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Top 20 Black Hat SEO Techniques Hurting Your Website Ranking

If we may ask, do you think Black Hat SEO Techniques are a thing of the past? Well, you should think again! Unfortunately, underhanded and shady practices are still alive and well in SEO. While most webmasters, content SEOs, and website owners don’t intentionally set out to deceive search engines, ignorance is no excuse. That’s why it’s essential to avoid bad SEO tactics.

By all means, using the Black Hat SEO Techniques to get ahead in the search rankings will inevitably bring your web-based business penalized, whether you are meant to be deceptive or not. Fortunately, when backlinks to your website come from other websites with related and valuable content, these inbound links are considered more relevant to your website users.

On the contrary, if inbound links are found on websites with unrelated content, they are considered less relevant. The higher the relevance of inbound links, the greater their quality. For example, if a webmaster has a site blog about how a website design is done and receives a backlink from another website about website design, that would be considered more relevant.

Especially in a search engine’s assessment than, say, a link from a website about sports. Therefore, the more relevant a website is while linking to your website, the better the backlink quality. Remember that search engines like Google and Bing want websites to have a level playing field. At the same time, while looking for natural links built slowly over time.

Understanding What Black Hat SEO Techniques Are In Content Auditing

To enumerate, Black Hat SEO is a practice against the guidelines of a search engine like Google or Bing, used to get a website ranking higher in search results. These unethical tactics don’t solve the actual problem for the searcher and often end in a penalty from search engines. Black hat techniques include keyword stuffing, cloaking, and using private link networks.

There are so many Black Hat SEO Practices, all with the same purpose: to fool search engines into giving a webpage a better ranking than it deserves. Most webmasters use Black Hat SEO Tactics under the assumption, correct or incorrect, that they can fool search engines — their Algorithms have blind spots. These strategies are employed to take advantage of the blind spots.

More so to score a quick win and easy money. People who use black hat techniques don’t want to offer any value to internet users. These individuals may not consider the consequences, don’t care about the results, or think they’re operating in such a way as to avoid the effects. Remember, website businesses that engage in Black Hat SEO may suffer several penalties.

Some of them are as follows:
  • Algorithm Deprioritization: Once Google’s algorithms crawl the website and register the signals other websites send, it can experience a significant drop in rankings, meaning it’s essentially buried in Google’s list of SERPs.
  • Website Black Listing: If a website’s black hat practices are particularly egregious, through the Website Blacklist In SERPs process, Google can remove it altogether from the index.

In either case, Google doesn’t notify websites. Websites that get banned or deprioritized must find out for themselves by searching for their website in Google or through notifications in their Google Search Console. And then make an effort to make a review request for Google to remove your website from its blacklist — you must have tangible proof for consideration.

The Main Notable Difference Between Black Hat SEO Vs. White Hat SEO

White Hat and Black Hat are forms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques that aim at the same thing: promising results for a website in the search engines. Both methods aim to earn a website higher rankings when someone enters a search query or several different queries. Then, if a website has high visibility — i.e., it ranks on page one or somewhere close.

As a result, the target Internet users are likelier to visit the website; therefore, the website should see a higher Return On Investment (ROI), more traffic, and leads conversion. However, there’s a big difference between the two; black hat tactics are employed to game the system, while white hat practices work within the system to achieve the best, sustainable results.

One is the kid who cheats their way through school; the other is the student who strives to improve their knowledge and quality of work to earn the best grades. White hat SEO techniques follow the terms established by significant search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. They contrast with black hat SEO, which relies on deceptive, unethical methods.

While some black hat SEO techniques might improve search engine visibility, they typically only have temporary benefits. Eventually, Google will recognize these harmful practices and penalize the sites that use them. Therefore, following white hat SEO techniques is crucial to rank high in search results. With that in mind, let’s summarize the two SEO practices below.

Black Hat SEO

This is an illegal or unethical practice that an individual or group of individuals employ to improve search engine results for a website or group of websites. Black Hat SEO aims to maximize short-term gains for a website by taking advantage of gaps, limitations, or blind spots in search engine algorithms. This often entails spammy practices that are bad for users.

White Hat SEO

Generally speaking, white hat SEO refers to any practice that improves your search rankings on a search engine results page like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, AOL, etc. While simultaneously maintaining the integrity of your website, the best user experience, and staying within the search engine’s terms of service and the set of webmaster guidelines.

