What is Black Hat SEO and Why it is Dangerous for Businesses?

As a whole, the SEO industry offers a lot of chances for advancement within the current industry. From using keywords to lightly optimize to doing a full SEO deep-dive to fully customize and optimize your content to mesh well with the algorithms of search engines, you have a lot of options, many of which are beneficial and can bring in a lot of organic traffic.

With SEO professionals offering a lot of these services at fair rates, it is now easier than ever to move forward with search engine optimization campaigns. There is a way to enhance your visitors’ experiences and really create something special that is viable for long-term client usage and for meshing with search engine algorithms.

That being said, not all SEO methods are created equal. One, in particular, known as black hat SEO, can be especially difficult and even outright harmful to your business. Let’s learn more about black hat SEO and see why it is something you should try to avoid when search engine optimizing your website and content.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Like the name suggests, black hat SEO is a sort of “trick”, not unlike that of a magician, that some businesses like to pull in order to better rank within Google and other search engine searches. This is all good and well but the issue arises with the way that these businesses go about attempting to rank well.

With black hat SEO, there is no focus on answering the question or solving the problem that a person who searches for the target keywords would be concerned with. Instead, the keywords are force integrated into the content, where they do not necessarily fit or even particularly relate to the content at hand. This means that if the content matches the algorithm well, the content will rank highly without providing any true value to the readers.

When this happens, a company is going against search engine guidelines, which could greatly penalize the business in the end. It can greatly impact your entire ranking on search engines since they do not take kindly to their system being used and abused in such a way.

Black hat SEO had a much higher chance of succeeding in the past before search engine algorithms became more complex and advanced. Now, you will almost certainly get caught if you try to force your way into optimized content, which will likely result in penalties and complications in the long run. As a whole, this unethical method is not worth trying. You are literally going against the main purpose of search engine optimization in content writing, which is offering the best possible solution to a problem or concern in a search engine optimized way to broadcast it as far as you can.

White Hat SEO vs Black Hat SEO:

With white hat SEO and black hat SEO methods, there is no comparison. Not only is the white house search engine optimization method much more ethical, but it also offers a higher quality, much more viable result. The thing with black hat SEO that makes it so unethical is that it does not offer a true answer or solution; instead, it abuses the keyword system and forces integrate the chosen words to draw in viewers from dishonest means.

White hat SEO, however, abides by the terms and conditions set by search engines, assisting you in avoiding being penalized. With white hat SEO, you are creating quality content that will provide beneficial information for those that are searching for those specific keywords. This creates a better user experience and a higher viewer return rate and level of trust, furthering your reach. All in all, white hat SEO offers a much better experience to the readers, keeps you in line with current SEO guidelines, and prevents penalties. There’s simply no reason to use black hat SEO; white hat search engine optimization options are simply worth the extra effort due to their payout and safety.

Black Hat SEO Techniques (And Why You Should Avoid Them?)

With black hat SEO, there are quite a few different common techniques that can all contribute to the same end effect of providing unhelpful information and being flagged and penalized by search engines. Some are definitely more overtly harmful to your business and credibility than others but all should be avoided. Let’s delve a little deeper into the black hat SEO techniques that are commonly used and go over why you should avoid using them, along with tips concerning how to prevent accidentally using them.

Keyword Stuffing

One of the most common forms of black hat SEO, keyword stuffing is used at an alarming rate and can really cause problems with those looking for viable and well-researched information. Keyword stuffing is done when a site stuffs a ton of different irrelevant keywords into a piece of content in order to rank highly without providing any information that actually pertains to the topic at hand or very low-quality content, at best.

Often, multiple different variations of the same keywords will be used, creating an unpleasant experience for users due to the site ranking well in multiple different niches where it should not. On Google’s support page, Google lists keyword stuffing as:

  • Lists of phone numbers without substantial added value
  • Blocks of text listing cities and states a webpage is trying to rank for
  • Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural, for example:

“We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at [email protected]”.

It sounds like a repetitive nightmare. Just the same type of sentence used over and over again with slightly different wordings. It does not benefit the reader, reads incredibly poorly, and is just not good practice. The same happens when you use similar words in a sentence. Something along the lines of, “The clinic had a lot of different medical workers; medical professionals like doctors, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, CNAs….”. There are a lot of similar words that do not add value to the overall sentence and instead just stuff in more and more keywords in spaces that could otherwise offer more information on the actual topic at hand.

