The potential benefits of ranking on Google often entice webmasters to enter into the murky territory of black hat SEO.
Black hat SEO refers to using manipulative techniques to rank on Google.
But, although they can be effective temporarily, blackhat methods can sink your site for good.
In this guide, we'll uncover the dark side of SEO. By the end, you'll know what are black hat tactics and why using them puts your site at risk.
Let's dive in.
What is Black Hat SEO? What are the Tools, Techniques, and Examples
Black Hat SEO Meaning
So, what is black hat SEO? Black hat SEO refers to strategies that violate search engine criteria.
These practices are deceptive in nature and aim to fool search algorithms. The goal is to propel a website higher on search engines and attract more traffic.
The good thing is it’s not hard to tell good SEO practices from bad ones.
Search engines like Google have clear criteria on what’s black hat and what’s acceptable.
The consequences of black hat tactics are clear as well. Going the black-hat route can result in a manual Google penalty.
The result is lost traffic and a lot of wasted resources.
Although you can get away with it for a while, you’re always at a risk of getting caught.
You can recover from a penalty as well, but it’s not worth going through all the effort.
Black Hat SEO Techniques
Now that you know what is black hat marketing, let’s talk about the techniques used commonly to trick search engines and rank higher on SERPs.
Keyword stuffing is when you add irrelevant keywords to a piece of content for the sole purpose of ranking it organically.
Even when the keyword is relevant, using it too many times for the sake of SEO is against Google’s guidelines.
Search engines want to present the best possible content to their users.
When you stuff yours with keywords, it doesn’t offer a good user experience.
The consequence of keyword stuffing is obvious: Your competitor eventually gets a higher-ranking position.
Even though you may be able to trick the system and rank high temporarily.
Using text that search engines can read but isn’t visible to the user also falls under black hat SEO.
It can be of two types:
- Text that’s too tiny to read by a human
- Text that has the same color as the background
It doesn’t add any value to the page and is purely used to manipulate search engine rankings.
Blog Comment Spam
Excessive blog commenting is another way to trick search algorithms.
The practice involves posting links to your website in blog comments.
Like most shady link building tactics, blog comment spamming has become ineffective over time.
Google and other search engines can now identify these links and don’t consider them useful for organic rankings.
Doorway pages, or gateway pages, are pages used to redirect visitors to a page unrelated to the search query.
Black hat SEOs use these pages to trick search engines and manipulate their users.
Cloaking is a similar practice where different content pieces or URLs are presented to search engines and users.
Duplicate content, as a black hat SEO strategy, involves publishing the same content on different pages or domains.
The purpose can be to:
- Rank for several keywords without having to write fresh content
- Flood search engines with multiple identical pages in hopes of ranking for one of them
But, in reality, duplicate content confuses search engines.
Plus, Google and other search engines are sophisticated enough to identify duplicate content.
So, none of these web pages can stay ranked for a long time.
An article spinner is a tool that takes a piece of content and spins it.
The goal of using such tools is to avoid plagiarism.
Spun content may pass duplicate content detection, but it doesn’t add value.
Using redirects on a website is a part of a good SEO strategy. It makes sure your website is easily navigable and well-organized.
The result is a better user experience and search engine visibility.
But, the problem arises when you use redirects for manipulative purposes.
For instance, black hat SEOs show a different page to search engines and take the user to a different URL.
It’s a clear violation of Google’s guidelines, which makes it a black hat SEO method.
Black hat SEO isn’t always about trying to rank your own website. It can also be about bringing a competitor down.
Negative SEO is when someone uses unethical practices to hurt the rankings of their competitor.
This normally means implementing black hat marketing on a website you don’t own.
For instance, some people would point a large number of spammy links to a competitor just to get the site penalized by Google.
Not that this practice has somewhat become less effective as Google is getting better at identifying them.
But, it’s important that you analyze your backlink profile on a regular basis to stay safe from such attacks.
You May Also Like: Link Farming Exposed (Understanding the Risks)
Black Hat SEO Tools
Some popular black hat SEO tools you should be aware of include:
GSA Search Engine Ranker
Tools like GSA Search Engine Ranker take link building to the next level by automating the process.
This means you don’t even have to build links manually. It requires minimal to no input from you.
But, of course, using tools to create backlinks isn’t what Google would recommend.
The Best Spinner
This is touted as the best article spinner in the market. The tool also comes with 1.7 GIGABYTES of resellable images. Not only that but it’s also equipped to generate audio files with the text-to-speech feature.
SENuke is one of the most comprehensive black hat SEO tools out there. Some popular features of SENuke are:
- Private blog network management
- Automatic link building
- Traffic monitoring
Scrapebox is one of the most popular web scraping tools in the market. It pulls data from any website and URL you through at him.
The tool relies on proxies as it’s essentially an automation tool.
In addition to scraping data, it’s also handy for automatic blog commenting.
Does Black Hat SEO Still Work?
Black hat marketing techniques could help you generate short-term results.
But, search engines, especially Google, are constantly getting advanced.
Search algorithms are smart enough to spot black hat SEO practices.
This means some strategies that used to work aren't effective anymore.
In fact, using any shady SEO tactics will put your site in jeopardy.
However, the issue is, sometimes, there’s no clear line between black and white.
If an SEO practice falls under the grey area, it’s not easy to classify it.
As a result, you can never be sure if they’ll work in the long run.
This makes gray hat SEO practices, and even some black hat ones, only suitable for testing purposes.
How to Report Black Hat SEO?
Although Google’s algorithms are getting good at detecting black hat SEO, they can still go undetected for a while.
The search engine might take a while before identifying these practices, so you can lend it a hand.
If you think your competitor is using shady ways to outrank you, simply file a report with Google.
This may not result in an instant penalty, but there will be an improved chance of algorithmic spam detection.
The good thing is even if you don’t report sites that use black hat SEO to rank on Google, the next algorithm update will take care of it.
Black Hat SEO: FAQs
Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about black hat SEO.
What is the Black Hat SEO Technique?
A black hat SEO technique involves practices that are against search engine guidelines. Implementing black hat SEO tactics can help with short-term gains, but they can’t bring in long-term results.
What are Examples of Blach Hat SEO?
Anything that goes against search engine guidelines can be classified as black hat SEO. Some black hat marketing examples are keyword stuffing, spamming blog post comment sections, using doorway pages, and more.
Is Black Hat SEO Safe?
Black hat SEO isn’t safe. It can hurt your site’s SEO, resulting in no organic traffic from search engines like Google. This is why it’s crucial to make sure you’re on the right track every step of the way.
Is Black Hat SEO Legal?
Black hat SEO isn’t legal because it violates the guidelines of a search engine you’re trying to rank on. A website using manipulative SEO tactics to rank gets caught and hit by a Google penalty almost always.
What are Black Hat Websites?
Black hat sites are a place where SEOs discuss different strategies to outrank their competitors. These black hat websites can be difficult to access through Google as they’re more of a hidden community.
It’s clear that when it comes to SEO, taking the quickest route often leads to short-term gains.
Black hat SEO could help you rank on Google, but will eventually damage your site’s long-term standings.
This is why businesses that aren’t too concerned about the long-term consequences and just want quick rankings are the most interested in it.