Black hat SEO Explained for Beginners (Updated May 2020)

Black-hat SEO is considered to be the ‘opposite’ of white-hat SEO. Black-hat mentality focuses on finding and exploiting algorithmic loopholes. Black hat SEO is a practice against search engine guidelines, used to get a site ranking higher in search results. These unethical tactics don’t solve for the searcher and often end in a penalty from search engines.

Appearing in search results is vital for business growth, but there’s a right and wrong way of doing search engine optimization. The dark art of black hat SEO is the wrong way. Black hat SEO seeks to game search engine algorithms, rather than solve for the user. Instead of earning the right to rank highly on search engine results pages black hat SEO uses shady tactics to get you there. Sustained use of black hat SEO techniques is likely to damage your presence in search engines rather than improve it.

Many of these loopholes don’t hurt anyone, except your competitors. But some of them are incredibly unethical, such as hacking into websites to inject backlinks.

As a black-hat, you may:

  • Break (or at least ‘bend’) Google’s guidelines;
  • Focus on search engines over users;
  • Attempt to deceive users with things like cloaking and doorway pages;
  • Hack into peoples’ websites.

Black-hat SEO users violate the Google guidelines and try to rank a site higher with manipulative tactics, usually looking to gain quick wins. Black hat SEO is usually frowned upon, and can actually hurt your site rankings if you are not cautious of your link building practices. Google employs a webspam team whose core focus is to ensure that websites using black hat tactics do not rank.

Some of the main qualities of black hat SEO techniques include:

  • Duplicate content, non-relevant content: duplicate content refers to the well-known “copy and paste” content creation practice across domains and means that blocks of copied content from different sources exactly match each other or look very much alike. Search engines prefer unique content which is why content purposely duplicated across different domains is perceived as one of the worst black hat techniques.
  • Purchasing back link placements: buying links for SEO has some undeniable advantages for the buyer. First of all, it is easy. Once a transaction is done, there is no need to bother with the quality of the content. Secondly, the anchor text, a strong Google ranking factor, is also chosen according to customer’s preferences.
  • Keyword stuffing: keyword stuffing involves overusing the same keywords throughout one page in order to maximize its visibility and organic traffic. Content stuffed with keywords doesn’t look natural and because of this, it’s not user-friendly
  • Cloaking links or invisible text: Serving a page of HTML text to search engines while showing a page of images or Flash to users. Inserting text or keywords into a page only when the user-agent requesting the page is a search engine, not a human visitor.
  • Redirecting to another site or page: commonly known as doorway pages, gateway pages, jump pages or bridge pages which are specially optimized for targeted keywords and designed to rank high for particular queries. These landing pages have very little value and are solely used to trick the search engines and transfer a visitor from a chosen result to another, unrelated destination.
  • Blog comment spams: Spam comments are intended to create free backlinks. Links gained in this way are 100% ‘nofollow’ and transfer no SEO juice, which makes this technique a real waste of time. Nonetheless, it is currently one of most popular black hat practices. What is more, it is not always done manually, there are even various tools available to automatically sprinkle spam comments across the Web.

Black-hat content-stealing methods include:

  • Republishing existing posts (without attribution): Although republishing posts with attribution is perfectly fine, taking them from other sites without attribution and re-posting is not;
  • Rewritten/spun content: This might work to a degree for low-competition keywords, but it’s hardly offering any unique value. Chances are your rewritten content won’t read as well as the original and visitors won’t trust it.

Why you shouldn’t consider Black-hat SEO

Black-hat SEO is more expensive than ever before

Google is much smarter than it used to be; blatantly spammy, low-cost tactics—e.g., keyword stuffing—are no longer effective. So as a black-hat, your only option is to turn to more expensive tactics, such as building a PBN. And when you take into account the costs of doing this correctly (i.e., buying many expired domains, dedicated hosting, private whois, etc.), black-hat SEO can get real expensive real quick.

Black-hat SEO is VERY risky 

Nobody wants a Google penalty. But if you go down the black-hat route, there’s a decent chance you’ll get one. It, therefore, seems the obvious (and only) choice to many, ourselves included.

Black-hat SEO requires some level of “technical knowledge”: 

If you go down the black-hat route, you won’t get too far unless you have a profound and detailed understanding of how the web works and how you can exploit that knowledge to your advantage. Most of this knowledge is not shared publicly, which means that many people don’t see black-hat SEO as a viable option.

Instead of Black-hat SEO, consider these easy white hat SEO strategies

Quite simply, white hat SEO refers to the usage of SEO strategies that strictly abide by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and take an ethical approach to earn top-ranking positions. It places a strong focus on optimizing for human audiences and is seen as a long-term approach to earn sustained visibility on the search engines. 

The focus here is on providing users with the best search engine results. I.e., you prioritize the user over anything else.

As a white-hat, you will generally:

  • Play by Google’s rules (they’re pretty clear about these in their guidelines);
  • Optimise for humans not search engines;
  • Create quality content that people actively want to read and share;
  • Create a website that stands out from others in your niche (for the right reasons!)

Some of the main qualities of white hat SEO techniques include:

  • Fresh, relevant content
  • Link building from relevant industry sources
  • Optimized image labels
  • Relevant page titles and tags
  • Natural keyword density

Seven easy to implement white-hat SEO strategies to improve your rankings

  1. Have a Content Marketing Plan That’s Better Than Your Competitors
  2. Mobile is Local – Claim Your Business Listing to Improve Link Building
  3. Prioritize Your Mobile Content
  4. Keyword Research and Optimization
  5. Focus on User Experience (UX)
  6. Use Schema for a Competitive Edge
  7. Build Links With Relevant Companies Within Your Industry

Resources

White hat SEO or Black hat SEO? Which Strategy is Better?

Greyhat SEO Explained for Beginners (Updated May 2020)

White-hat SEO Explained For Beginners (Updated May 2020)

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