not when it comes to scammers. Many businesses continue to be ensnared in the trap of hiring an online marketing company that uses what should by now be antiquated black hat methods. There are certain rules websites are supposed to abide by. Search engines provide guidelines to ensure that sneaky tactics aren’t giving a website undeserved top ranking on results pages. When strategies on a website break the rules, they are considered “black hat methods.” Websites are often severely penalized after scamming is detected. It’s important to hire a company that keeps up with current SEO algorithms and uses only white hat methods to achieve top ranking.

The Evolution of SEO

Optimizing a Page

SEO has been an evolving challenge or scam, depending on how you approach it. Hopefully, you’re not among the scammers; but there are a lot of tricksters out there. So you never know. In the beginning, optimization was a lot simpler than it is today. To achieve optimization, the procedure was to include between two and five keywords per online page or URL. The keywords were included in the title, headings, body content, and meta description.

The best SEO on a page now involves much more. Components of a job done right include:

  • Optimizing and amplifying new content.
  • Optimizing existing content.
  • Reinforcing the brand by capturing social signals.
  • Including links to authoritative sites, to improve ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Device Optimization

When search engines were first introduced, desktops were the primary device people used to go web surfing. It was important that websites had nice graphics and were user-friendly. Considerations for SEO included placing the information visitors wanted most in the top part of a page so that no scrolling was needed.

Then mobile devices began to dominate the user experience. Unbeknownst to many business owners, a web page does not automatically convert for optimal use on screens of varying sizes. An essential step in SEO today is to ensure that the website users see is also user-friendly on their cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices. The dynamics of what to put on a desktop page are very different from what a mobile user wants to see. In 2015, mobile devices surpassed desktops, as far as the number of searches performed on Google.

Social Sharing

Instant messaging and email were the chief methods of sharing web information, when SEO was new. How things have changed!

Social media has become the latest method for creating explosive opportunities for exposure. SEO and social media are currently inseparable, for top SEO agencies. Social networks are friendly gateways for consumer engagement, increased brand exposure, and growing audiences. Maximum exposure is simply not possible without social media marketing.

Local Listings

With the changing of search engine algorithms has come drastic alterations in gaining high SERP ranking as a local listing. A particular update referred to as “The Pigeon Update” has changed SEO as regards local listings. Those that rocket to the top now do so more because of positive reviews. Previously, various keyword tactics, many of them historically in the black hat column, achieved SEO success with local listings.

Link Building

Links have consistently played an important role in SEO. Pages with quality links have always ranked higher than pages without. The dynamics of link building, however, have changed drastically.

Quality is more important nowadays, whereas quantity was a bigger factor before. There is heavier weight given to links from an authoritative site to yours. Piggybacking, in other words, is recognized by search bots for what it is. Search engines are also going for quality in regards to a healthy mix of link types. A natural link profile is a very good thing. Savvy SEO companies are diligent about removing low-quality and/or spammy links, since they factor into overall website quality.

Two Consistent Components

Two elements of search engine optimization have remained very consistent. One is the technical side of SEO. For instance, websites must be able to load quickly. Before, this involved only desktop computers. Now, of course, mobile friendliness is also a huge factor in technical SEO.

The other consistent element of SEO is that black hat methods have been and continue to be used. This fact should put business owners on the alert. If you hire an SEO company that uses black hat strategies, your website could be blocked from search results for a period of time. In some instances, a website becomes permanently blocked from search results. This forces a company to start over, which is extremely costly because all competitors are usually way ahead in establishing organic SEO. The most effective type of search engine optimization is organic SEO, which can only be achieved over time.

Persistence of Black Hat Methods

As search engine algorithms have evolved, changes have virtually all been about improving user experiences. To achieve improvement, spamming methods have had to be flushed out. Formerly, an SEO company could use disreputable techniques to place their clients’ websites in top ranking positions and get away with it for quite a while. This made it possible for top dollars to be earned by those companies and perhaps the clients, as well. In the end, the owner of the website was and is the one who pays dearly for black hat strategies.

Spammers continue to be very hard at work using search engines for various types of ill-gotten gain. The biggest difference between then and now is that they are caught much more quickly.

Perhaps the most abused form of black hat SEO is keyword stuffing. This involves using keywords excessively in order to send a strong signal to search engines. The biggest problem with keyword stuffing is that it is a form of communication that registers with search bots but it doesn’t provide quality material for consumers who visit the page. Stuffing is a form of spam.

Other practices that are outlawed or just plain ill-advised but haven’t disappeared include hiding links, creating tricky link networks, abusing canonical tags, and using multiple websites when only one is needed.

Contact me at Tony M Ma Media for reliable SEO. We will move you up in the SERPs with current best SEO practices and only white hat methods.

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