What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO is a shady practice that is used to increase the site’s ranking, traffic by violating or manipulating search engines guidelines. A few marketers use some sort of techniques or tricks that bypass best SEO practices and ignore search intent.
Black hat SEO practices may sound fancy to you but never practice it. Otherwise, you will end up paying heavy costs as Google may downgrade your site’s quality, and ranking or permanently ban it.
Sophisticated algorithm updates like Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird, now it is nearly impossible to cheat Google and manipulate its guidelines. You can not name a single website that uses black hat SEO and successfully retains a higher ranking on SERPs.
- What is Black Hat SEO?
- How Black Hat SEO Hurts Site’s Ranking?
- The Complete List of Black Hat SEO Techniques and Practices
- Black Hat SEO Techniques from the Content Front
- Black Hat SEO Related to On-Page SEO
- Black Hat SEO Related to Link Building
- Black Hat SEO Related to the Website and SERP
- Why Should We Avoid Black Hat SEO Practice?
- FAQs on Black Hat SEO
How Black Hat SEO Hurts Site’s Ranking?
If you are practicing black hat SEO to get a higher ranking, forget about ranking, Google bots can make your site disappear from search results, as it bluntly violates Google guidelines.
Like in any platform, there are always loopholes and these shady practices only exploit these loopholes. So, if you are doing the same, be ready to be penalized by Google either partly or completely.
If you are an expert in black hat SEO and somehow you become successful bluffing search engines, then there is a small chance you can get short-term results. But, in a few months, Google bots will identify your practices and a heavy penalty will be imposed from demoting page ranking, deindexing, disappearing pages on search engines, to a permanent ban.
By implementing black hat SEO on your website, you are not only upsetting search engines but also frustrating your audience by giving them a poor user experience. You lose whole credibility and E-A-T from search engines and users both.
The Complete List of Black Hat SEO Techniques and Practices
Here is the list of black hat SEO techniques that you MUST avoid implementing on your website.
Black Hat SEO Techniques from the Content Front
1. Publishing Low Quality Content
Search engines always prefer 1 in-depth high-quality content over 100 low-quality content. Since creating high-quality unique content is not an easy task, marketers start creating a bunch of low-quality or thin content. They trick Google and try to overrank high-quality content with these thin contents. But ultimately, search engines also work for users and when searchers start disliking these thin articles, Google recognizes your cheap efforts and pushes your pages down on SERPs. In fact, Google has created a highly sophisticated algorithm, Panda, just to tackle low-quality pages.
2. Content Duplication
Duplicate content is a black hat SEO technique of publishing the same content on multiple pages of a website by changing the titles and URLs to attract Google and other search engines. If you are practicing such a gray or black hat SEO technique, none of your pages with the same content will rank.
3. Publishing Copied or Plagiarized Content
When you copy content from another website and post it on your website URL to attract search engines called copied or plagiarized content. Content can be fully or partially copied. Sometimes you write some and copy the rest of the content from various websites and sometimes you copy the whole content from various sources. Both the practices violate search engine guidelines and come under black hat SEO.
4. Involved in Content Scraping/Web Scraping or Data Scraping
Content scraping, also known as web scraping or data scraping, not only violates search engines guidelines but is also an illegal, immoral, and illicit activity.
In content scraping, you simply steal the original content from a legitimate website and post the stolen content to your site without the consent of the content’s owner. Some smart cheaters also use bots that can download all the original content in a few seconds.
5. Article Spinning or Generating Content Through AI Content Automation
Article spinning is the next step of data scraping. Here you bluff search engine bots by spinning the original stolen content to prove, “I have created this content by myself. It is not scrapped or copied.”
Again there are many free and paid AI-based bots that can spin original content in a single click and make the stolen or copied content 100% unique and plagiarism free.
6. Malicious Content or Building up Pages with Malicious Behavior
Apart from it, Google can permanently ban your website from the web.
7. Using Cloaking like Doorway Pages
Cloaking is the limit of doing fraud and it bluntly violates search engine guidelines. In cloaking, marketers create 2 pieces of content, one is for search engine bots to crawl and rank that content and the second is for users. By doing this, they try to fool both the search engines and the users.
Doorway pages are classic examples of clocking. First, they design pages like entry pages, Bridge pages, Gateway pages, Portal pages to rank for particular keywords, and then they redirect visitors to another page. It is the dirtiest black hat SEO trick.
