Black Hat SEO: What is Over Optimisation?

Over optimisation is the process of manipulating content and links with the intention of ranking a site more highly on Google in such a way that it affects user experience. When done with white hat SEO techniques, websites can get the boosts they need, leading to higher conversion rates. When over-done and in conjunction with black hat SEO techniques, optimisation can negatively impact rankings and conversion rates, and in some cases penalties can be imposed by Google as new algorithm updates are rolled out.

The results of being hit by a penalty can be disastrous for websites as their page rankings can drop drastically or even completely out of Google. This can be particularly consequential for ecommerce sites as website visitors, and ultimately sales, start to drop. If you use SEO services and notice a change in your rankings or online sales, there is chance you have been hit with a penalty for over optimisation by a Penguin or Panda update from Google.

What is a Penguin and a Panda Update?

Penguins and Pandas aren’t just black and white animals – not in the SEO world anyway! To an SEO agency, Penguin and Panda are Google algorithm updates, designed to identify good quality websites and quash spammy irrelevant sites.

Black and White Toy Panda and Penguin

Google’s ultimate goal is to be the best search engine around and the way to do this is to provide searchers with what they are looking for. In the last few years, Google has rolled out two notorious updates to help websites with great and relevant content be found first: Penguin and Panda. The aim of these updates is to match the best content to the query so that searchers are satisfied with their results.

The Panda update was released in 2011 to filter out the low-quality websites from the top of Google. This is a positive update for sites that have relevant and useful content for their visitors, but sites that spread their content too thinly or try to rank for irrelevant keywords face ranking problems.

Released a year later in 2012, the Penguin update tackles over-optimisation and Black Hat SEO techniques. For years, websites could rank high on Google with ease by building masses of links and stuffing keywords into content, which is what we now call Black Hat SEO. By using these abusive SEO techniques, websites could rank high but wouldn’t necessarily provide relevant and useful content to the search query.

Black Hat SEO Versus White Hat SEO

When we think of penguins and pandas, we think of the colours black and white. Just like the monochrome creatures, these updates deal in black and white, specifically black hat SEO and white hat SEO. The Penguin and Panda update scrutinise the use of these techniques, penalizing those manipulating websites with over optimisation.

Women Wearing Black and White Hats Representing Black Hat SEO Techniques and White hat SEO Techniques

Black hat SEO is when optimisation is taken too far, with archaic techniques used to trick Google’s search bots into thinking a site is relevant and should rank highly. Unfortunately, even five years after these updates, these deceitful tactics are not completely obsolete yet, as some agencies try to get quick-wins for their clients with over optimisation. While it may be possible to slip through the update net for a while and get websites to rank quickly, these tactics are potentially lethal and will backfire in the long run.

At Bigfoot Digital, we always say companies should be wary of any SEO agency that can guarantee rankings in a set amount of time. We explain to clients that SEO takes time to be done right and our aim is optimise websites for the user, rather than search bots. This way, not only will your organic website traffic increase, but so will your conversions and goal completions. In the industry, we call this White hat SEO, which is a more natural and ethical way to rank websites on Google.

Curious about Over Optimisation? Use Our Free SEO Audit Tool to Check Your Site

As an SEO agency we have encountered a number of clients who have been penalized by Google for over optimised content and we have worked hard to get their rankings back on track with our tailored SEO Services. We deal in white hat SEO only and can de-optimise your website’s existing black hat SEO to get it back on track.

To check if your website is adequately or too optimised, use our free SEO audit tool. If you find that your website needs a helping hand, contact us today to discuss our SEO strategies.