Black Hat SEO Practices : Why you Should Definitely Not be Doing

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Google’s first page of search engine results is a highly competitive place these days. As Google receives trillions of searches annually, search engine optimization (SEO) is among the most important tools for increasing organic traffic to a site.

There are a variety of back hat tactics, ranging from keyword stuffing and PBNs to content automation and tier-based link building.

Recognized Black Hat SEO Tactics

If you wish to stay on the right side of Google and other search engines, you should not use the following black hat SEO tactics:

  • Automating content
  • A Doorway Page
  • Links or hidden text
  • Stuffing keywords
  • Falsely reporting competition
  • Tricky Redirects 
  • Cloaking
  • Link Schemes
  • Networks for guest posting
  • Buying links (link manipulation)
  • Spinning articles
  • Link Farms, Link Wheels or Link Networks
  • Spam using Rich Snippet Markup
  • Automated Google searches
  • Duplicating content on pages, subdomains, or domains
  • Websites that contain malware, such as phishing, viruses, trojans, and other threats

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Black Hat Techniques in SEO

Stuffing Keywords

In order to manipulate where your page appears on search results pages, keyword stuffing is the practice of stuffing your content with irrelevant keywords. User experience is adversely affected by adding multiple variations of keywords with no added value. In addition, irrelevant queries may rank your page.

Here’s an example of keyword stuffing for a website selling dried spices and herbs:

“We sell Dried herbs and spices. Dried herbs and spices are what we sell. Our company will sell you dried herbs and spices. “

As you’ll agree, that sounds a little repetitive. Google will understand that the content is unnatural as soon as they hear it.

Finding out what people are searching for can be done with keyword research, but being overzealous with these keywords is not recommended. You should instead create content that focuses on topics over keywords rather than stuffing it with irrelevant keywords.

Cloaking

A false search engine listing is displayed to users and users are shown a different search engine listing. The purpose of black hat SEO is to make content rank for irrelevant search terms. This is often done by spam websites in order to avoid being discovered in search engine results by search engines.

Content can be tailored to meet the needs of different groups of users. Perhaps when someone visits your website from a mobile device, you will reduce the website’s size. Depending on the country someone is visiting from, a page could also be translated into another language. It is perfectly acceptable for such examples to occur. You may change content as long as it is not merely modified for search engine crawlers.

My best advice is to ask yourself whether what you intend to do will make the user happier or less happy? 

Using Sneaky Redirects

Redirecting someone involves sending them to a different URL than they clicked on originally. A black hat SEO practice uses redirects for purposes other than what they were intended for. Cloaking can be done in the same way by redirecting a search engine crawler to one page and all users to another.

Another example is redirected traffic from a highly authoritative page with a lot of backlinks to another irrelevant page for the sole purpose of increasing its search engine ranking. 301 redirects the authority onto the new page. Using redirects solely as a means of manipulating search engine results is considered black hat SEO.

It is recommended to only use redirects for the purposes they were designed for. Perhaps you are changing the domain of your website or combining two different types of content. On some occasions, JavaScript can be used to redirect the user. Take LinkedIn, for instance, which redirects you to someone’s full profile when logged in, instead of showing you the public version of a user’s profile when logged out. Avoid sneaky redirects instead. Using them will violate search engine guidelines such as those from Google and Yandex.

Poor Quality Content

Another common black hat SEO practice is producing low-quality content that offers no value to the searcher. By scraping another website, we mean obtaining content either by bot or human.

 There was a time when search engines like Google weren’t very good at detecting duplicate content on other websites. That changed with the Google Panda update in 2011. 

There was an immediate drop in search rankings for sites with duplicate content. The search engine giant has improved its ability to detect duplicate and low-quality content over the past few years.

It is also illegal to include invisible keywords in your content. This is accomplished by making the text the same color as the page background on websites that engage in black hat SEO. 

Despite the absence of visible content on the page, those invisible keywords could still be found in search results. The keyword hides the content a user was looking for when they click on the result believing it will be the content they searched for. 

Another way to trick search engines is through the bait-and-switch tactic. You create content that revolves around the topic you wish to rank for. The content is changed once the page has ranked for this topic. 

As a result, searchers will not be able to find the content they clicked on. This type of SEO is harmful to both users and search engines.

