What are black hat tactics?
Black-hat tactics are ways of achieving high rankings in the search engines with underground techniques; they cheat the search engines into believing that their website is more important than it actually is.
Examples of these include:
- Off-topic link exchanges
- Exact match domain names and few poor quality links
- Link farms (where operators create/buy old domains and convert them into bad quality one-page sites for link building)
Do they work?
Black hat tactics do not work out well in the long run. As much as they may help the website in the short-term, it is likely that they will get caught out by Google eventually. A legitimate website that has been built through hard work, real links, good content and effective marketing strategies will always be valued better by the search engines. It is better to be fair and avoid the ‘cheating’ techniques rather than worrying that your website may be penalised or banned.
Google’s attitude to spam
Recently it seems that Google’s Web Spam team has paid less attention to combating black hat tactics than in any previous years; the bad quality directories and the off-topic link exchanges have made a comeback since their shutdowns in 2007-8.
So why have Google’s methods of combating web spam got worse rather than better?
1. The Web Spam team may be less capable now than they once were: the internet is getting bigger and bigger, more and more complex, and demand in search is getting even higher. Therefore, the constant increase in web users may be proving too much for Google to handle.
2. Often Google will let spam pass while they develop a new algorithm to defeat the new layer of spam (such as link manipulation.) However this seems unlikely: this is perhaps the longest time that Google has gone without releasing an update for this. They did release the May-Day algorithm, but this had only small impact on website’s search performance – it did not target link manipulation.
3. Link manipulation and web spam have got more and more common: there are a large number of good quality websites that also use black-hat tactics. Consequently, Google cannot penalize a technique or sites using it without reducing the quality of their index.