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What is Black Hat SEO? 9 risky techniques to avoid

Go back 10 years, and many mistakenly assumed that SEO was a manipulative marketing tactic that involved “cheating the algorithm” and using tactics to make Google think your website was the best result for a search query.

This should never have been the case, and SEOs should always have focused their efforts on creating the best result on the web, not just making it look like it is.

But Google’s algorithms were less advanced at this stage, especially when it came to identifying web spam.

In Black Hat SEO Many marketers prolifically used black hat SEO tactics to rank websites; However, times have changed. In this guide, we’re going to delve into techniques to avoid if you don’t want to violate the algorithm and Webmaster Quality Guidelines.

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What is Black Hat SEO? 9 risky techniques to avoid

Go back 10 years, and many mistakenly assumed that SEO was a manipulative marketing tactic that involved “cheating the algorithm” and using tactics to make Google think your website was the best result for a search query.

This should never have been the case, and SEOs should always have focused their efforts on creating the best result on the web, not just making it look like it is.

But Google’s algorithms were less advanced at this stage, especially when it came to identifying web spam.

Many marketers prolifically used black hat SEO tactics to rank websites; However, times have changed. In this guide, we’re going to delve into techniques to avoid if you don’t want to violate the algorithm and Webmaster Quality Guidelines.

Specifically, we will cover:

  • What is Black Hat SEO?
    The risks of Black Hat SEO
  • 3 reasons to avoid Black Hat SEO
  • 9 Black Hat SEO Tactics to Avoid
  • How to Report Black Hat SEO
  • What is Black Hat SEO?
    Black hat SEO are tactics used to rank a website that violates search engine guidelines. Black hat SEO techniques attempt to manipulate search engine algorithms to increase a site’s ranking in the SERPs.
    Search engines, from Google to Bing, make it very clear what kind of practices go against their terms. They are also quite clear about the possible results if you violate their guidelines. Using black hat SEO tactics can lead to your website being penalized (either algorithmically or with a manual action), which means lower ranking positions and, most likely, a decrease in organic traffic.

The risks of Black Hat SEO

There are significant risks involved with using black hat tactics to rank your website, and that’s why most SEOs choose not to consider such approaches. Most of the SEO industry considers these practices completely unethical.

But the reality is that there is, and probably always will be, a small percentage of marketers who want to try and cheat the system and try to accelerate the organic success of their site. However, even if black hat SEO techniques work for your website, the results are usually short-lived.

Looking at the Google Webmaster Guidelines, we can clearly see that their guidance on basic SEO principles:

Avoid tricks designed to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a competing website or a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”

When it comes to using black hat tactics, the fact is that these techniques do not help users and would not be used if search engines did not exist.

3 reasons to avoid Black Hat SEO

But what are the worst case scenarios if a site uses black hat SEO to rank?

Delving deeper into Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, we can see that they clearly state that such violations “may lead to a site being removed from Google’s index entirely or affected by algorithmic or manual spam action.” The guidelines also state that “if a site has been affected by spam, it may no longer appear in results on Google.com or any of Google’s partner sites.”

While SEO is all about increasing a website’s organic visibility and traffic, black hat tactics can result in the opposite of this. To help you understand why to avoid such approaches, we’ve broken this down into three key points..

1. It can negatively affect your visibility and search ranking

The number one reason not to use black hat SEO tactics is that they will ultimately cause your site to lose search rankings, visibility, and traffic.

Just take a look at the following. This is the visibility of a site that engaged in unnatural tactics and was negatively affected as a result:

When a website loses traffic and visibility, it usually means that conversions and revenue are following a similar trend.

This, in itself, can mean a reduction in a company’s revenue and lead to job losses or even company closures. At best, a severe decline in organic traffic will mean that this needs to be supplemented by further investment in PPC or other paid means.

Black hat SEO tactics can cause a website’s performance to decline as a result of manual action or algorithmic filtering, which you can learn more about in the video below:

2. It will not generate long-term results

Even in cases where rankings and organic yield initially increase due to handling techniques, they are rarely sustained.

While it may take some time for Google to determine that a site is engaging in unethical approaches (this could be a manual review or a core algorithm update), once it happens, loss of traffic is inevitable.

Perhaps the only thing worse than struggling to rank a site is seeing rankings and traffic artificially inflated, only to suddenly drop in the near future. Businesses need predictability, and that’s not something black hat tactics can deliver.

3. Often results in a poor user experience

SEO must consider the user experience on a site and work to offer the best content and the best UX. However, black hat tactics do the exact opposite; they optimize for search engines (at least what they think search engines want to see) rather than users. This, in itself, can be problematic.

Trust plays an important role in the success of searches. If primary consideration is given to search engines over users, there is a good chance that the conversion ability of the site will be significantly limited.

9 Black Hat SEO Tactics to Avoid

If you’re just starting out in SEO, it’s often hard to know which tactics you should and shouldn’t use. While many of the basics of SEO are clear white hat strategies, many of the more advanced tactics require more attention to detail.

However, make sure you follow the correct advice. Some tactics recommended on blogs, social media groups, or from your connections may seem like “advanced” strategies, but in reality, they’re just leading you toward more black hat techniques.

The more you know about the tactics that could spell disaster for your site, the easier it will be to spot them and stay away from them.

1. Keyword Stuffing

Over repeating your page’s main target keywords won’t help you rank. Keyword stuffing, as it’s known, will almost certainly do the opposite.