The Most Common Black Hat SEO Tactics That Hurts Website Ranking

For your information, because Google controls over 90% of the search engine market share, black hat SEO tactics are primarily aimed at manipulating Google. Initially, this was a problem for Google until the search engine giant released the Penguin Algorithm update in 2012 to reflect a new way of thinking on Google’s part. If you’re Google, you figure out the best way, right?

Essentially, a new way for you to minimize or even obliterate Black Hat SEO Techniques is to make frequent updates to your algorithm that render black hat tactics ineffective. Penguin considered manipulative tactics and introduced an algorithm to punish websites engaging in them. Most website SEO specialists for a website using black hat tactics noted the changes.

As such, in April 2012, they experienced a sea change when Penguin knocked their web pages out of sight. Suddenly, traffic dropped, and revenue tanked. Since then, Google has made many more updates, some huge, some not-so-huge. It makes updates to try and improve User Experience (UX) while, at the same time, employing human Search Quality Evaluators.

Their primary role is to evaluate pages based on a set of guidelines by Google. These evaluations help inform and train Google’s algorithms. The following section will walk you through some of the most common black hat SEO techniques still used to game the rankings. Be that as it may, our SEO webmasters have broken them down into three basic categories.

  1. The Bad: You may use these strategies unwittingly, thinking they’re above board and won’t hurt your rankings. These are the most insidious, as they usually aren’t done deliberately and can net you an increase in your website rankings — at least temporarily.
  2. The Ugly: These techniques you probably know aren’t quite kosher, but you’re willing to look the other way. You may notice an initial increase in rankings when employing these techniques, but rest assured, you’ll pay the piper eventually.
  3. The Nasty: You know it’s wrong, but you do it anyway. The allure of easy rankings is too much for you, and you can’t seem to stop yourself. Be warned: You will get penalized. Be prepared to receive a manual penalty, at best, or a complete de-indexing of your site, at worst.

Because Black Hat SEO doesn’t optimize UX, each Google update goes against black hat tactics. For example, the Panda algorithm, which saw 28 updates over four years, downgrades web pages in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) with poor content quality and too many ads. Ultimately, the goal is to reward web pages that offer users a quality experience.

Any or all of the following SEO strategies can get you in serious trouble with Google, regardless of how we’ve categorized them. And unfortunately, Google doesn’t consider ignorance an excuse. On that note, please take a few minutes to review this list to know precisely what to avoid as you do your content SEO audit, optimize your posts, and manage your website pages.

1. Spam Blogging 

In most cases, Guest Authoring or Business Blogging can be highly beneficial in building your brand and expanding your reach. However, guest blogging on irrelevant or low-quality websites to gain links is not okay and could get you in big trouble. If you have a blog, it’s possible that, like us, you wake up every morning to at least ten new awkward email pitches.

Specifically from random people, correct? And more specifically, some ask you to offer them a chance to guest post on your blog. If you have a blog and this hasn’t happened yet, your time will come soon. But don’t be fooled. Usually, guest post spammers want a backlink to their website or their client’s website to help increase their rankings.

2. Selling Links

Publishers are always looking for ways to monetize their sites, and perhaps the easiest way to do this is to accept link advertising. Often, a company will ask a publisher if they can buy ad space and then mention they’d love a text link in relevant content. Call it advertising if you want, but when it comes down to it, Google considers it a link scheme and has penalties.

Another common practice is accepting free products in exchange for a link on your site. However, according to Google, “sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link” is considered a link scheme. To avoid this black hat technique, add the rel=”no follow” attribute to the link to avoid passing on any link juice.

3. Buying Links

In case you didn’t get the hint from reading #3 and #4, selling links that pass Pagerank is considered a black hat. The same is true for buying followed links. Novice or non-savvy publishers may not understand the technicalities of link-building.

Such as how to appropriately include links on their website (i.e., using rel=”no follow”), so it’s up to you to tell them. Don’t risk getting penalized by having your paid link pass link juice. It’s not worth the potential consequences over the long term.

4. Populating Backlinks

This includes over-optimizing your website backlinks to increase your chances of high ranking. Internal links are essential for spreading link equity throughout your site. However, over-optimizing these links using keyword-rich anchor text could get you into trouble. Use natural language that will make sense to your readers rather than focusing on rank-based focus terms.

