Black Hat SEO – A Descriptive Guide for Beginners

Appearing in the top search results is essential for business growth, but there are many ways to do so. The dark art of black hat SEO is the wrong path. Black hat SEO attempts to game search engine algorithms. 

Continuous use of black hat SEO techniques is more likely to harm than help your search engine presence. These practices violate the search engine terms of service and may result in the site being banned from the search engine and affiliate sites.

What is Black Hat SEO

Black hat SEO refers to methods of ranking a website that violate search engine guidelines. It is an attempt to manipulate search engine algorithms to boost site rankings on SERPs.

Search engines, like Google to Bing, make it very clear which types of practices are prohibited. Using black hat SEO tactics can result in your website being penalized, resulting in lower ranking positions and, most likely, a decrease in organic traffic. Black hat techniques include keyword stuffing, cloaking, and using private link networks.

Black Hat SEO Techniques

The entire purpose of search engine algorithms is to provide users with the most relevant results for their queries. Marketers who use black hat SEO techniques effectively steal higher SERP positions from those who use well-established and organic white hat methods

Here are some of the black hat SEO techniques:

  1. Keyword Stuffing
  2. Cloaking
  3. Paid Links
  4. Hidden Text and Links
  5. Poor Quality Content
  6. Doorway pages
  7. Sneaky redirects
  8. Link Farms
  9. Private Blog Networks
  10. Article Spinning
Also read: White Hat SEO – The Ultimate Guide to Double Your Search Traffic

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing refers to the practice of filling your content with irrelevant keywords in an attempt to manipulate where the page ranks on search results pages. Adding multiple variations of keywords where they add no value creates a bad experience for users. It may also cause your page to rank for irrelevant queries. You can do keyword research to find out what people are searching for but overusing these keywords in your content is not a good idea. Rather than filling your content with irrelevant keywords, concentrate on creating useful content that focuses on topics over keywords.

Google explains Keyword stuffing as

  • Lists of phone numbers without substantial added value
  • Blocks of text that list cities and states that a webpage is trying to rank for
  • Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural
keyword stuffing-Black Hat SEO

You can do keyword research to find out what people are searching for but overusing these keywords in your content is not a good idea. Rather than filling your content with irrelevant keywords, concentrate on creating useful content that focuses on topics over keywords.

Cloaking

Cloaking is a strategy that involves serving different content or URLs to users and search engines, resulting in a different experience for each.

In other words,

Cloaking entails displaying one piece of content to users while displaying a different piece of content to search engines. Websites using black hat SEO will do this for their content to rank for a variety of irrelevant terms. Spam websites will frequently do this to avoid a search engine bot discovering the spam content they serve to users.

For example: 

A user searching for smartphones clicks on the search result best smartphones and is greeted with a travel and tourism site. This practice is not following the search engine guidelines, which say to create content for users not for the search engines.

Paid Links

A high-quality, relevant link can drive traffic to your website while also indicating to Google’s algorithm that you are a reliable source.

A good backlink can also help Google map your website so that it has a better idea of what is all about and can serve you up as a search result more easily.

According to Google – Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Link schemes are one of the most common types of black hat SEO, and they are often the source of much confusion. Some SEOs and website owners engage in the practice of buying and selling PageRankpassing links, indifferent to the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact on their sites. Purchasing or selling links that pass PageRank is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can harm a site’s ranking in search results.

Hidden Text and Link

Hiding text or links in your content to manipulate Google’s search rankings can be considered deceptive and is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Hidden text is text or link that is the same color as the background, positioned off the screen or behind an image, or purposefully hidden from users by using CSS or font size of zero. 

To increase keyword density or improve internal link structure, this technique is used to incorporate irrelevant keywords and hide text or links.

Text such as excessive keywords can be hidden in several ways, including:

  • Using white text on a white background
  • Locating text behind an image
  • Setting the font size to 0
  • Hiding a link by only linking one small character—for example, a hyphen in the middle of a paragraph

Poor Quality Content

Poor quality content with no value to the searcher is another common practice in black hat SEO. This includes content scraped from another website by a person or a bot. Search engines like Google used to be bad at detecting content that had been copied from other websites. This problem was fixed by the Google Panda update in 2011

Some examples of scraping include:

  • Sites that copy and republish content from other sites without adding any original content or value
  • Sites that copy content from other sites, modify it slightly (for example, by substituting synonyms or using automated techniques), and republish it
  • Sites that reproduce content feeds from other sites without providing some type of unique organization or benefit to the user
  • Sites dedicated to embedding content such as video, images, or other media from other sites without substantial added value to the user

Doorway Pages

Doorways are websites or pages that are designed to rank for specific, related search queries. They are harmful to users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, with each result ultimately leading the user to the same destination.

Doorway pages are pages that exist solely to appear in search results. Some websites may create multiple doorway pages that all rank for the same term but provide no unique value on their own due to the similar subject matter, and they ultimately drive visitors back to the same place.

Sneaky Redirects

The act of redirecting a visitor to a different URL other than the one they originally requested is known as redirect. There are numerous valid reasons to redirect one URL to another, such as when relocating your website to a new address or combining several pages into one.

Some redirects, however, deceive search engines or display content to human users that are not available to crawlers.

It tries to show different content to users and Googlebot, and it can take a visitor somewhere they did not expect to go.

For example,

  • Search engines display one type of content while redirecting users to something completely different.
  • Desktop users are directed to a standard page, while mobile users are redirected to a completely different spam domain.

Link Farms

A link farm is a website or a collection of websites developed only for link building. It is considered a black hat technique as it contains low quality and irrelevant content

Private Blog Networks

A private blog network (PBN) is a network of websites created solely to link to another website and increase its organic search visibility.

PBN-Black Hat SEO

Like a black hat, SEO wants to build a private network to buy an expired domain that already has high authority. They will write similar content that is already existing in the domain and give a link to their site. Search Engine can easily spot such activity and can hit with a severe penalty if you’re using PBNs to improve search presence

Article Spinning

It includes rewriting a single article to generate multiple copies, each of which appears to be a new article. Such articles’ content is repetitive, poorly written, and of little value to visitors. Such articles are regularly uploaded in this technique to create the illusion of new articles.

How to Report Black Hat SEO

When you believe a website is ranking because of paid links, spam, or other violations, you can file a spam report with Google. While reporting a site does not result in immediate action, it does improve algorithmic spam detection.

Bottom Line

The benefits of the black hat path are short-term. They are also unethical because they make the internet worse. But you cannot do something right unless you know how to do it wrong, which is why every white hat SEO should be familiar with the black hat path. It is entirely up to you to decide which technique to use for your website.