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What is Black Hat SEO? What are the Black Hat SEO Techniques you should Avoid

Contributors: Amol Ghemud
Published: August 14, 2018

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Black Hat SEO techniques are usually aggressive techniques which manipulate Google into thinking that your page is more relevant than others and thus deserves to be ranked higher, even although actually it isn’t.

In other words, it is any technique which doesn’t follow the natural course of actions and which goal is to push your site up the ladder (in an aggressive manner) is a black hat SEO technique.

It is crucial to note that Google doesn’t have an official list of black hat SEO techniques. But it does announce and publish “What it prefers” kind of blog posts from time to time via interviews, press-releases and stuff, so anything against those preferences is likely to be a black-hat technique.

Do you want to optimize your website, drive more traffic and deliver higher conversions? This is a checklist that we follow, and can get your site to rank consistently on top of search engines. Download this ultimate SEO Checklist which includes On-Page SEO as well as Off-Page SEO techniques that will help you rank well on the search engines.

Why is black hat SEO bad?

This question is pops up at numerous occasions why we call it as harmful black hat SEO techniques. Well, black hat SEO is often used to boost pages that don’t necessarily provide the most value to users. Common black hat SEO techniques aim to impress search engine robots, but they don’t always provide the best or most relevant content to their human readers. Search engines fight black hat SEO because their ultimate aim is to provide searchers with the most useful content.

Using black hat SEO technique doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have relevant content, but it does mean you’re fine with cheating and breaking the rules – and if you get caught as the search engine algorithms wise up to your tricks, your website could end up in the search engine jailhouse.

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Black Hat SEO techniques to avoid

1. Keyword Stuffing

In early days, to be ranked higher in the page ranks, people used to stuff the page with the keywords which will provide a higher rank, and get an exact-match domain, and proof you’re ranked higher.

But since late of 2012, Google got smarter and actively started recognizing keyword-stuffed pages and as a result penalizing them. So stuffing your page with the same keywords from top to bottom was listed as a black hat SEO technique.

The best solution to this is to insert your keywords while not triggering an alert is to use LSIs. They basically are keywords with the same meaning as your primary keyword, but don’t necessarily spell the same.

2. Cloaking

Cloaking is another one of the top black hat SEO techniques back in the days when Google wasn’t so clever. It basically means to insert a script on your website, which shows one piece of content to search engine bots and completely different to the users.

This technique was used to rank for certain keywords by showing clean SEO pages to Google bots, whereas in reality when a human users landed on the site, they were bombarded with flash installers, images and other spam content.

SEO specialists use this technique to manipulate the search engine bot as to the number of pages the website has. The website shows thousands of pages to search engine bots, while users see the website with several pages with worthless content in the most cases.

3. Private Blog Networks

This are better known as PBNs. These are the trendiest, in-fashion black hat SEO techniques being used by SEOs all across the planet. As suggested by the name, they are a bunch of blogs, owned by the same person or group of people, created with the sole purpose of passing link juice to the primary website.

They contain very low quality content with links pointing to the primary website. This technique is quite popular nowadays as even if these blogs are penalized, the primary site remains safe. It’s a strategy that hasn’t been actively detected by Google yet.

4. Web 2.0s

Web 2.0s are nothing but the lighter version of PBNs. They do not need a custom domain, or server as they are built on the free web 2.0 properties (blogger / Tumblr / WordPress etc).
They are not content or quality rich, but are used as it’s slightly higher to boost the domain authority and other metrics for such web 2.0 properties. As far as Google is concerned, any link which has been made manually to boost ranking is an unnatural link. So obviously Google doesn’t trust web 2.0s.

5. Purchasing lots of irrelevant links

Earlier people used to build hundreds of links in a day and your site popped up on the 1st search results page, not any more. Today, Google values quality a lot more than quantity.

So it’s of utmost important for your links to be from relevant sites, even though lesser in number.

It should be noted that even if you get a bunch of backlinks from the relevant sites, you can also be penalized, because Google knows that no one gets organic links that fast and in so less time.

