You’re spending your days working 9 to 5, then suddenly it hits you – you can have your own business. You start brainstorming, researching the data and statistics, find the info that even though 61% of consumers still purchase on a physical location, 31% is turning to online shopping. And 31% may not be such a small number. With the daily progress of the internet, the e-commerce industry is on the rise. Rough estimates are that there are 24 million e-commerce websites, and you start thinking about joining the herd.
It seems that all you have to do is pick a niche, do some market research, create your products and website, and voila, you can start earning. But real life might bring on some challenges. The number one thing you learn or need to learn is SEO. The average time for a website to rank for keywords is six to 12 months. You might have to migrate or change the design, and it affects your rankings. And what about your competition, are they really that transparent in the ways they do business?
Beginnings are tough
Asking these questions is normal, after all, you’re just starting. And since your business is online, you might be prone to testing the waters of black hat SEO. Black hat SEO is defined as the practice that goes against search engine policies and guidelines, used to artificially boost the website’s rank. But there are so many websites around, who will know if you tried some other techniques to boost your traffic and sales, right? Think twice. Black hat SEO can kill your business. Here’s how.
Spam comments waste your time
You might think that spending hours on end roaming around the web and leaving comments that have no sense will bring better SEO results. You’ll be disappointed to know that these links are 100% nofollow, and if you spend any time learning about SEO, you’ll get the picture. That’s not how you’ll speed up the ranking of your platform, you’ll only remain invisible.
Keyword stuffing kills user experience
If the content is your focus, and you’ll want to rank it fast, you might turn to keyword stuffing. But think of it like this – your user lands on one of your blog posts where you promote your product, but all they see is the product in mention with some gibberish. Upon realizing that there’s no valid info, they’ll head to the X button. You’ll lose a customer, and Google won’t like you, simply because search engines are tailored to dodge these pages.
Invisible text makes you disappear
If you didn’t know about this technique, it’s placing a text on the page and making it invisible. For example white text with keywords on the white background. You’ll enjoy your invisible text for a certain amount of time, but eventually, your website will be penalized, your ranks will drop and maybe you’ll even be banned from SERP. You’ll agree that this can only make one thing invisible – your e-commerce business.
Other black hat SEO risks
- Abusing structured data gets you reported
- Link farms, at best, get you ignored
- Overall lower rankings
- Short-term results
- Misleading the consumers
Buying bot traffic paints the wrong picture
This is not a black hat SEO technique per se, but by purchasing bot traffic you’re lying to yourself. Yes, it’s great to see Google Analytics graph climbs, but what benefits do you have? You won’t get sales and leads. You’ll spend your money, instead of investing it (and there’s a huge difference between spending and investing) and once the cash is gone, so is the traffic.
What can you do?
Depending on your involvement in the business, there are ways to refrain from bad SEO ways. Here’s what you can do to mitigate the negative effects of black hat SEO.
If you practice it
If you’ve been thinking about practicing any of the black hat SEO techniques, or you’re already doing it, stop. SEO is a long-term game, and the better you become, the better results you’ll see. If you persist, your store will see the light of Google’s first page, and you’ll get the 71% of clicks to your store. You can always use sites like Pinterest to attract users, in a similar way blogger does for their traffic. By optimizing your social media, you’ll gain traction while you wait for the first-page rank.
If you’re a Victim
If you notice that you’re a victim of black hat SEO, here’s what you can do to prevent it:
- Report your competitors only if you’re certain they’re practicing it
- Conduct proper SEO audits via legit platforms
- Write, or hire someone to write, a high-quality, SEO optimized content
- Use WordPress plugins like Askimet anti-spam to remove spammy comments
- Use RankMath or Yoast to help you with proper SEO optimization
- Become enough tech-savvy to recognize if your webmaster is doing something wrong
- Track changes on your website with webmaster tools
- Ask if you don’t know what to do
- Be patient
Even though it might be hard to wait for the “white hat” SEO to do its thing, it’s better than being penalized by Google. Black hat SEO tactics like spamming with comments, keyword stuffing, or invisible text, can literally only hurt your business. Search engines are designed to recognize and remove poor websites, all in favor of UX. And if Google can focus on the best user experience, so should you.