Or rather, putting effort into keywords you want that content to rank for. The same goes for inbound links you control (for instance, those in guest bios or press releases). Use natural anchor text that will entice readers to click through.

5. Misleading Redirects

It’s important to realize that a webmaster may redirect the user to another page if it is outdated or broken. In that case, a misleading redirect sends users to a page where they see content differently than a search engine’s web crawler can read. Similarly, there is also the issue of misappropriate alt image tags. Hardly anyone sees what you write in your alt-image text.

So, it’s ok to stuff your keywords there, right? Wrong! While it probably won’t result in any penalty, it will be highly annoying and frustrating to your visually-impaired visitors and likely won’t do anything for your on-page SEO.

6. Link Exchanges

Google wants to see a natural link profile, and reciprocal links created simultaneously don’t fit this profile. Instead of asking for link exchanges, create high-quality content that naturally attracts links. Google details a variety of link schemes that are against its guidelines. These include using automated programs to build backlinks to a website.

While at the same time, offering someone a free product in exchange for a positive review and a link, and “excessive link exchanges,” in which websites exchange links gratuitously.

7. Generic Directories

All links are not created equal. While paying for a (no-followed) backlink on a high-quality, editorialized directory can be just fine, buying a generic website link directory that’s more about SEO than user experience could get you into trouble. Still, it’s clear to mention that page replacement is also widespread. It involves waiting for a page to get indexed and start ranking.

And then, after that, replace it with a completely different page. This may temporarily get your irrelevant content ranking, but Google will figure it out eventually. The strategy will also send your bounce rates through the roof, reducing the benefits.

8. Irrelevant Keywords 

Content marketing requires a steady stream of written and visual content, and the temptation to find shortcuts can be intense. Some marketers attempt this by simply incorporating unrelated or irrelevant keywords into new or existing content.

They aim to rank for those keywords, but Google has gotten pretty good at identifying the actual topic of a page. More so, through the use of Latent Semantic Indexing, so this means that, in most cases, this strategy is unlikely to work anyway.

9. Manual Spinning

Much has been written about automated article spinning being a form of a black hat. However, manual article spinning happens ALL THE TIME, yet we rarely discuss it. It’s taking existing articles, manually changing the title, and maybe some wording.

It’s also playing around with the format to create a new blog article. The problem is a good chunk of these spun articles will get dinged with a duplicate content penalty. Pay for fresh, original content instead – it will be more expensive, but it’s worth it.

10. Automated Spinning

Google ‘article spinning,’ and you’ll find a whole host of tools that let you automatically spin or paraphrase existing content. This is content created by a bot that is often gibberish, intending to fool search engines. Presumably, the quality of these spun articles is poor (at best), and the resulting content will likely still get you dinged for duplicate content.

While Google doesn’t recommend a specific post length, most search engines favor lengthy content versus shorter posts. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to aim for at least 1,000 words for blog posts.

11. Improper Snippets

Rich Snippets can be a powerful way to attract clicks on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and increase organic traffic. However, including Featured Snippets irrelevant to your website or page can result in a spammy structured markup penalty.

When using rich snippets, make sure you choose one that matches the content of your page. For example, don’t use a review snippet if your page doesn’t have reviews!

12. Keyword Stuffing

This means that websites want to rank for specific keywords. Often, Keyword Stuffing involves creating web pages and content with an excessive volume of keywords to send amplified keyword signals to search engines. This is supposed to make the website rank well for the keywords. Of course, over-optimizing your meta keywords won’t result in any penalties, yes.

But it won’t give you any advantage in rankings. The same goes for your meta description: While Google doesn’t use the content of your meta description as a ranking factor, it does serve as your ad copy in the SERPs. Make sure it accurately describes the content of your page appealingly and enticingly.

13. Keyword Cannibalization

After a few years, the owner might write another article using the same keyword instead of updating the existing one. If both posts have the same keyword, title, and similar content, it can affect the rankings. This is called keyword cannibalization.

In most cases, Keyword Cannibalization occurs when you have too many identical or similar keywords in your content. Suffice it to say, having content spread throughout the content on your website. As a result, search engines can’t discern which content to rank higher. This means that sometimes it will give a higher ranking to the web page you don’t tell to prioritize.

