There are plenty of specific tips and trends for 2016 that can benefit any small business’s search engine optimization (SEO) approach, and while it’s important to discuss possible trends, it’s just as important to re-emphasize why one particular SEO practice should be avoided at all costs.

We’re talking about something called “black hat SEO.” You may have heard this phrase before because it’s been around for a while. Professional and trustworthy search engine optimization services know how to spot black hat SEO and they know how to avoid it, but small businesses often use black hat SEO services without realizing just how serious the consequences can be.

Black hat SEO doesn’t really have a specific definition because it changes constantly as black hat tactics develop. It can really mean any number of bad SEO practices, and it’s generally regarded as a way of “cutting corners” with search engine optimization strategies.

Let’s take a quick look at what some of the most common black hat tactics are, so that you can be sure you avoid them:

    • Keyword stuffing: This practice is becoming less popular, but it still exists. The worst case scenario of keyword stuffing is if you just repeat the same phrase over and over again in a page of content.


    • Hidden text: This is when you set your webpage background color to white, and then place white text on the page with the keywords you want to rank on. Even though your site visitors won’t be able to see the text, Google’s spiders will.


    • Posting automatic comment spam on blog posts: This seems like a simple way to increase your number of inbound links quickly and harmlessly. However, it’s also one of the most obvious black hat techniques out there. Even though there are 27 million pieces of content posted online everyday, this technique will be identified very quickly.


    • Cybersquatting: This is when someone purchases a domain that is very similar to a well-known domain in order to increase site visitors. It’s not helpful because visitors will realize their mistake quickly and they’ll leave the page, and Google considers page view time to be an important ranking factor.


  • Link farming: This is where you’d place content (with a link back to your website) on a low-quality website that has a low domain authority. A few high DA page links are worth a lot more than hundreds of low-quality links.

So why are black hat SEO services so risky? Because if your website is caught by Google’s web crawlers, your entire site could be temporarily removed from the search engine. This can be incredibly bad for business, considering that 93% of all online activities (including online shopping) begin with a search engine, and Google owns about 65-70% of search engine market share.

There are so many benefits of SEO and benefits of social media marketing for small businesses, but it’s never been more important to make sure that you’re using the most professional and trustworthy SEO services available.