What is Black Hat SEO and How Can it Affect Your Practice?

If you’ve had any involvement in creating a website, you know just how important SEO is for any business, including your orthodontic practice. Websites featuring quality content relevant to their audience and with well-organized pages linking to each other will have good search engine optimization, or SEO. However, one form of SEO some marketing companies employ is known as black hat SEO. As the ominous name suggests, it’s something you should avoid as much as possible. 

What Is Black Hat SEO?

Put simply, black hat SEO is a set of strategies websites can use which violate the terms of service for search engines. Generally speaking, search engines create their terms of service in a way that focuses on creating a better experience for users. When a website uses black hat SEO techniques, they are attempting to manipulate search engine rankings in their favor rather than using strategies that create an organic, pleasant experience for potential customers.

Common Black Hat SEO Techniques

One of the most common black hat SEO techniques is keyword stuffing. Normally, a good website would include relevant keywords in their content in a way that is enjoyable to read and sounds natural. On the other hand, keyword stuffing shoves a bunch of keywords into copy that sounds robotic and conspicuously repetitive. An example of keyword-stuffed copy would read something like this:

“Our Olympia orthodontic specialists at our orthodontic office in Olympia has expert orthodontists near Tumwater who offer braces, orthodontic treatment, and Invisalign near Olympia, WA.” 

The obvious keywords in this copy would definitely be effective spread across other sections or webpages, but the fact that they are stuffed into one long sentence diminishes the content and the user experience. 

Unoriginal Content

One sneaky tactic some websites have used as a shortcut is simply copying and pasting text to get content on their page with SEO value. While this may cut out the need to hire more content writers, unoriginal content is easier to spot than ever ,thanks to free services like Copyscape. Even if you edit your content to not be an exact match, it is still easy to find and search engines will penalize your site because of it. 

Paid Links

When other websites use your website as a reference by linking to it, search engines will start to treat your website as more authoritative and thus, more valuable to readers. The SEO quality of getting links is so effective that some business owners and marketing agencies will pay other website hosts to link to their websites. The latter is another black hat SEO tactic.

Why You Should Avoid Black Hat SEO

While nobody is going to break through your door and arrest you if you implement black hat SEO strategies, doing so will put your website at risk of being banned from search engines, making it impossible to find unless users type in your exact URL. 

In addition to keyword-stuffing, copied content, and paid links, other black hat SEO strategies like cloaking, deceptive redirects, or link farms can result in serious penalties that will do far more harm than good to your orthodontic website. In general, if your website has any information or text that offers no value or diminishes the user experience for SEO purposes, it likely qualifies as black hat SEO. 

If your agency or website designers have used black hat SEO for your website, it’s time to look for a new orthodontic website designer to help you achieve organic search rankings and to provide an effective user experience.