14. Spammy Footers 

Footer Links can be handy for helping your visitors navigate around your website. However, some websites use the footer to include links more about capturing rankings for specific keywords than providing a great user experience. A good rule of thumb is this: If you’re providing a link in your footer because it’s helpful to your visitors, go for it.

If you only include it for ranking purposes, remove it. And in general, avoid any external links in your footers… Don’t link externally in the footer. Just don’t. We are not going to go into the reasons… Just don’t do that.

15. Content Cloaking

Similar to misleading redirects, cloaking involves showing different content to the user than to the search engine bots.  This technique presents one version of a page to the search engines and another to users.

Examples Google gives are showing Flash content to users while showing HTML content to the search engines or serving particular text only to search engines. This is because it’s irrelevant to human visitors.

16. Doorway Linkbaiting

Doorways are pages created to rank for a particular keyword and to funnel visitors to a different page. The problem with this technique is that doorway pages offer little to no valuable content, often resulting in various (useless) pages taking up all the top rankings for a given keyword. Linkbaiting….then switching, is a strategy whereby a website first attracts links.

Specifically to a particular page or article, then switches out the content to something more commercial. For instance, they may write a high-quality blog post that naturally accumulates many links, then add to, edit, or completely revamp the page to sell a product or service.

17. Invisible Content 

Using hidden text on a website is very 2000, but unbelievably, it still happens. The idea is to disguise keywords on a page by matching the text color to the background color or positioning text offscreen using CSS (so it’s visible only to search engines).

Similar to keyword stuffing, hiding keywords is changing the color of a text’s font to make it invisible to human eyes. The invisible keywords are supposed to fool a search engine into giving the website page to which it belongs a good ranking in SERP.

18. Comment Spamming

The Internet, or the World Wide Web (WWW), is a network of hyperlinks. On the one hand, to try and manipulate search engines with links, Black Hat SEO practitioners have been known to insert links to web pages in the comment fields of blog posts.

As well as community forums, believing these links will send positive signals to search engines. On the other hand, hardcore comment spamming involves using special software to leave links in the comments of various blogs.

19. Domain Squatting

Domain Squatting, also known as Cybersquatting, is a strategy that involves buying up domain names to sell them to the person or company who owns the trademark on that name. This strategy may also take the form of typosquatting, which is buying up domains that contain common typos for a popular trademarked term.

The idea is that you can generate many backlinks to your website quickly, potentially increasing your rankings. Luckily, Google is great at identifying and devaluing these types of links.

20. Content Scraping

This technique sounds like scraping content from one site and using it on another. This strategy aims to attract search traffic to the scraped content and then profit through visitors clicking on pay-per-click ads (usually AdSense).

Last but not least, content cross-pollination involves creating a webring to cross-link between websites — a webring is simply a bunch of websites that link to each other. While Webrings aren’t inherently wrong, they become just another link scheme when created to increase search rankings.

The Best White Hat SEO Techniques To Help Optimize Your Website 

In other words, white hat SEO is a set of by-the-book, ethical, technical, and aesthetic practices that an individual or group of individuals employ to improve search engine results for a website or group of websites. White hat SEO describes the bulk of SEO best practices by reputable companies — white hat practices concentrate on improving the quality of a website.

Markedly, white hat SEOs often send the right signals to Google so the search engine can recognize a site’s purpose and authority. As mentioned, while some black hat SEO techniques might improve search engine visibility, they typically only have temporary benefits. Eventually, Google will recognize these harmful practices and penalize the sites that use them.

Therefore, following white hat SEO techniques is crucial to maintaining your position in SERPs, preventing search engines from penalizing your website. If your website gets deranked, it can negatively affect your traffic, reputation, and sales. Also, if it gets blacklisted, that’s a challenging hole to climb out of. You want potential customers to find your website.

If that’s the case, it’s essential to prioritize search engine optimization. However, to prevent your website from being penalized or even banned from search results, it’s necessary to stick to what is known as the best white hat SEO practices.

1. Utilize Webmaster Guidelines

To ensure you’re adhering to white hat SEO tactics and not entering the “grey” area of black hat SEO, we recommend reading Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to gather more information. For one thing, these guidelines detail how Google finds, indexes, and ranks your website. Thus, learning about them can help you better understand which methods can help you.

In particular, to best optimize your website safely and appropriately. In addition, the guidelines also outline the illicit practices that can lead to your website being blacklisted or banned permanently. Google isn’t the only site that publishes these guidelines, either. Check out Bing’s list (which also applies to engines like Yandex and Ecosia) to stay updated.

