Seeing your dental practice showing up on the first page of Google is vital for business growth, and SEO optimization is necessary to achieve search engine result rankings. But, there’s a right and a wrong way to achieve those rankings.
There’s a dark side to SEO referred to as black hat SEO and it’s frowned upon in the world of Google. Why? Because black hat SEO practices seek to game Google by using shady tactics rather than work with search engines to naturally solve problems for the user.
The sustained use of black hat SEO can damage your online presence, decreasing your authority and trustworthiness, and even get you fined by Google. Let’s dive deep into what black hat SEO is, what the dangers are and what SEO best practices look like.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO is an unethical practice that’s used by some internet marketers to boost website results and gain better rankings on the SERPs (search engine results page). This practice allows marketers to gain a quick boost rather than investing the time and resources it takes to create a long-term, sustainable strategy.
These practices go against search engine guidelines by ignoring user intent and bypassing SEO best practices. Google rewards websites that comply with best practice and cater to users, and they will penalize websites that use unscrupulous practices by decreasing their rankings.
Black Hat SEO Vs. White Hat SEO
To put it simply:
Black Hat SEO: Exploits search engines to boost rankings in the short-term. Results (if any) will happen quickly but will just as quickly disappear once search engines catch on.
White Hat SEO: Closely follows search engine guidelines to increase rankings in a steady, manageable way that creates long-term, lasting results that are sustainable for the future.
So, what are some black hat SEO practices that you need to be aware of and stay away from for your dental practice marketing? We’ll run down 8 of the top black hat SEO practices.
1. Low-Quality Content and Duplicate Content
Search engines, like Google, favor websites that feature high-quality content, and lots of it. High-quality content isn’t easy or cheap to create, so in an attempt to beat the system, marketers using black hat tactics will publish low-quality content. Many marketers will produce cheap, barely understandable content just to fill the page instead of producing valuable content that is relevant and answers search intent.
Duplicate content is publishing the same content on multiple pages to try to attract search engines, What is actually does is confuse search engines and can cause a decrease in rankings.
2. Keyword Stuffing
Along the same lines as producing low-quality content, is producing content that’s keyword stuffed. Keyword stuffing is the act of excessively using keywords within your content in an attempt to get search engines to rank for those targeted keywords. This often includes sticking keywords in places that don’t make sense and aren’t relevant or readable to the reader. Luckily, Google and other search engines have gotten much smarter over the years and now penalize content that’s clearly keyword stuffed.
The black hat practice of cloaking is a technique that’s used to trick search engines into ranking content for a search term that isn’t actually related to the context of the page. This tactic shows one piece of content to the users but shows a different one to search engines. It’s tricky, deceiving, and most certainly frowned upon by search engines.
4. Paying for Backlinks
If you know anything about SEO, you know that acquiring high-quality links to your site will boost your rankings. For SEO best practices, backlinks should be obtained through natural and organic methods, however, there are black hat techniques that can be used to gain them as well. Shady marketers will pay other websites for a backlink to their site. This is not only against best practices, but it can also be very risky for your website.
5. Using PBNs
PBNs, or private blog networks, are a common backlinking strategy amongst black hat marketers. They create or buy websites for the sole purpose of linking to sites that they want to improve SEO on. PBNs are usually nonsense sites that are filled with low-quality content and provide no useful or relevant information at all.
6. Inauthentic Blog Commenting
This is another backlinking strategy that goes against SEO best practices. Commenting on blogs for the sake of gaining a backlink, and not contributing genuine insight or feedback is considered spammy and a no-no in the white hat SEO world.
7. Negative SEO
Negative SEO is a tactic that some marketers use to decrease their competitor’s ranking. They do this by making their competitor’s site look as though it’s engaging in black hat SEO tactics that deserve to be penalized. This practice is risky and completely unethical.
Lastly, microsites are an individual web page or small cluster of pages that act as a separate entity for your brand. These sites live on a completely separate domain than your main website, therefore they don’t share any of the “domain credit.” Some marketers who are trying to game the system will use microsites as a way to try to rank for long-tail, specific keywords under a completely different domain name instead of putting in the time and effort to rank on your company’s main site. These separate domains are referred to as “exact match domains.”
What Are The Dangers?
Black hat SEO tactics can hurt your website and damage your brand’s integrity in many ways. For starters, it can lead to lower search engine rankings or even cause your site to completely disappear from search engines results.
If your site is using black hat SEO techniques, you’re explicitly violating search engine terms of service and because of this, the search engine may penalize you for engaging in such tactics. If your ultimate goal is to achieve and maintain higher rankings, this certainly isn’t the way to do it—you can rest assured that sneaky tactics will catch up to you.
Black hat techniques create only short term results, at best. Black hat strategies exploit loopholes in search engines, therefore, the results you earn by utilizing these techniques will likely disappear as soon as the loophole is closed—which it will inevitably close sooner or later as search engines are getting smarter and more intuitive every day.
If you want your dental brand to be trusted, respected, and have authority in the online world, staying within search engine best practices is in your best interest.
The last thing you want to do is create a poor customer experience that’s misleading and doesn’t address search intent. You’ll not only lose customers through poor rankings; you’ll lose out on potential business because your site and brand will look low-quality and untrustworthy.
Why Do Some Internet Marketers Use Black Hat SEO Techniques?
Because they want to get fast results and “quick wins” for their clients. While those quick wins may produce favorable results in the short term, it’s only a matter of time before those results wane and your site gets hit with penalties that could result in you losing your entire online presence.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of “SEO specialists” out there that give the industry a bad name because they use these techniques to give their clients a quick boost, cut them loose, and when it all comes crumbling down, they don’t take any accountability.
On the other hand, white hat SEO, although it may take some additional time and patience, uses techniques that ethical, sustainable, and will provide your site with long-lasting results that you can count on without the fear of getting penalized.
Finding a Dental Marketing Company That Avoids Dangerous and Unethical Practices
When it comes to dental practice marketing, it’s in your best interest to pursue the help of a dental SEO company that uses ethical, white hat SEO tactics like Core Dental Solutions. There are some digital marketing companies that don’t have your dental practice’s best interest in mind, so they use unethical SEO tactics that can end up seriously damaging your website and brand.
Ready to step up your search engine visibility? First things first, we’ll need to check and see if your site is SEO-ready. Click here to schedule a free consultation.
At Core Dental Solutions, we work in compliance with search engines to create a long-term, sustainable SEO strategy that not only helps get your dental practice website to the top of the SERPs but keeps it there. Achieving higher search engine rankings and attracting more customers to your practice is achievable with the professional expertise of Core Dental Solutions.