So if you are involved in any form of cloaking, then you are putting the whole website at huge risk. Any time Google can de-index or permanently ban your website from search engines.
8. Clickbait – Fabricating Deceptive Headlines Will Decrease Your CTR
When you fabricate headlines to increase click-through rate then it is called clickbait. You must have come across headlines like “It’s shocking, You Wouldn’t Believe It”, “Oh My God, You need to Check This”, ”It’s Crazy, What Will Happen NOW” etc. And when users click on these headlines, they find nothing exclamatory. Then you are simply cheating your audience with deceptive headlines just to get more clicks.
9. Web Page Hiding or Creating Invisible Pages
Hidden pages are those that are not accessible via a menu or navigation. These pages are searchable but hidden as there is no button in the main menu.
A visitor may be able to view hidden pages through anchor text or inbound links. These hidden contents appear in the source code but are invisible to the visitor.
So many black hat marketers do it consciously and fill hidden content with relevant keywords in an attempt to manipulate search results. Hence this trick comes under black hat SEO.
So if you want to create any web page for the “premium members-only section” of your website, then lock that content rather than hide them.
Black Hat SEO Related to On-Page SEO
10. Over-Optimization with Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is one of the most practiced best black hat SEO techniques among bloggers and digital marketers. And there was a time when keyword stuffing used to be a very successful method. People used to create thin content and then overoptimism the content with the main keyword they ranked. But after the Panda algorithm update, this technique is no longer effective. Panda takes no time to penalize the pages that over-optimized their web pages to trick Google.
11. Embedding Irrelevant Keywords
Never ever use irrelevant keywords just to get traffic. It will not only badly hurt your CTR but a heavy penalty will be imposed by search engines. These penalties will not only hit keywords running on SERPs but also badly damage the website’s E-A-T.
12. Description Over Optimization
A description is super important and helps a lot in ranking. But it doesn’t mean you start over-optimizing your description using keyword stuffing. If you do so, it will do more harm than good. Overpromising description or alt description may offend search engine bots that can lead to penalties.
13. Creating Too Much Rich Anchor Text or Irrelevant Anchor Text
There was a time when exact match anchor text was the best on-page SEO practice and helped bloggers and online publishers in quick ranking. But again, if you are creating many rich anchor text or internal links then such practice comes under the black hat SEO technique and you must avoid that. On the contrary, if you are creating irrelevant anchor text just to fulfill the on-page SEO quota then it is a PURE BLACK HAT SEO practice. Now, sophisticated search engine algorithms like Penguin can easily detect any internal or external spammy links and impose penalties.
14. Using multiple H-1 Heading
Search engines like Google strongly recommend using one H-1 heading only. But people willingly or unwillingly start using more than one H-1 heading that confuses search engine spiders. And remember this, when you try to confuse search engine spiders, it simply demotes or de-index web pages from search engines.
15. Over Optimisation Subheadings
Optimizing content or subheading means you are making search engines spiders aware and letting them know what your page is all about. And search engines bots always like it and rank your page better.
But, some tricky marketers start over-optimizing subheadings with their focus keywords which irritate search engine bots and they start disliking your page and push web pages’ ranking at the bottom of SERPs.
16. Creating Gambling or Other Sponsored and Commercial Pages
Another popular black hat practice in the SEO world. Just to get a few dollars, bloggers and digital publishers start posting gambling or sponsored content. These practices always dent your site’s credibility and eat your reputation among users. So, avoid doing it if you want to sustain it for the long run.
Black Hat SEO Related to Link Building
17. Involved in Buying and Selling Backlinks or Doing Link Exchange
If you are involved in bulk buying and selling links just to increase domain authority, then it is an act of black hat SEO. Even an excessive link exchange falls user’s black hat SEO practice. In all the above cases, you are actually doing a link scam not building the site’s authority.
18. Commercial Anchor Text Keywords – Using Less or Not at All Non-Branded Keywords
Search engines like Google want to know whether your site has credibility on the web or not. And for that search engine bots look for branded keywords on your website. But if you are using only commercial keywords or less non-branded keywords that means your website has less or no value to offer your readers. And Google would not allow such websites to rank on the first page.
