For many affiliates, SEO is a hard practice to master. With frequent algorithm tweaks and updates, it tends to get a bit of chaotic if you don’t closely pay attention to what’s going on in the industry.
Google is on a mission to constantly improve user experience. Apart from directing users to more informative results, one of the company’s main goals is to make it possible for people to access desired information a lot smoother and faster. This is something that Google has increasingly been doing with its search algorithm. Last year, the people behind the world’s most popular search engine started to boost rankings of ‘mobile friendly’ websites. This year, who knows. Voice search is steadily becoming a bigger deal, so maybe the company will focus more on optimizing search for voice. We still don’t have any real confirmation.
With such a strong focus on change, it’s important to stay on your toes and always listen to what Google is cooking up.
SEO has become a mainstream marketing practice. Everyone who’s interested in increasing their brand’s visibility online is using at least a couple of search engine optimization techniques to help them reach their goal.
Unfortunately for everyone, SEO is a painfully slow process. It’s a marathon, not a race. It takes months and months of hard work before fruits of your labor start to appear. That is, of course, if you do things by the book.
Not everyone has the will or stamina to finish a marathon. Most affiliates don’t really have the time, nor patience to wait that long before their efforts start to move them up the ladder. Especially those who operate in highly competitive industries such as iGaming. They get desperate and impatient, so they look for shortcuts to help them climb up the SERP for relevant keywords.
This is how most marketers are introduced to the world of black-hat SEO.
Even though black-hat tricks can be tempting, especially since you may initially see positive results, the consequences of going in such direction always outweigh the short-term benefits they create for your business.
In the following segments of this post, we’re going to expand on the topic of black hat SEO and explain why relying on “shady” search engine optimization strategies could harm your business in many ways:
What is Black Hat SEO Exactly?
Before we dig deeper into details, let us first cover the basics:
For those who are not familiar with this term, black-hat refers to specific SEO strategies that go against Google’s guidelines and recommended practices. All black-hat SEO tricks have one thing in common: they don’t really care about the user. In fact, they often completely disregard them. Black-hat SEO practices seek to game the system and reach better rankings fast. They don’t contribute to solving users’ problems, and they certainly don’t offer them the best possible information for their queries.
This goes against everything that search engines are trying to do, which is why they don’t really tolerate this sort of behavior.
There are many different SEO practices that can be considered black-hat. Some of them fall into this category because they are way outdated, others because of their malicious intent. Here are a couple of more popular ones:
blog comment spam
rich snippet data gamification
keyword stacking and duplicated content
Every single one of these listed practices will help you generate great results at least twice as fast compared to white-hat SEO tactics. However, before you decide to invest in such shady practices, it’s of great importance to think about the following: will it pay off in the end?
1. The Downside is Huge
If you’re going to engage in black-hat SEO, you need to be familiar with the risks. Investing in one of these above-mentioned practices means that you’re consciously doing something that search engines don’t recommend, so there’s a high chance that you’ll get a nasty penalty for that. Getting a penalty from Google, Bing, and other search engines will cause your website to drop down in search results. And if you choose to continue to rely on notorious tactics, the engines might even completely remove you from the listings or push you so far down the SERP no one will ever reach you.
This means that your website will stop receiving traffic from the search engines, which is definitely bad. Regardless of what kind of business you run, you need to get people to visit your website and pages. It will be extremely hard for you to do that if you get banned from the biggest traffic aggregators on the web.
Google, for instance, is constantly getting better at spotting black-hat SEO techniques. Nowadays, getting caught for using shady tricks to manipulate rankings is basically unavoidable. If you’re going to go down this road, you need to be willing to accept that there’s a 99 percent chance you’ll get crushed by the engines. It’s just a matter of time. The only thing that remains is for you to weight the pros and cons and figure out if risking a penalty is worth for such short bumps in rankings and traffic.
