Brace Yourselves, Summer is Coming: The Risk of Black Hat SEO

Brace Yourselves, Summer is Coming: The Risk of Black Hat SEO

By: Daniel Jeffers - Search Engine Optimization - 2014

The search engine optimization community has long been divided into two groups: white hat and black hat practitioners. Basically, what hat SEO optimizes content by trying to give search engines what they want, while black hat SEO attempts to fool search engines in order to get higher rankings for content that doesn't quite match the actual searches. For my longer take on black hat SEO, read this.

I don't think black hat SEO is particularly immoral, not if the client is clear on the risks. I think it is misguided, and probably an ever-so-slight attack on humanity and knowledge, but it's not that much worse than a misleading headline on a news article. Think of how the Huffington Post tries to get you to read boring articles by asking teasing questions in their headlines.

Where black hat SEO is immoral is when the clients don't really understand the risks. When the SEO practictioners assure clients that nothing bad will happen, they are lying. If an SEO practitioners tells you "we'll do X, but Google will think Y," that SEO is putting you at risk of being penalized.

Everything changes, and black hat SEO techniques, at best, only work because of a flaw in the current algorithm. The flaw will be corrected. Also, Google is constantly developing ways to identify  deliberate black hat techniques, and will heavily penalize websites found to be using them.

Matt Cutts, the Google super spam-fighter, recently previewed coming changes to the various search algorithms. One, in particular, is called Penguin. According to Cutts, a major Penguin update, coming out over the summer, will have a big impact on black hat SEO'd websites.