Black Hat SEO

Joran Hofman
March 6, 2021

What is Black Hat SEO?

Black hat SEO is practice used to increase a website’s ranking in search results against search engine guidelines. This is an unethical tactic that seeks to manipulate search engine results and can result in a penalty from the search engines.


What Are Black Hat SEO Techniques?

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing consists of filling the content with non-relational or irrelevant keywords to the text, with the intention of manipulating the ranks on search result pages.

Below are common ways of doing so.

  • Repeating the same phrases or words more than it is necessary
  • Listing places such as cities and countries that the page is trying to attract

Cloaking

Websites that practice black hat SEO do this to make their page show up in search for a variety of different terms and words irrelevant to what is on their article. They do this by showing different content to the users and the search engines. This practice is very common on spam websites.

Sneaky Redirects

Sneaky redirects send the user to a different URL and not the one they originally clicked. Redirects are generally not meant for this purpose, they should redirect the person to the page they want to see. 

In this practice there could be malicious programs that can cause viruses to your computer if redirected to a malicious page.

Recommended Reading: How to Do Keyword Research for SEO

Poor Quality Content: 

Poor quality content can be generated in many different ways. It’s content that provides no value to the reader and is a common practice in black hat SEO. This includes content scraped from others websites either by a bot or a person. Before 2011 search engines had difficulty recognizing duplicate or low quality content and after the release of the Google Panda algorithm things have improved substantially.

Another common practice of people who participate in black hat SEO is to add invisible keywords to the content of a web page. This is done by placing the text of the same color as the background, with the intent that the page appears in the search results of those keywords.

Another form of black hat to manipulate search engines with the "bait and switch" method. In this method you create content around a topic to achieve ranking. Once the page is ranked in search results for this topic, the content is swapped out with something else. This affects search engines negatively because when you click on the content it no longer exists. These practices trick users and search engines and they are not a good way to do SEO.

Paid Links:

Paying money in exchange for links is not considered good by search engines.Google prohibits paid links but most people still participate in it. For this reason Google says that "any link intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines". 

In order for this not to happen you should avoid paying any other site to link to your content.  In order to reduce this practice, search engines encourage users to report these cases. If this happens to your website and you wish to correct it you may remove such links yourself by using the Google disavow tool.

Abusing Structured Data/Rich Snippets:

These are also known as rich fragments and schemes. They help to change how your content is displayed in search engine results pages and how your content will stand out from the competition. They can be used on a page that has a podcast, a recipe, a book for example.

This practice of black hat SEO involves providing inaccurate information in structured data to fool search engines and users. This is a very risky practice as search engines like Google encourage users to report websites misusing structured data.

Recommended tool: Google Search Console

Blog Comment Spam

This black hat technique consists of adding a link from your website within the comments section of a blog on another page. Currently it is not effective because of the fact that search engines don’t put any weight on backlinks coming from post comments. 

If you own a publication, forum or community that allows comments you need to ensure that your comments section can’t be spammed by either bots or people. 

Link Farms

It is a website or a collection of websites created for the sole purpose of creating links, here a website links to the site or sites you want to appear on to obtain the highest ranking in search engines. The number of links that go to a website is one of the factors that search engines use to rank them.

Private Blog Networks

A private blog network (PBN) is a collection of websites that are used only for link building. They are similar to link farms because they are used to increase the number of links that go to a website.

To make a private network Black Hat SEOs use expired domains that already have authority and are relevant. They will modify them by creating content similar to what was on the domain before it expired and will add links to their own website.