What Is Black Hat SEO?

Black hat SEO consists of unethical link-building tactics that gain traffic to a site via sneaky shortcuts, without the help of legitimate organic traffic to that site. Black hat tactics should be avoided at all costs because Google knows (or will find out, eventually) Google always knows.  Here are a few examples of black hat techniques used to “cheat the system,” so to speak.

Keyword Stuffing

Google defines keyword stuffing as the practice of filing a web page with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Oftentimes, these words appear out of context or in a way that does not create any added value to the site. Keywords and phrases should be utilized in a natural, contextual manner that adds value to the page and proves helpful to site users.

Automatically Generated/Duplicate Content

Another black hat SEO technique is publishing automatically generated or duplicate content on your site. This can be done via scraping content from a different website, either by a bot or a person. Luckily, the 2011 Google Panda update helped alleviate instances of this practice, but it’s still a dubious practice one should be aware of. Another method of generating throwaway content is by hiding words on a page by making the text the same color as the background. This is another dubious practice that produces nothing helpful for the user, who may unwittingly go to a page expecting useful content, but finding nothing of value.

Unexpected Redirects & Cloaking

This black hat practice involves sending users to a different site than the one they found via a search engine, in order to gain artificial traffic for a site. Similarly, cloaking is often performed by redirecting users to a different page than they thought they were clicking on, after finding a site via a search engine. It can also include adding hidden text to webpages, building websites in flash, email cloaking (masking the name and address of the sender), and creating websites with a low text to HTML ratio. All of the above techniques are considered to be black hat SEO techniques are looked down upon by Google, so it’s best to avoid them.

Paid Links

If there is any money exchanged between webmasters or site owners for link placement, that is considered a violation of Google Guidelines, and also known as link schemes. For example, it can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results if you exchange money for links or posts that contain links; exchange goods or services for links; or send someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing it and including a link. Google extensively outlines all the details on their Search Central Guidelines page, so if you’re in doubt, consult the source.

Blog Comment Spam

This used to be a very common way for link builders to gain traffic to their websites. However, it’s now commonly looked down upon as a spammy practice, so avoid it at all costs. It won’t help your page ranking, and the owners of the site where you’re commenting will likely view your site as lower quality and illegitimate, as a result. Furthermore, Google updated its algorithm in order to discount any links in blog comments.

Link Farms & Private Blog Networks

According to Hubspot, a link farm is a website or collection of websites developed for the sole purpose of link building. Therefore, each website links back to the site or sites they want to rank higher in the search engines. These sites often contain blog articles or other content with obvious keyword stuffing and phrases that are linked back to the sites they want to rank higher. Because their tactics are so transparent, Google is usually able to detect these farms fairly easily, so it’s best to employ more long-lasting, organic link-building techniques that will allow you to gain natural traffic, instead. If you’re looking for quality link building that utilizes tried and true techniques like creating high-quality content, graphics, and other useful evergreen resources to naturally gain organic traffic, over time, contact Digital Division for all your site optimization and content marketing needs. Get in touch with us today!