19. Misleading Redirects
Using misleading redirects simply means you are lying to search engines. In other words, you are simply doing fraudery. So, it can not be a white hat SEO technique. Generally, marketers use false 301 redirect which misleads users and the search engines both. In most cases, marketers redirect high-quality pages to low-quality pages. This black hat SEO practice is implemented to boost the ranking of low-quality pages.
20. Link Bait and Switch
Linkbait is the process of creating content only to get as many backlinks as possible. And it is a good thing in SEO. You create content so worthy that it starts getting popularity and people start sharing and linking it on their blogs.
But after getting huge success from that page, tricky marketers switch that page with the commercial page. This is where you cheat search engines and users. And hence linkbait and switch is a black hat SEO trick.
21. Creating Gambling or Commercial Link on Internal Pages
If you are linking your internal pages with adult websites, gambling or discos, or any other such type of commercial links just to get a few dollars then trust me you are self-destroying the website that you created with so many years of hard work and money.
22. Unstructured Data and Abusive Rich Snippet
Structured data are organized pieces of information in the form of code snippets that help search engine bots to understand the whole about your website. It clarifies the intent and lets search engines know what the web site’s content is about.
Rich snippets are organic search results with additional data displayed alongside the URL, title, and description.
But when black hat SEO experts manipulate structured data and use abusive rich snippets then search engines start displaying false information in search results. Once Google spiders detect such spam, they either partly hit your website with a heavy penalty or permanently ban you from the web.
23. Using Link Farms, Link Wheels/ Link Pyramid or PBN
When you try to manipulate your link profile to get a higher ranking and authority on the web by inorganically building links using link farms, lion wheels, link pyramid, or NBN then it is a pure black hat SEO practice. In all three cases, marketers either use or pay to these platforms to manipulate their link profiles.
Note.1- What is a Link farm?
It is a group of websites that all hyperlink to other sites in the group.
2. What is link wheel or Link Pyramid?
It is a circular approach to create links between high PR websites (web 2.0 sites) of various types that also link to your website.
3. What is PBN?
PBN stands for Private Blog Networks that are used to build links and therefore pass authority to a single website.
24. Guest Post Spam
Even today, guest posts are one of the most effective ways of getting powerful backlinks from very high DA websites (90+). But some marketers do unrelated guest posting only to generate links.
Suppose you have a travel blog, but you are doing guest posts on marketing or technical blogging websites. So, think of yourself, does it make any sense? You are doing unrelated and irreverent guest posting just to get backlinks.
25. Bulk Submission on Social Bookmarking, Blog Commenting, Directory Sites
Before 2012, there was a time when bulk posting on social bookmarking sites, blog commenting sites, and directory submission sites was the best, easiest and quickest way to increase a site’s domain authority.
But after the rollout of the highly sophisticated Penguin algorithm update in 2012, all of this became massively worthless. Now, if you dare to create bulk backlinks from these sites, then Google considers these tactics as BLACK HAT SEO.
26. Creating Web Rings
As the name suggests, when you connect multiple sites to each other in a circular network to get higher ranking and traffic from related websites then it is known as webring creation. Since you are manipulating search engine guidelines hence it comes under black hat SEO techniques.
27. Buying Reviews with Links by Offering Free Products or Services
Even nowadays it is widely used SEO techniques to get a wide presence and high authority backlinks. Here you as a brand offer free products in exchange for reviews and links to other online publishers.
If you are doing it right and in an ethical way, it works well and search engines have no issue with that. But when your product reviews were done on unrelated or irrelevant websites, then your website comes under Google’s radar and if it finds anything fishy, then the search engine imposes a penalty.
28. Spammy Links in Footer of the Website
If you are creating junky or scammy footer links only to get ranking then stop doing it. Spammy footer links are pure black hat SEO practice. Because the links are natural and do not show any connection between your website and the sites you are linking with.
29. Negative SEO
When you falsely report your competitors’ websites to search engines just to hit their rankings then it is called negative SEO. It is an absolutely despicable act and purely black hat practice. Never do that. Otherwise, consequences can be lethal.
Note: In case you truly want to report negative SEO, You may file a webspam report through Google Webmaster Tools.
In case your website is the victim of a targeted negative SEO campaign of spammy links, try to contact webmasters who are pointing these links to your website to have them removed and then use the Disavow Links Tool in Google Webmaster Tools.