So, making a lot of links isn’t the best approach, in fact, it’s one of the worst as they’re instantly detected by Google unlike some other black-hat techniques on this list. The solution? You need to get relevant, quality links, at a reasonable time-gap.

6. ClickBaiting

This is a simpler, easier version of cloaking and is primarily popular on Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Clickbaiting is the practice of using falsified data, misleading images and catchy headlines which are there only to grab the attention of the readers, without really being true or legit.

It’s not exactly a black hat SEO technique, but the traffic that you gain from those kind of clickbaits does convert and add to your overall SEO efforts.
Google and Facebook both have taken steps against clickbaiting recently. At present clickbaiting is widely used, as it not on the direct radar of Google, but in near future, it will be.

7. Domain redirection

It’s one of the top black hat techniques, which give serious results. But, it’s still black-hat. It basically is the process of registering an expired domain, with good metrics and authority, and it generally is an EMD (exact match domain) for your keyword, or highly related to it.

So once the domain is acquired, it is permanently redirected to your primary site, and thus all it gets all the authority and juice.

But then again, it’s not a practice you should be indulged in, cause sooner or later Google will figure it out (it figures everything out) and then your years of hard work go down the drain.

8. Page Switching

It’s the act of taking up a page which is ranked on Google and is getting good traffic, and then changing its content altogether. What a lot of black-hats do is target queries which have good search volume and seem helpful to the users.
And then, once the page is ranked, they change the content to something of commercial value. Basically, the user totally gets mislead and doesn’t get his problem solved.

Now, the primary goal of search engines is to “help users land on the most appropriate, useful links”. So if your link is in exact contrast to that agenda, and you’re caught, best case you’re penalized, worst case you’re banned for good.

9. Spun Content

It’s primarily used by people who either can’t or won’t write useful, unique content. There is a plethora of tools available on the internet which let you take up existing content on the web, and spin them.

Spun content is basically the same content, with most of the words being replaced by their synonyms. So what happens is, the content remains the same, but it doesn’t trigger a duplicate content alert because the sentences aren’t exactly the same.

Although this greatly reduces content quality, and readability thus, as a result, your content isn’t unique, and users hit the back button (pogo-sticking) because they can’t understand what’s written, and this finally lowers your rankings.

10. Duplicate Content

Copy pasting content is again one of the most harmful black hat SEO techniques, although it’s sheer waste as now Google tracks duplicate content almost instantly.

The reason it’s being mentioned here is that it’s still a prevalent technique, and a large number of people still do use it. Bottom line is not to repeat and to not copy-paste content. Create unique and high-quality content.

11. Hidden Text

This black hat technique refers to the text and links of a page’s content that is invisible to the user while still visible to the search engine scanning the page. This allows black hat doers the ability to reap the benefits of having certain content on a page without having to actually present it to anyone to see.

Search engines would continue to rank pages as if this content was actually on-page, providing an illegitimate ranking. Shame on you, black hat SEO.

12. Paid Links

Black hat SEO an infamous technique that improperly executes linking, knowing that link building is pivotal in the world of SEO. In black hat SEO technique, links are paid for based on page ranking in order to obtain a higher search result standing.

White hat SEO focuses on providing, implementing, and embedding internal linking as well as other relevant site’s links in their content, black hat SEO techniques focus on not doing any of the work, yet reaping the benefits through paying for links.

To conclude:

Black hat SEO techniques aren’t pre-defined, in fact, most started off as skyrocketing techniques, which boosted your ranks ridiculously.

But Google is getting smarter by the day, so no matter what your technique is, Google will find it out. So all I can say is, if you’re thinking long-term, distance yourself as far away from the above-mentioned techniques as possible.

About the Author

amol ghemud
Optimizer in Chief

Amol has helped catalyse business growth with his strategic & data-driven methodologies. With a decade of experience in the field of marketing, he has donned multiple hats, from channel optimization, data analytics and creative brand positioning to growth engineering and sales.

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