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What is black hat SEO?

Appearing in search results is vital for business growth, but there are right and wrong ways of doing search engine optimization. is the wrong way. It seeks to game search engine algorithms, rather than solving a problem for the user. Instead of earning the high rank on search engine results rightfully, black hat SEO uses shady tactics to get you there.

Black hat SEO refers to a set of practices against the search engine’s terms of service that are used to increase a site rank in search engines and can result in the site being banned from the search engine and its affiliates.

The term “black hat” originated from Western movies to differentiate the “bad guys” from the “good guys” with white hats. Nowadays, it is used more commonly to describe computer hackers, virus creators, and those who perform unethical actions in digital environment.

Black hat SEO techniques

As we discussed, using black hat SEO techniques to reach the top rank in Google can result in a penalty. Even if you use them accidentally, bad SEO practices can harm your rankings and decrease the chances of users discovering your website.

A list of tactics and strategies employed by black hat SEO practitioners have been openly denounced on both Google and Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines. Let’s look at the most common black hat SEO techniques that you should avoid.

1. Buying Links

A high-quality, relevant link can drive traffic to your domain while also telling Google’s algorithm that you are a trustworthy source. A good backlink can also help Google map your website so that it has a better idea of what you are all about, making it easier to serve you up as a search result.

Buying a link, however, is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and – according to Google – it does not work.

2. Footer Links

If you have been adding footer links with commercial anchor text at scale to manipulate results, Google will likely be able to identify those and penalize you for it.

3. Hidden Links

You may think that you can hide a link in your website’s text or by having the link appear as the same color as the background, but Google will notice and penalize you for trying to game the system.

Additionally, if you include enough irrelevant links, you will give Google less reason to direct traffic to your target audience since you will be diminishing your relevance.

deceivingly hidden links are a violation of Google’s guidelines. That means:

  • No hiding text behind an image
  • No keeping text off-screen using CSS
  • No using a font size of 0
  • No making one little character, like a period, a link

4. Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is exactly how it sounds – stuffing your content with keywords. We all know the importance of keywords for rankings and traffic. It is thought the more keywords, the better the chance of the content ranking well. According to Google, keyword stuffing is:

  • Listing of phone numbers without any added value
  • Blocks of text listing cities and locations a web page is trying to rank for
  • Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural
Black Hat SEO methods

 5. Blog Comment Spam

You may be familiar with comment spam if you run a blog. Sometimes, users post comments that contain links to their pages. The aim is to build free backlinks from many different sites.

Spam comments on your website can also harm your blog. They make your site look unprofessional, which can damage your reputation. You might want to set up a comment moderation system to filter out spammy content.

6. Overused Anchor Text

It may make sense to match your page’s title every time you share a link to it because the title is what your page is about, and consistency could imply relevancy. But from Google’s view, this is also what it would look like if you were lazily spamming.

Instead, you should make your anchor text brief, relevant to the linked-to page, not stuffed with keywords, and unique.

This makes sense given that this is what anchor text would look like if the link were a natural part of its surroundings. This rule holds for both internal and external links.

5 SEO strategies that will continue to help you win

7. PBNs

PBNs are websites that link to each other. They used to be much more prevalent in the 90s and early 2000s, particularly amongst fan pages for different tv shows, movies, musicians, etc.

They are not necessarily a bad thing, but webrings are considered a link scheme when they are designed to manipulate algorithms.

8. Hidden Content

Like a hidden link, hidden content can be made the same color as the background. It is a tactic that intends to include as many keyword phrases, long-tail keywords, and semantically linked words as possible in a page.

Of course, Google’s algorithm can tell the difference between keywords within the body of a paragraph and keywords hidden in the background.

Beware that your website could get hacked, and the hackers could put up hidden content. This is also known as parasite hosting.

9. Article Spinning

Like duplicated or plagiarized content, article spinning is a technique that includes re-writing content by substituting synonyms, changing sentence structure, or re-writing text entirely while communicating the same information as the source material.

Article spinning can be done either manually or using technology. While automated article spinning has advanced to the point where the articles are readable, Google will still penalize you for spun articles.

Notice that spun articles degrade the quality of the internet.

10. Plagiarized or Duplicated Content

Sometimes known as scrapping, duplicating, or plagiarizing content can violate copyright or trademark laws. Google wants to share high-quality domains; therefore, plagiarism is a factor for penalty.

Black hat SEO techniques

11. Cloaking

Cloaking involves showing one piece of content to users and a different piece of content to search engines. Websites practicing black hat SEO will do this in order to make content rank for a variety of terms irrelevant to their content. Spam websites will often do this to try and avoid a search engine bot finding out the spam content they serve to users.

If Google catches you cloaking, you will get a penalty.

12. Doorway Pages

Doorway pages are a form of cloaking. They are designed to rank for specific keywords but then redirect visitors to other pages.

They are also known as:

  • Bridge pages
  • Portal pages
  • Jump pages
  • Gateway pages
  • Entry pages

13. Keyword Stuffing in Alt Tags

You may think that alt-tags are not harmful opportunity to use as many keywords as possible, but stuffing in this context can also hurt your site’s rankings.

You would also be misusing alt tags and, as a result, doing yourself and your site’s visitors a disfavor. Alt tags are:

  • Read aloud to visually impaired users by screen readers.
  • What gets displayed if an image file cannot be loaded.
  • Helpful to search engines trying to understand images.

This list can be longer. There are other types of black hat SEO techniques that you should know about and avoid using them.

How can we help you?

SEO is vital for your site’s growth and success. However, over-optimizing your content or using unacceptable tactics can lead to notable drop in your rankings. Moreover, search engines such as Google may ban and delist your site entirely because of engaging in black hat SEO.

We at Lyla can help your business to optimize your site. Our SEO experts at Lyla with white hat SEO techniques will go beyond your expectations.

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