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Without a doubt, readers might have gotten to notice that some websites happen to rank really high in the first page of Google results. Such sites seem at first sight to contain the information users are looking for in that specific moment, however, once open, these websites are practically empty: and they contain nothing but unreadable jargon. Why does something like this happen? Well, those sites might have mastered, and achieved wonders using, what is commonly referred to as Black Hat SEO.

At ReputationDefender we have previously posted articles regarding the vast universe of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is a set of techniques used to help websites achieve a higher position in the first page of a given search engine results (i.e Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.), in an organic way, without incurring in additional payments systems like Google AdWords. SEO is composed of different positioning techniques whereby a given website can outrank its competitors in the results page, nevertheless, amongst these techniques, Black Hat SEO is to be found as well. Black Hat SEO is merely a summary of illegal techniques, which are normally penalized by search engines should they notice them. Black Hat SEO strives to fool search engines — or their algorithms, in practice, since search engines come down to computer algorithms — . By using such practices, businesses that do not frown upon Black Hat SEO techniques strive to rank much better than their competitors.

Nonetheless, these practices are somewhat recognizable. Black Hat SEO uses techniques such as buying external high-PageRank links, abusing keywords usage within a given website, copying content from other pages, using spam and even cloaking (showing search engines a over-optimized whereas users get to see a normal one), amongst others. To find out whether a specific site is thriving through the use of Black Hat SEO, there are certain ways of determining it. First, it would be advisable to assess other external links (from other sites) that could be pointing towards the site in question. To do so, people can seize the perks of a tool known as BacklinkWatch. This tool help users determine whether these links are belong to other blogs that ultimately have no relationship whatsoever with the website in question, or find out if there are an unnatural number of links in the comment section (performing spam, obviously).

By visiting sites suspected of performing Black Hat SEO techniques, people can realize whether such sites are using the mentioned penalized activities. It is fairly easy to determine whether they are repeating a specific keyword without any logic behind it, or if they are thriving by copying other people’s content. For such purposes, there is a tool called CopyScape that enable users to find whether a specific site is using such Black Hat SEO techniques. Nevertheless, the list is much longer: in the vast universe of SEO, there are certainly established rules that are to be followed. Such policies have been established in hopes of providing a much reliable environment while also providing a much more fulfilling user experience. Managing to get those first positions in the first page of Google results demands that people behind those sites keep up with the latest techniques within the always-changing universe of SEO by adjusting — constantly — their approach to adapt new algorithms. This is what, legally, people should definitely do, and it is the way to maintain a healthy competition. Nevertheless, on the other side, there are those who try to outsmart the different search engines by bringing organic traffic to their sites without complying with the principles previously established, and actually incurring in illegal practices as the ones already (but not limited to) mentioned.

Paid links, for instance, is one of these illegal practices whose perks are entirely undeniable for the buyer. Once the transaction has been carried out, there is no need to worry about whether the content is either good or bad; additionally, the anchor text — one of Google’s top ranking aspect — is chosen in accordance with the client’s preferences. These two activities, when put together, are powerful enough to successfully manipulate to some extent the way a specific website is ranking in the page of Google results, which is why is vastly considered as an obvious Black Hat technique.

Aside from copying content, as mentioned above, another Black Hat technique is known as article spinning. This is highly similar to the copied content issue and has been getting more and more popular amongst Black Hat specialists. Article spinning is classified as next level plagiarism and requires the use of special software capable of copying the source and rephrasing it for later use, labeling it as something new and unique. Such modification prevents, to some extent, search engines from detecting it, as this change effectively reduces the risk of being discovered by any plagiarism software or tool. Be that as it may, the decisions as to whether use or not such techniques ultimately rests with each individual, however, remember: it is highly dangerous and the downside might end up being worse than the apparent benefits.

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