Black hat SEO refers to a set of unethical practices used to rank higher in search engine results, and they often violate search engine guidelines. Black hat practices may include keyword stuffing, cloaking, content automation, hidden links or text and other actions that lead to penalties and bans from search engines, if applied.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat is an unethical SEO practice, used to get a higher site ranking in search results. Most black hat actions violate search engine guidelines and often result in a penalty. Therefore, websites practicing black hat SEO get banned from search engines.
Why should you avoid Black Hat SEO techniques?
Black hat SEO can get a website banned from search engines, as its ranking does not benefit visitors, and the strategy goes against guidelines.
Black hat SEO techniques may include:
- Content automation. The usage of tools to publish automated content based on specific industries or topics. This tactic is not recommended as it usually provides low-quality content and structure.
- Keyword stuffing. A tactic that is known as webspam or spamdexing as well. Keyword stuffing refers to website pages that use a very high number of keywords across all the content (tags, anchor texts, and actual content) just to rank higher in search engines, while it has a low relevance.
- Cloaking. A tactic that presents different content to the search engine crawler than the one in the reader's browser.
- Hidden Text or Links. This is a straightforward tactic used to trick search engine crawlers, and it refers to the words or phrases added to a website page using the same color as the background. This is done to make a set of keywords, texts or links invisible to readers, as it is not necessarily relevant, but crawled by the spider.
- Private link networks or Sneaky Redirects. These are techniques meant to trick search engines when it comes to the number of backlinks. Private link networks are used to build links (and pass link juice) to a single website, to rank higher in search engines. While redirecting visitors to another page is a good tactic, some redirects deceive search engines or display content to human users that is different than that made available to crawlers. Some examples of sneaky redirects include:
- Search engines show one type of content, while users are redirected to something significantly different.
- Desktop users receive a regular page, while mobile users are redirected to a completely different spam domain.
- Reporting Competitors or Negative SEO refers to a set of activities with the intention of lowering a competitor's ranking in search results. To do so, websites may build unnatural links to the competitor site, or scrape and repost the content to be seen as duplicate by crawlers. Some take it even further and hack the website to modify its content and make it less SEO friendly or relevant.
- Link farms. A typical black hat tactic that refers to a set of web pages created just to link to a target page, in order to build backlinks, and to improve that page's ranking.
- Duplicate content across multiple pages and sites