2. Short-Term Glory
One of the biggest arguments when it comes to investing in black-hat SEO is the lifespan of its results. Even though certain black hat tactics will help you to climb faster up Google’s SERP for relevant keywords, they won’t really cement you on those positions. In fact, these quick wins often disappear before you can say: “search engine optimization”.
Most black-hat SEO tactics are very old, and Google knows about them, so they’re now ineffective. They don’t work anymore in the long term.
There are cases where SEO specialists discover new black-hat tactics and they seem to work for them. But have this in mind: once the word gets around, once other black-hat SEO professionals see it brings results, they will start doing it. When the practice grows in popularity, even more SEOs will hear about it and some may report it to Google’s Spam Report. As reports start to pile up, Google will become aware of it, which means that they will first start taking action and manually penalize the tactic, until they finally decide to work on an algorithm update in order to prevent it from working.
This is the whole basis of many of the biggest Google algorithm updates. The idea is always to prevent many identified black-hat SEO tactics that were rampant in the past.
Many black-hat practitioners are well aware of this and they continue to invest in shady SEO tactics anyway.
Well, because loads of them do the “churn and burn” type of SEO, where they look for sudden waves of traffic and profit, and then they let everything crash and burn because they got what they wanted.
Most affiliates do this. They create specific sites for specific purposes, and then just let Google destroy their rankings because they have already moved to a new project and domain.
Even though this seems like a legitimate tactic, it’s not really great for those who want a more sustainable solution. Doing this from the ground up every time you want to sell something is exhausting, especially for affiliate marketers. If you have already found your most lucrative niche and you want to continue to operate in it, it would be a lot wiser to do things by the book and take some time to actually develop your brand and get desired audiences to trust you.
Once you build up a steady following and show people that you’re the real deal and not just someone who’s desperate to make a quick buck, kickstarting every new effort will be a lot easier for you.
3. Blackish is Still Black
As you know, search engines treat SEO tactics differently. Some of them are approved by the webmaster guidelines, others are strongly prohibited. But what about those there neither here nor there? What about practices that feel shady, but aren’t explicitly on Google’s naughty list?
We in the business call these type of practices grey-hat. They usually consist of unethical tactics that could be banned in the future, but Google still hasn’t officially marked them as spam.
A lot affiliates feel that these type of practices are exactly what they need, so they keep investing in them while they’re still in the clear.
However, knowing that most grey-hat practices have become black over time, our advice is to stay away from them. Once they finally get flagged as spam, you’ll need to redo everything that you did in the past if you don’t want the past to catch up with you and bite you somewhere unpleasant.
4. A Little Change in Attitude Can Turn the Game In Your Favor
A lot of affiliates, regardless of the niche or market they operate in, have a problem with bad rap. That is because people have started to identify affiliate marketing with shady internet marketing practices. There so many sites in the affiliate marketing business that use black-hat SEO tactics. Google doesn’t really have much choice but to include those domains in its rankings.
Of course, this only happens in less aggressive industries, but it still happens.
Affiliates who see this in practice tend to believe that this is the right direction to take, especially when they spot their top competitors who are doing pretty well with spammy tactics.
Instead of blindly following what their rivals are doing, affiliates who notice that their top competitors are holding a good position with shady tricks should really do the complete opposite. Once Google sees that you’re the real deal, that you’re playing by the rules and offering genuine value to the users – it won’t take the engine very long time to recalculate the rankings and position you higher than your rivals.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article in its entirety. Even though black-hat tactics seem attractive at first and there exist literally dozens of different ways that you can use to trick the system, there is still no better or safer path for you than white-hat if your goals include climbing up the SERP for desired keywords. Even though doing things by the book tends to feel slow and exhausting at times, the results you make with white-hat practices are here to stay, which is definitely not something that you can do with questionable techniques. In the long run, by sticking with the white-hat SEO, you can sleep tight knowing you’ll never see an unpleasant dramatic drop in your rankings due to a nasty penalty.