Black hat SEO is the practice of SEO that contravenes search engine guidelines and best practice.
Google and the other search engines want to provide users with the most relevant and valuable results, not spammy results. Appearing high on the search engine results page is therefore key for your business growth.
However there are ways and means to get to the coveted top spot, both good and bad, and one of the bad ways, one that is decidedly frowned upon, is black hat SEO.
What is black hat SEO
Black hat SEO is the practice of SEO that contravenes search engine guidelines and best practice. Its aim is to work the search engine algorithms to your advantage, to get you and your business to the sought after top spot through underhand methods, rather than through hard work and earning the right to be there.
Black hat SEO focuses on beating the system, rather than focussing on your user’s needs. It is a shady practice , one that if you practice today, will find you heavily penalised by the search engines, when they discover what you’re up to.
Why is black hat SEO used
Black hat SEO is an unethical practice that is used to boost a website’s search engine ranking higher in the results than it otherwise should be.
What are black hat SEO techniques
Black hat SEO techniques can include, but aren’t limited to:
- Keyword stuffing. The art of ramming keywords into all available spaces, in order to manipulate the page ranking results, without so much as a thought to the reader. Keyword stuffing makes an article spammy and read poorly. Examples of keyword stuffing according to Google:
- Lists of phone numbers without substantial added value.
- Blocks of text listing cities and states a webpage is trying to rank for.
- Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural, for example: we sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at [email protected]
- Cloaking. The practice of giving users one thing and the search engines another. Cloaking is done so that a website ranks for several terms, none of which are relevant. Tailoring your content to your different user personas is acceptable, changing the content that search engine spiders view is not.
- Redirects. Redirecting users to a different website than the one they initially clicked the link for is a redirection, and it is considered very poor form indeed. Redirection is similar to cloaking in that the link will direct users to one page and the search engine spiders to another.
- Tiny or hidden text and links. Putting illegible links and text on your page, or spamming the pages with invisible keywords in order to appear legitimate on the face of it, but with the aim of misleading the search engine spiders.
- Page swapping. Where you get a page ranked on Google and then you switch out the content to something completely different.
- Duplicating content. Copying content is plagiarism, not flattery. The Google Panda update in 2011 set about cracking down on this, penalising anyone who had duplicate content. They’re now ninja-like on it.
- Blog comment spam. Automatically including links alongside comments on blog posts to increase the number of inbound links to a page.
- Paid links. Buying low quality links to sites with unrelated or low quality content for the purpose of boosting your link sharing and trying to appear more authoritative than you are. Google explicitly states: “any links 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.”
- Link farming. A way to exaggerate the number of links a website has in order to make it appear more authoritative and popular than it actually is.
Is black hat SEO illegal
Black hat SEO is not illegal, however it does violate the search engines’ guidelines, which means by doing it, you are breaking the rules governing how you use their site.
What are the consequences of doing black hat SEO
If you’re discovered undertaking black hat SEO activities expect to be heavily penalised and bumped significantly down the results by the search engines, or even wiped off the face of the search results altogether.
Doing black hat SEO will not just affect your page ranking, but it will mean your website gets fewer visitors, you will get less sales and your business growth will suffer hugely.
Why does Google hate black hat SEO
Because Google doesn’t want to be associated with promoting spammy links and irrelevant content. It is the number one search engine, and the only way they can retain that title is by ranking the most legitimate websites highly, not the ones that cheated and paid their way to the top.