Black hat SEOs will sometimes attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking by unnaturally including a keyword on a page. Keyword stuffing often happens in random blocks that sit outside of the main content or within paragraphs that just don’t make sense when you read them out loud.

2. Automatically generated/duplicated content

Creating great content isn’t easy, but there’s no hiding the fact that it’s still one of Google’s top three ranking factors.

A common black hat technique is to automatically generate content to rank for a large number of keywords without actually going away and creating useful and unique content. An example would be a multitude of location pages created, and the same content is used for each except for the place name change.

Make sure you take the time to create SEO-friendly content to avoid problems caused by duplicate or low-quality pages.

3. Hidden text

Hidden text is text that is the same color as the background that is placed off screen or behind an image, uses CSS on purpose to hide it from users, or even uses zero font size. This is misleading, but is sometimes used to include keywords; many marketers would provide long lists of keywords for which they wanted their content to rank in the SERPs.

But what we’re talking about here is a clear attempt to hide text entirely, and this doesn’t apply to text that’s accordioned, tabbed, or loaded dynamically using JavaScript. For our part, we definitely do not recommend adding hidden text to your pages. Search engine crawlers are much more sophisticated now and understand that you are trying to target keywords.

4. Entrance/Gateway Pages

Creating pages targeting specific search queries with content intended to act only as a funnel to a page is considered a violation of Google’s guidelines. These types of pages are known as entry or doorway pages.

Each piece of content on your site should have a specific purpose, and you shouldn’t create pages in an attempt to rank for keywords that aren’t entirely relevant.

5. Cover-up

Cloaking is a tactic that involves delivering different content or URLs to users and search engines, essentially providing a different experience on each.

This is a clear attempt to rank a page based on content created for search engines while directing users to a different place (or something). This is a deceptive practice, making it a violation of search engine guidelines.

Focus your efforts on designing the best possible experiences for your users, and chances are good that search engines will love your page too.

6. Payment links / handlers

Link schemes are one of the most common types of black hat SEO, and this is the area where a lot of confusion often originates.

It’s common sense to many marketers that you should write content that works for your users and that you shouldn’t hide text, but link building gets a bit more complex.

The bottom line is that links must be earned, especially when you consider them to be editorial votes of trust from one website to another. This means you should avoid tactics like:

  • Paid (sponsored) links that do not contain a rel=”nofollow” or rel=”sponsored” attribute
  • Excessive link exchanges
  • Spam on blog comments
  • Spam of the hole
  • Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns
  • Automated link building
  • Spam directories, bookmarking sites and web 2.0 properties
  • Sidebar or footer links throughout the site
  • Links that use commercial or exact match anchor text

7. Misused Structured Data and Rich Snippets

While structured data can help define online entities, actions, and relationships, a common black hat tactic is to abuse or misuse this type of markup.

Typically, this means using structured data to provide factually incorrect information, for example by those trying to create more favorable structured data for their site. Many marketers write fake reviews that give 5-star ratings to boost the SERP position of their business and enjoy higher CTR.

Like the other tactics on this list, this is pure cheating and not a tactic you should consider.

8. Misleading Redirects

Whether it’s an old page you’re updating to a new URL or preparing for a site migration, the use of redirects is a common part of SEO. There is nothing wrong with this; it is the preferred method of ensuring your site is well organized and easily accessible to users and search engine crawlers.

However, similar to cloaking, black hat SEOs place sneaky redirects to trick search engines into displaying content that is different from what a user sees. Often a search engine will index the original page, while users are directed to a different destination URL. Google’s Webmaster Guidelines specifically list sneaky redirects as a black hat tactic that violates their guidelines.

9. Negative SEO

It would be wrong to assume that all black hat SEO tactics are targeting the site a marketer is trying to rank for.

Some unethical SEOs use negative SEO in an attempt to lower their competitors’ rankings. Think of this as using tactics that violate Google’s guidelines on someone else’s site, instead of your own.

In practice, this commonly means pointing out a large number of unnatural links to someone else’s domain in the hope that they will be penalized for it.

While it is not very common, especially since Google is getting better at ignoring links that originate from such attacks, it is important to be aware of this and regularly analyze your link profile (something that can be done using the backlink audit tool). from SEMrush).

How to Report Black Hat SEO

Therefore, you may have asked yourself the following question while reading this guide:
What if you see one of your competitors using black hat tactics and you are not being penalized?
You can submit a spam report to Google when you believe a website is ranking due to paid links, spam, or other violations. While reporting a site won’t result in direct action being taken, it is improving algorithmic spam detection.

As a marketer, it’s often disheartening to discover that a website is cheating the system and getting away with it. While Google is ultimately getting better and better at keeping such sites from ranking high in the SERPs, there are still sites that do well by taking advantage of black hat tactics.

Depending on the severity of web spam other sites are using, there is a good chance that they will be negatively affected in the not-too-distant future after another algorithm is updated.

The one thing to take away is that black hat SEO tactics pose a real risk to any website that uses them as a way to rank in the SERPs.

And while they are not as commonly used as they used to be, there are still SEOs that go this route or make companies believe that they are trading ethically when, in fact, the techniques being used are clear violations of Google’s guidelines.

In general, we recommend avoiding black hat tactics on your own site. If you want help making your site more visible online, be sure to learn how to rank your website using techniques that don’t violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

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