Scraped Content

When working in writing content for online websites, you obviously do have to research what you are writing on and make an effort to find information that is backed with studies and other content. That does not, however, mean you should copy and paste content from other sites or scrape together different bits of content from around the web to create a halfway cohesive piece of content to be loaded with keywords.

Scraped content is content that has been pulled together by literally scraping together pieces of information and data from other articles that may not actually go together properly. This is essentially duplicating existing content and creating a semi-new piece loaded with keywords without actually offering anything new. Google is extremely good at catching these types of articles and forcing them to rank lower, so while this may seem like an easy way to boost your ranking, it is not actually doing you favors at all.

Hidden Redirects

Redirects happen when you click a link and are taken to another website that you did not initially click on. There are some valid uses for redirects, including redirecting someone to your new website if you changed your URL or redirecting to a full access page after someone has created an account or logged in. That being said, redirecting from your site to a more authoritative site just for the sole purpose of ranking higher is not okay and can end up getting you knocked down the Google search rankings anyways if you are caught.

Cloaking

Often used by spam websites to skirt search engine bots, cloaking is when a site shows one piece of content to the search engine and another to their actual visitors. Essentially, you are showing a search engine optimized piece to search engines but once the person gets to your site, it may not be the content they are looking for at all. The cloak is lifted and they are not viewing what they had initially signed up for.

That being said, mobile versions of websites and language changes are technically cloaking since it is not what the search engine bots see. Still, these are acceptable while wasting people’s time is definitely not.

Paid Links

Many search engines, including and especially Google, do not allow you to pay for links. This includes any money and free items. You cannot pay another website to link your content and increase your ranking within search engines, as this is unethical and unfair to those who are actually creating quality content within their niches and putting in the necessary work.

If you are reported for trying to buy or sell links, you can be greatly penalized, resulting in your ranking being damaged and other problems that can really tank a website, especially if it is not large enough or established enough to survive such a blow. Due to this, even links you have already bought or sold should be removed as soon as possible. This black hat SEO technique can get you in some serious hot water, even if you did not realize it is an issue.

Spam Comments

Everyone wants to get their name out there. In almost every industry, networking is essential to your chances of success and can help you to make the business connections and ties necessary to actually thrive and survive within the current niche marketplace you are operating under.

There are correct ways to go about it, though. You see, while getting yourself out there entails talking to people and explaining who you are often, you cannot go around linking your website in blog comments or website feedback spaces. This is not ethical and can cause pages to ban or report you, causing more problems in the long run. Try networking with the people behind the blog and ask permission. Don’t spam their comments with your own posts. Not only is it rude, but it is also typically extremely ineffective.

Private Blog Networks

While linking to other sites is normal, sometimes things can be a little suspicious. Private blog networks are a collection of websites used only for link building purposes. They essentially work to inflate the number of times a site is linked, making it rank higher and appear much more authoritative.

This is often created by purchasing sites that have expired domains but retain built up authority on a given topic. From there, they’ll write content close to the same topics as the original site posted before it expired and then link to their own sites, driving up the number of links they receive.

This is very similar to another practice known as link farming. Link farming occurs when a website is formed solely for the purpose of link building. Link farms often post extremely low-quality content with a lot of links and sources included, resulting in the link levels of the sites associated with the original one going up.

Search engines are great at catching sites like these and will quickly drop their ranking and penalize them for going against search engine terms and conditions as a whole and practicing black hat SEO tactics, which are not ethical or accepted.

A Tool to Avoid

While it may seem like the easiest route, black hat SEO is not worth your time. Instead, take a slower pace and work on your actual content and make it as strong as possible. You will experience much better results and have a much more stable website where the readers are satisfied and getting the information they originally clicked on the link in hopes of finding. Save yourself the time, effort, and worry, and just do things right! Your site will be much better off!

Josh McKay
Josh McKay
I write on the foundational concepts of search engine optimization (SEO). Learn the strategy behind great SEO, including keyword planning, content optimization, link building, and SEO for ecommerce, local search, and mobile audiences.
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