What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO refers to practices that increase a page’s rank in search engines through means that violate the search engines’ terms of service. While black hat SEO techniques may bring better rankings for your page in the short-run, you run a huge risk of damaging your page’s reputation in the long run. Eventually, Google will identify pages that are using practices that violate their terms of service and penalize them.
The Purpose of Search Engines
In essence, Black Hat SEO seeks to con Google’s (and other search engines’) algorithms. This goes fundamentally against the purpose of search engines such as Google that aim to provide solutions for users by directing them to the most relevant and useful pages for a particular query. By using black hat tactics, an irrelevant or undeserving page might show up in response to a legitimate user query.
The Black Hat Litmus Test
A simple way to find out whether the tactics you are employing are black hat or not is to ask yourself this question: “Is the page that I am creating adding value to the user or is it just for search engines?”
If no value is being added for the user but you expect search engine rankings to improve, then it’s highly likely that your tactics include black hat SEO. This same test can be applied to paid search strategies and tactics, to find out if it’s black hat PPC or not.
Known Black Hat SEO Strategies
Some of the known black hat SEO strategies are:
- Content Automation
- Doorway Pages
- Hidden Text or Links
- Keyword Stuffing
- Reporting a Competitor (or Negative SEO)
- Sneaky Redirects
- Link Schemes
- Guest Posting Networks
- Link Manipulation
- Article Spinning
- Link Farms, Link Wheels or Link Networks
- Rich Snippet Markup Spam
- Automated Queries to Google
- Creating pages, subdomains, or domains with duplicate content
- Pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing, viruses, trojans, and other malware
Short Term Success
Some websites and webmasters have used black hat SEO to reap short-term benefits, but they are as the name suggests: “short term”. The search engine improvements that you experience over the course of a few months will all amount to nothing if your website gets blacklisted by Google and/or other search engines.
Admittedly, white-hat SEO techniques take more time to show results, but those results are for the long-term and will continue to provide benefits for years to come.