Black Hat SEO Related to the Website and SERP
30. Parasite Hosting or Parasitic Hosting
When you post your content on free blogs, forums, or Wikipedia just because they have a highly respected domain with a high page rank on Google. Black hat SEO experts illegally create a web page on these domains where they inject many keywords and links that point to the commercial page.
31. Automated Google Queries
When you use Automated Google Queries to influence your webpages ranking on the SERP then Google considers it as a black hat SEO.
32. Mirror Sites – Designing Mirror Sites to Increase Your Rankings
Designing mirror sites to increase ranking on SERP is a completely black hat SEO technique. Here, you create a website or set of files on a server that is copied to another server so that the website or files become available from more than one place. A mirror site has its own URL, but the rest of the things are identical to the original site.
33. Private Blog Networks
Another popular but now dead black hat SEO technique is creating PBN to generate link juice. Now, if you are creating Private Blog Networks to transfer link juice then it’s a MASSIVE WORTHLESS. If doing this, you are not only wasting your time, but also inviting search engines to impose heavy penalties on your website. Hence do not jeopardize your website’s future.
34. Website Hacking
If your website gets hacked or has been attacked through a malicious virus and your site starts ranking and producing spammy web results, then it is also a black hat SEO.
Note: How to Report Website Hacking and Save from Penalty?
First remove the malicious code, virus, or hack and then request for a malware review.
35. Involved in URL Hijacking or Typosquatting
URL Hijacking or Typosquatting is not only a black hat SEO technique but also a cybercrime. Here you buy a domain name similar to a well-reputed branded name by using typographical error. This error counts negligible misspelling or abuse of the Country Code Top-Level Domain.
In this case, black hat marketing experts try to make a profit from the trademark name and brand’s fame.
Some famous examples are;
Abidas comes from Adidas; NKIE Typosquatting from NIKE. List is very long.
36. Creating Backlinks on Toxic Sites
To increase the domain authority of a site, if you are creating links on toxic sites then you will lose your site’s authority and ranking on SERP. Links on toxic sites hurt the overall backlink profile of your website.
37. Cookie Stuffing
When you embed images, toolbars, pop-ups, or scripts for any brand to generate sales in order to get a commission is known as Cookie stuffing. Stuffing Cookie is a type of affiliate marketing technique. It is not only black hat SEO but also an illegal practice.
Why Should We Avoid Black Hat SEO Practice?
There are many reasons to avoid black hat SEO practice.
- As I said many times in this blog, practicing black hat SEO can get your website banned from all the search engines including Google as black hat SEO completely violates search engine guidelines.
- The result from black hat SEO technique is only for a very short term, but your site will face huge losses in the long run.
- Google and other search engines consistently introduce highly sophisticated algorithms like Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird which are making black hat SEO almost irrelevant and massively worthless.
- With black hat SEO, you not only upset search engines but also give poor user experience. And you must know that bad user experience hurts website ranking very badly.
- Black hat SEO practice not only badly affects your site’s E-A-T and credibility, but also you end up wasting huge money, time and other resources.
- Lasly, Before practicing balck hat SEO techniques and methods, ask yourself, can you really afford to index your web pages, or get permanently banned from search engines? If your answer is NO, then you should only practice white hat SEO and say BIG NO TO BLACK HAT SEO.
FAQs on Black Hat SEO
Q.1 What is an example of black hat SEO?
Answer: All the 37 above-mentioned lists such as keyword stuffing, URL Hijacking, cloaking, doorway pages, article Spinning, spammy link building are examples of black hat SEO.
Q.2 Is black hat SEO illegal?
Answer: Not all black hat SEO techniques are illegal. But yes, most of the black hat SEO methods are completely wrong and illegal SEO practices. And hence it is always recommended that you should never practice black hat SEO.
Q.3 Why is it called black hat SEO?
Answer: Since black hat SEO violates search engines guidelines and terms of services, hence it is termed black hat SEO.
Q.4 What is black hat SEO, white hat SEO, and gray hat SEO?
Answer: When you manipulate, violate, and trick search engine bots to get higher ranking and traffic which results in poor user experience then it is called black hat SEO. Unlike black hat, when you respect search engine guidelines and terms and put in a lot of effort to give users a better experience called white hat SEO.
And when you combine both white hat SEO and black hat SEO and try to play safe with the aspiration of getting quick ranking and traffic called gray hat SEO.