A white hat SEO strategy involves writing original, quality content. Additionally, it will set your website apart from others and help you avoid a penalty from search engines. 

You can turn visitors into customers by creating high-quality content.

Paid Links

Link-buying and link-selling are strictly prohibited by search engines such as Google. A link scheme or the use of free products to manipulate Google search results is considered a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a website’s ranking in Google search results are prohibited. 

Any site that links to your content should not be paid to link to it. People who buy or sell links are asked by Google to tell them about it. Once the practice is detected, they will penalize both buyers and sellers.

You should remove your links as soon as possible if you are reading this after purchasing links unaware that they are black hat SEO tactics.

 Disavow links also allows you to tell Google not to use paid links when calculating your PageRank if you are unable to get webmasters to remove the links.

Using Structured Data/Rich Snippets for inappropriate purposes

Rich snippets and schema are also referred to as structured data. Search engine results in pages in Google can be customized by altering your content. Your content gets more exposure on search engine results pages when you stand out from your competitors. 

Among other products and services, structured data can be added to pages displaying podcasts, recipes, and books. Probably the most popular structured data format is the reviews schema markup.

The goal of black hat SEO is to trick search engines and users by providing misleading information in structured data. 

Blackhat SEO practitioners, for example, might display structured data that makes their results stand out on search result pages by awarding themselves five stars from a fake review site. Google, for example, encourages users to report websites with structured data misuse, so this is a very risky practice.

Marking up accurate information shouldn’t prevent you from using truthful language on your web pages. The white hat method of structured data addition is my recommendation. 
If you provide users with helpful information, then you don’t have to worry. Structured data guidelines are documented by Google and they also have a tool that helps you test your structured data.

Spam Comments on Blogs

By including links to your website in blog comments, this black hat technique is as its name implies. As a result of search engines updating their algorithms, links in blog comments are less common these days. 

 

The links in blog comments of most authoritative blogs are now nofollow by default. The link is not followed nor does it pass any authority to search engines such as Google.

 

You need to ensure the comments section of your publication, forum or community cannot be spammed by bots or people if you allow comments. 

 

Spam-containing pages will be demoted or removed from search results by search engines like Google. One way to mitigate the risk of spam user-generated content is to use anti-spam tools such as Google’s free reCAPTCHA tool.

Link Farms

The term “link farm” describes a website or a group of websites developed only with the goal of generating links. Several websites link to sites they hope to rank higher in search engine results. 

Links pointing to a website are among the factors that search engines consider when ranking websites. This is exploited by black hat SEO by inflating the number of backlinks a certain site has.

A link farm usually has low-quality content and many links. Their anchor text generally reflects the keyword they would like the site to rank for. 

Using link farms should be avoided since search engines can detect them easily. You should instead use white hat SEO tactics to earn backlinks naturally over time, like creating compelling content, graphs, data, and interviews.

Creating a Private Blog Network

Private blog networks (PBN) consist of a collection of highly authoritative websites used only to build links. The aim of both is to create as many links as possible pointing to a website. Unlike reciprocal links, PBN sites don’t link to one another but link to the site they want to boost in the search results.

The Risks of Black Hat SEO

Black hat SEO methods come with significant risks, which is why many SEOs avoid using them. This type of practice is considered unethical by most in the SEO industry.

Although marketing is becoming increasingly organic, there will always be a small percentage of marketers who want to hack the system and try to gain an unfair advantage. 

It is often difficult to maintain the results of black hat SEO techniques, even if they prove to be successful. 

We can clearly see from Google’s Webmaster Guidelines that the following basic principles apply to all of their guidelines:

Search engine rankings aren’t improved by tricks. You should consider whether an employee at Google or a website that competes with you would feel comfortable explaining what you did. The question of whether a process is useful for my users is also a useful test. Would I follow this if search engines didn’t exist?

If search engines didn’t exist, these black hat tactics would not be used, because they don’t benefit users

Lastly

Black hat SEO practices only work for a small period of time before search engines recognise what you are doing and penalise you for the practices. In the end it will cause more harm than good for your website. 

About the Author

My name’s Semil Shah, and I pride myself on being the last digital marketer that you’ll ever need. Having worked internationally across agile and disruptive teams from San Fransico to London, I can help you take what you are doing in digital to a whole next level.

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