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What is black hat SEO?

Many experts describe black hat status to describe unethical intentions to cause harm online. Specific examples being computer hackers up to mischief or thievery.

That’s not black hat SEO.

In SEO, there are rules to follow if you want to rank in Google. At our SEO Agency, we call those rules best practices. Violate them, and your website WILL NOT RANK in Google search results.

Defying them is BAD SEO, but isn’t black hat either.

For instance, if you’re not currently earning backlinks to your website, it won’t rank on Google, but it too would not be considered black hat SEO.

What is black hat SEO then?

It’s anything you do to trick Google into believing your website is something that it isn’t in the hopes it gives you something that you do not deserve.

What is Black Hat SEO? Watch this video for even more information:

Black hat SEO is cheating and will get your websites banned in the search engines.

Google will sandbox your website permanently so that it doesn’t show up in the search results if it suspects your site uses these tactics to rank.

The search engine wants users to enjoy their search experiences and get the information for which they are searching. Google does not want to display results that include spam or low-quality sites.

The whole black hat and white hat references come from old westerns where the good guys would wear white hats, and the bad guys would wear black hats.

It is Very Hard to Fool Google in 2020

Google has openly denounced black hat SEO practices in their webmaster guidelines.

When finding a site that violates their best practices, they levy manual actions and algorithms to detect and penalize that website.

As a whole, SEOs often experiment with strategies to see if they work to improve website rankings. Often some of the tactics used are questionable as to whether they are white hat SEO or black hat SEO.

In these situations, ask yourself if you are adding value for the use with quality content, and are the links pointing to the content valid and useful.

If your intention as an SEO is to create content that adds no value to the visitor, and only to increase rankings, then chances are your work is black hat.

Examples of Black Hat SEO Strategies

The strategies listed below are all black hat strategies designed to fool Google into believing a website is more popular than reality would dictate. Never work with a vendor or agency who suggests using them as the tactics will PULVERIZE your website rankings.

Doorway Pages

Black hat artists create doorway pages to manipulate search engine indexing. These pages redirect visitors unknowingly to other pages on the site.

Blog Comment Spam

Blog comment spam involves creating hundreds or even thousands of meaningless blog comments to increase your backlinks to get more rankings. It is a useless and outdated tactic that involves using software that automates the process.

Just imagine having thousands of useless low-quality backlinks, all saying the very same things in meaningless sentences that link back to your website. Google will notice this fast, especially if you are using their webmaster tools. Your website will probably get penalized.

It’s best to get many different kinds of backlinks to your website, and if you are going to use blog comments, do them manually with related sites and topics, and engage by writing meaningful comments that add value to the other readers.

Sneaky Redirects

Sneaky redirects send visitors to different pages that the initial one they clicked on. The redirected site can have malware or spam.

Private Blog Networks

Private blog networks are networks of blogs that allow you to pay to add content with a link back to your site. They can be high- or low-quality websites. The fact that you are paying for these links to increase your rankings in search artificially is what is against Google’s terms of service.


Cloaking is a tactic where there is different content presented to the user than is given to the search engine spider.

Hidden Text or Links

Hidden text or links is where text like excessive keywords or links get hidden from the user experience. It is meant for the search engine spiders to rank the site.

Misdirected Structured Data and Snippets

Structured data, schema, or rich snippets are all pretty much the same thing. They allow you to change the look of how your content is displayed and presented in the search engine results. You may notice snippets or structured data because they are usually the listings with the gold stars or the ones listed at the top of Google that answer questions.

Black hat SEO would involve adding all kinds of wrong information to the structured data or schema markup to trick users and the search engines. An example of this would be to add fake reviews to get a sale, or to get content to stand out in search. It’s deceiving and will get your site banned if Google catches on to it.

It’s essential to be aware of users reporting your site as well. Google encourages people to report spam and abuses with structured data.

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is spam, and it is when an SEO adds way too many keywords to a page. The content is generally considered to be low quality and does not elevate the user experience.

These unethical tactics are just some of the examples of what not to do when optimizing your pages. It is best to avoid black hat SEO practices altogether and build a site with the best intentions of helping to make the user experience better. Not only is black hat SEO against the rules, but it may also get your website banned.

It’s Easier to Do the Right Thing

The best strategy is to avoid black hat SEO tactics altogether, especially if you have clients. You want to help them rank fast, yet you know that search engine optimization is a long-term strategy that grows with the site and content.

Here are some tips on avoiding black hat SEO practices:

  1. When building a site or creating content, consider the user and the search engines to be the same.
  2. Never engage in doorway pages or cloaking. There are real and genuine ways to get readers to read your content.
  3. Focus your efforts on helping the user and solving their problem, which WILL create a better user experience. Users will start to spend more time on your site if your content helps them, and the search engines will recognize your site’s value for these topics and automatically begin to rank your website. Commit to creating only good quality content with positive intent.
  4. Use your keywords naturally throughout the page and add semantic keywords to get the meaning across. Don’t overdo it and be sure to go back and read your content to ensure that you see the value in it before hitting that publish button.
  5. Avoid scraping content or duplicating content across your site.
  6. Follow the rules of creating and adding structured data to your website. Add only the required information and do not include information that might be misleading or just plain wrong.
  7. Build backlinks with the intent of adding value, or try guest posting with other related websites. Create useful and engaging content with a link back to your site.
  8. Avoid setting up private blog networks to gain links. Instead, create a high-quality site and craft content that makes people want to link to your content naturally.
  9. Another great way to stay informed of the latest SEO updates is to follow industry blogs with authority, and check Google webmaster guidelines for updates.