100, 200, 301, 302, 404... Those are all numbers relating to websites in one form or another. Every time this Daily Golden Nugget series reached one of those numbers I wrote a special edition specifically about that number.
This is Daily Golden Nugget #666 and in honor of that special number I decided to write about one of the more "Devilish Black Hat SEO" techniques continuing to plague the internet.
What I'm about to describe is something that can happen to anyone who has low security on their website. A typical form of "low security" happens simply when your FTP password is not strong enough. If the password of your website is the word "diamond" or "diamond1" you need to go change that now because that's an obvious password for people in the jewelry industry.
Other "low security" situations occur when the software running on your website is out of date and needs to be patched by your website programmer or your website hosting company. Security patches should be part of your monthly website service contract and are especially important if you are running a WordPress website or any website written in the PHP programming language.
Those with low security are at risk of continual attacks from two types of people: those who want to destroy your website; and those that want to secretly use your website for nefarious reasons.
The devilish Black Hat SEO technique I want to describe falls into the nefarious category. When your security is breached they will modify your website in such a way in hopes that you will never notice it. Their hope is that they can use your website to boost the ranking of another website.
These hidden website pages were not viruses or anything directly harmful, but rather they were text files with dozens of hyperlinks to other websites. They were also loaded with the same keywords repeated over and over again. The goal of these hidden website pages was to feed Google many links and keywords in hopes to boost the ranking of the pages they were linking to.
Sometimes these hidden pages are formatted to have the exact same website design as the rest of the website. The header and footer may look the same, the background colors are the same, but the content on the page is has words and links completely unrelated to the actual website.
In addition to the hidden web pages, the home pages of these hacked websites usually have modified hidden scripts in programming code. You can usually find the hidden code in the <head> area of the HTML code. The goal here is to quietly lead the search engines to the hidden pages without normal users knowing about them.
This type of Black Hat SEO is not always used simply to help the ranking of other websites; in fact this is a very popular method of spreading malicious software and viruses around the internet. This is where your reputation can be harmed. Your website visitors trust you, and they trust the information they find on your website. Users can easily be tricked into clicking a link on a page that looks like the rest of your site because the design was copied. Before they realize it, they are downloading malicious software onto their computer.
There's also a way that Black Hat SEO companies can make money from these pages. Again, if the page looks like the rest of your website they could trick users into clicking links to affiliate websites, like Amazon.com. The Black Hat company will make a commission if a purchase is made after clicking the affiliate link.
Google has taken a lot of steps to detect and prevent this type of Black Hat Spam SEO from appearing in the search results. When Google discovers a hacked site they will display a warning page when you try to visit that website.
As I said above, the best way to protect yourself from falling prey to this type of Black Hat SEO is to increase the difficulty of your password. Pick a combination of letters, symbols, and numbers of at least 10 characters long.