Digital / 16th Jan, 2015

Beware of the Black-Hatter

So you hire an online marketer, within a week your website traffic has tripled! You pat yourself of the back and celebrate with your staff. Then, one night when the moon is full, you suddenly realise you’ve been banned by most of the major search engines.

Your website won’t appear in a simple Google search, and your blog has been banished to the deepest darkest depths of the internet. You wonder how things could have gone so catastrophically wrong, when yesterday it looked so good.

This is the work of a Black Hat Marketer. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it’s basically someone who violates the ethics (yes, it’s a thing) of Internet marketing.

Black hatters proclaim to triple your web traffic, by working their magic on your website and improving your ranking on search engines, which they do, but by implementing generally frowned upon practices that tend to anger the Internet giants.

Say you are on Google searching for a reviews for a car you’re thinking of buying, but no matter what you type in, you are greeted by swathes of links for cheap hotels in Vietnam, or irrelevant YouTube fitness videos.

Basically the owner of the Vietnamese hotel has hired a Black hatter to promote their business, the hatter will then ‘stack’ as many irrelevant and well-used search terms together to increase the chances that someone will find their website. It’s a bit like adding tags to your photos.

Google’s main aim is to help people find what they are looking for and therefore doesn’t like it when people try to trick them. It even sends little mini algorithms (lovingly dubbed ‘Spiders’) through the web to make sure that the content of your page actually matches the links provided.

If it finds that your website proclaims to sell televisions yet is has hundreds of tags linking you to protein powders, cat photos and possibly Vietnamese hotels, it will identify you as someone trying to dupe the internet into giving you more traffic. You will then, rather ceremonially be banished from the search engine entirely or even receive a hefty fine. (Yup, Google can call the fuzz on you).

The easiest way to check your new marketing ‘guru’ is legit, is to search for the websites they claim to have promoted and check that: a) They are still visible on the major search engines and b) They actually seem to have some sort of social presence on Facebook or Twitter. If you have indeed fallen victim to the Wiley-ways of a Black-Hatter, then don’t panic! There’s still hope, but you have to act sooner rather than later if you want to convince Google that you’re acting properly.

Use the Disavow tool by Google, it will disassociate you from any spammy links. You should also try creating content and using relevant links to increase your ranking online.

Need advice about any of the tips featured in this blog or perhaps you’d like to discuss how you could improve your website’s performance with us? Email us at Hi@makeagency.co.uk or call us on 0203 567 0860.