You have a good understanding of what black hat SEO is, so lets look at how this emerging practice is affecting search engine rankings.
Black hat social media is fast becoming a common practice and it has led to a whole new era of web spam. This has an impact on social media platforms and on the companies that rely on these sites for marketing purposes.
Although a number of consumers are becoming aware of this practice, there is a lot of information on how black hat social media has an influence on SEO or search engine optimization that many people still don’t know. So let’s cover this subject.
What Black Hat Social Media Is
Black hat is a phrase that was first used in reference to a specific type of hacker or someone who maliciously violated computer security for personal gain. In the world of search marketing, black hat SEO is used to refer to tactics that improve search engine rankings that lie outside of the terms of service that search engines maintain. Conversely, ethical optimization techniques are commonly referred to as white hat SEO and these fall within the guidelines that have been set forth by search engines.
It is not possible to find a definition for black hat social media so I will define it for you. Black hat social media is efforts to use social media platforms for personal gain that do not adhere to the guidelines of the site.
Black Hat Social Media Example
So you might be wondering what a few examples of black hat social media are. I’ll list a couple for you.
- Purchasing YouTube subscribers, buying fake likes, getting +1s for money by working with click farms
- Posting hyperlinks that are security threats
- Programs that follow and unfollow social accounts automatically
- Creating profiles on social media that are fake in order to share, like, comment or collect data
- Creating fake positive reviews on your own or unfounded negative reviews on the pages of competitors
- Using the names of your competitors to create social profiles, ranking these for search engines and then positing negative feedback
- These are but a handful of the many ways that black hat social media tactics can be used. In reality, however, there are tons of ways to negatively or positively affect a company that do not fit with the intended purposes of the social networking site.
How These Efforts Can Impact Google Search
Now we are at the center of the issue. Is it possible to affect SEO with black hat social media? Lets assess several possible scenarios and then the community can decide for itself.
* Purchasing Shares, Likes and Fake Followers. As per Search Engine Land, a number of social signals have become factors in ranking while search engines decide how to leverage social behavior and interaction. A lot of SEO providers agree that SEO is impacted by social signals, even if these do not directly impact social ranking.
For instance, if a person purchases +1s, tweets, shares or likes to fake interaction that has not actually occurred with the site user’s content, this could cause the level of authority for the content to be falsely inflated, specially if this profile is crawled by Google and listed with the public.
* Optimizing Accounts That Are Fake. When fake accounts are created by people, this gives them the opportunity to assume aliases. For instance, if they optimize fake accounts under then names of their competitors, this account will rank for the competition. This will then be seen by web users when Google searches are performed.
When the real web properties of the competitors are outranked by fake accounts, this can cause them financial harm by limiting their click share. Of if the listings that are displayed in search results are deterrents for users, this can have a negative impact on the overall reputation and brand images of these businesses.
* Reviews That Are Fake. This is unfortunately, a very common occurrence as far as black hat social media strategies go and I have seen them a lot during my time spent working in online reputation management. People can leave fake, negative business reviews via social media sites and these can actually stick! This can be very harmful to a business if the review happens to rank and prospective customers come across this feedback when using search engines.
Additionally, reviews that have the correct data markup structure can show up in search results as a rich snippet and people who see a low star count for companies could choose to go elsewhere to perform their business. This has generated a lot of talk about whether negative reviews are capable of affecting social signals and SEO and how they might be able to do this, but there currently aren’t any clear answers just yet.
* Low-Quality Social Sites. Everyone knows that in the modern world of SEO, if you obtain links from the wrong websites, these can actually become big issues. This makes people ask, « Is a share from the wrong social media platforms negative SEO? »
Link evaluation tools such as those from Majestic SEO show that links are often assessed according to the domain or page authority, their topical relevance and so forth. So, if you have a lot of shares coming from social media profiles that are spammy and off topic, will this have negative SEO repercussions?
Is Black Hat Social Media Going To Be A Problem For SEO In Years To Come?
It isn’t really possible to know the answer to this with any certainty, but given the increase in social media marketing, there are plenty of reasons to believe that this form of social media abuse will continue. A lot of people think that social media interactions, likes and shares are going to become increasingly important to SEO as time goes by and thus, more people are going to try and beat the system with these unethical behaviors.