As a digital marketer, you must have heard of the term Black Hat SEO and the various techniques associated with it. In this article, we will explain what Black Hat SEO is, the tactics and techniques involved in it, and whether it is worth it. We will also provide tips on how to avoid using Black Hat SEO techniques and why you should steer clear of them.
Black Hat SEO is the practice of using unethical techniques that go against search engine guidelines to improve a site’s rankings in search results. Instead of creating helpful content, improving a site with quality information, or providing experiences that solve for the user, shady tactics are employed to get search algorithms to rank a domain’s web pages.
The term “Black Hat” originated in Western movies to distinguish the bad guys from the good guys, who wore White Hat. Black Hat SEO tactics involve strategies like keyword stuffing, link schemes, article spinning, cloaking, and manipulating structured data.
While these tactics can provide short-term gains, they can also result in long-term damage to a website’s reputation and search engine visibility. As search engines like Google continue to refine their algorithms, Black Hat SEO tactics are becoming increasingly risky and ineffective. White Hat SEO is still the preferred choice, whereas Grey Hat SEO maybe borderline risky.
Here’s a table summarizing the main differences between Black Hat SEO, Grey Hat SEO, and White Hat SEO:
|Criteria||Black Hat SEO||Grey Hat SEO||White Hat SEO|
|Objective||Manipulate search rankings to generate quick results||Balance between manipulating search rankings and providing value to users||Improve search rankings by following search engine guidelines and providing value to users|
|Tactics and Techniques||Keyword stuffing, hidden text, cloaking, link schemes, etc.||Buying links, article spinning, doorway pages, etc.||Content creation, keyword research, on-page optimization, link building, etc.|
|Risk of Google Penalty||High||Moderate||Low|
|Sustainability||Short-term||Short-term to mid-term||Long-term|
|Search Engine Guidelines||Violates guidelines||May violate some guidelines||Follows guidelines|
|Examples||PBNs, spammy directories, negative SEO, etc.||Guest posting, social bookmarking, etc.||Quality content, internal linking, outreach, etc.|
|Focus||Search engines||Search engines and users experiences||Search engines and users experiences|
|Ethical Implications||Unethical||Grey area||Ethical|
Black Hat SEO Tactics and Techniques
The following SEO tactics and techniques are considered black hat and should not be exercised at all if you want to stay above board with Google and other search engines:
Don’t use automated tools to create content. This can result in low-quality content that is seen as spammy and harmful to your website’s reputation. 2023 is the year of AI Blogging for everyone. Purely using AI content automation without any human editing might fall into risky Black Hat SEO.
These are pages designed to rank for specific keywords but offer little value to users. They are seen as a violation of search engine guidelines and should be avoided.
Hidden Text or Links
Don’t hide text or links within your website, as this is seen as an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings.
Keyword stuffing involves filling a page’s content with irrelevant and excessive use of targeted keywords in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings. While it used to be a common practice, search engines now penalize websites for this tactic.
content than what they initially clicked on. This tactic is often used to trick search engines into ranking a website higher for certain keywords. It is essential to avoid this tactic as it can lead to a severe penalty from search engines, resulting in a significant drop in website traffic and a decrease in search engine rankings.
Cloaking involves displaying different content to search engines and users. This tactic is used to serve search engine bots with optimized content, while users see irrelevant content. Cloaking is a direct violation of Google’s Guidelines.
Link schemes involve manipulating the quantity or quality of links pointing to a website. This includes buying links, exchanging links, or creating a network of low-quality websites to link to a site. Link schemes are considered a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Guest Posting Networks
Guest posting is a legitimate SEO technique that involves writing and publishing articles on other websites to build backlinks to your website. However, guest posting networks that offer guest post services for a fee are considered a black hat SEO tactic. These networks publish low-quality articles on irrelevant websites, often resulting in a backlink from a site that has no value. It is essential to avoid these networks as they can lead to a penalty from search engines, and the backlinks obtained from these networks can harm your website’s SEO efforts.
Link Manipulation (including buying links)
Link manipulation involves using various black hat techniques to build backlinks to a website. One of the most common tactics is buying links from other websites, which is strictly prohibited by search engines. Buying links is a quick and easy way to obtain backlinks, but it is not an ethical SEO practice. Search engines can quickly detect paid links and penalize the website that bought them. It is essential to avoid buying links or using any other black hat techniques to manipulate links.
Article spinning involves rewriting existing articles to create new, yet similar content, in an attempt to trick search engines into thinking it’s original content. This tactic provides no real value to the reader and is often penalized by search engines.
Link Farms, Link Wheels or Link Networks
A Link Farm, Link Wheel or Link Network is a website that exists solely to provide links to other websites. These sites offer no real value to the user and exist solely to manipulate search engine rankings. Search engines can quickly detect link farms and penalize the websites that use them. It is essential to avoid link farms and focus on building high-quality backlinks from reputable websites
Structured Data Manipulation
Structured data manipulation involves adding schema markup to a page to falsely represent information to search engines. This tactic is often used to manipulate rich snippets or featured snippets.
Automated Queries to Google
Automated queries to Google are a black hat SEO tactic that involves using automated software to submit multiple queries to Google. This tactic is used to manipulate search engine rankings by artificially inflating a website’s traffic. It is essential to avoid this tactic as it can lead to a severe penalty from search engines and result in a significant drop in website traffic and search engine rankings.
Creating pages with duplicate content
Creating pages with duplicate content is a black hat SEO technique that involves copying content from other websites and using it on your website. This tactic is used to create content quickly and easily, but it is not an ethical SEO practice. Search engines can quickly detect duplicate content and penalize the website that uses it.
Falsely reporting web spam
Falsely reporting web spam could be considered black hat SEO. As this unethical to having fair competition, this is highly frowned upon in the SEO communities.
How To Report Black Hat SEO
Reasons to Report Black Hat SEO
There are two main reasons why you may need to report black hat SEO. The first is if your website has been targeted by a malicious hack, virus, or malware. These attacks can cause significant damage to your website and put your visitors at risk. The second reason is if you notice spammy web results on a competitive keyword your website is ranking on. This could indicate that your competition is using unethical tactics to gain an unfair advantage.
Report Spammy Content, Paid Links
If you notice spammy web results on a competitive keyword, you can report spammy content or paid links spam through Google Webmaster Tools. This tool is designed to help website owners report spammy content that violates Google’s quality guidelines. However, it’s important to use this tool with discretion. Don’t use it just because you want search positions above your competition. Falsely reporting web spam could be considered black hat SEO and harm your website’s reputation.
Report for Malware Attack
If your website has been attacked through a malicious hack, virus, or malware, you should report for the malware attack after you’ve removed the malicious code. A malware review is a process that checks your website for any signs of malware and removes any harmful code that may have been injected into your website. It’s important to take this step to protect your website and your visitors from harm.
Report for Phishing
If you believe you’ve encountered a page designed to look like another page in an attempt to steal users’ personal information, complete the form below to report the page to the Google Safe Browsing team.
How to Recover from Google Penalty?
If your website is the target of a negative SEO campaign of spammy links, you can use the Disavow Links Tool in Google Webmaster Tools. This tool allows you to tell Google to ignore certain links that are pointing to your website. However, before using this tool, you should try to contact the webmasters who are pointing these links to your website and ask them to remove the links. If they refuse to do so, you can use the Disavow Links Tool as a last resort.