2. Avoid Thin Content

Of course, Pre-Panda, writing short, “thin” content targeting specific keywords, could get you ranked. But nowadays, not so much! Using keywords is still beneficial and even necessary. However, keyword density should take a backseat to writing excellent content that thoroughly covers a topic or theme. Slim or thin content is on-page content with little or no user value.

This means content that is automatically generated, unhelpful affiliate content, content that has been stolen from other websites, or content on doorway pages. Content that’s just not useful — let yours be as relevant and resourceful as possible. A staple of white hat SEO is focused on high-quality content. Ensure that your articles match search intent and are original.

3. Legitimate Guest Posting

For newcomers, link-building is a powerful white SEO tactic to consider in your content audit strategy. If someone links to our website blog, that’s a backlink. If the backlink comes from a highly reputable website, it helps us rank higher in search results. A legitimate guest post blogger is interested in link building — they want to increase credibility and gain new subscribers.

The way to differentiate between guest post spammers and legitimate guest post bloggers is relevance. For instance, we usually write about technology and marketing, so any guest post offer that is entirely unrelated is outright spam. Remember that when creating your content, the best thing you can do is solve a problem for users. Great guest authors should help you with that.

4. Keyword Planning Tools

Keywords are critical for SEO. However, it’s essential to use keyword research tools and use your target keywords and focus phrases strategically. Keyword tools such as Google Keyword Planner can help with this process. Conducting keyword analysis can help you stay away from overly competitive keywords as well as identify both short-tail keywords and long-tail keywords.

Notably, long-tail keywords tend to be more specific — this specificity can make it easier to match user intent. You can also brainstorm long-tail keywords using Google Suggest or any other related tool. Use your keywords organically on your page. Remember, while adding these phrases in your titles, headers, and metadata can help SEO, it can also hurt if you overdo it.

5. Outsource SEO Solutions

If you or your in-house team cannot do it, you might also consider outsourcing an SEO agency or expert to help you conduct an SEO audit for your website to know where it needs to be worked. This process can help you better understand the effectiveness of your current SEO strategy and give you a baseline. Still, your website’s UX is one of Google’s ranking factors.

Part of providing a positive UX is ensuring you have a speedy website. Not forgetting, slow loading times can increase bounce rates and cause negative impressions of your website and business. Using a tool such as Google PageSpeed Insights, webmasters will help you. As a rule of thumb, if you’re shopping for SEO services, there are some red flags you can look for.

Such red flags include the following:
  • There is no transparency, and they won’t clearly explain what they intend to do for you.
  • They promise thousands of links over a short period with a claim to have a relationship with Google.
  • Sometimes, they may even guarantee you will quickly see a #1 ranking for your website.

For such and many other related reasons, we highly recommend avoiding agencies exhibiting such behaviors. One thing is for sure, the best way to handle and approach your SEO strategy is by consulting professionals such as our Web Tech Experts to get all the support you will need. They will create a free plan for you customized to meet your business needs and goals.

In layman’s language, our white hat SEO specialists consider Google’s quality guidelines, guidelines from other search engines, and the cornerstones of good user experience. In so doing, they optimize your website for both human purposes and search engine algorithm purposes. As a result, you will see gradual growth in ranking, traffic engagement, and sales revenue.

Summing Up;

Believe it or not, gaining inbound links has always been — and remains — an essential part of any practical SEO strategy for web-based businesses. Not to mention the success of a website highly depends on various factors, with link-building being among them. However, link building is a very challenging part of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), no doubt about that.

And while many SEO webmasters and website owners resort to generating spammy links to their website to increase website traffic, this isn’t a practical solution. Focusing on creating a steady stream of high-quality content can be a lot of work, but we believe the long-term White Hat SEO Techniques and traffic benefits make it well worth your while.

Resource Reference: The 12-Step Program To Recover Your Blog From Any Google Penalty

While there are undoubtedly other Black Hat SEO Techniques we didn’t cover in this post, this is a comprehensive list of the most common ones. Remember that while these strategies may increase your traffic in the short term, they’ll likely damage your reputation and rankings over the long run. Perse, there are various accessible ways to generate inbound links.

So, what have you learned about Backlinks and SEO — more so, about Black Hat SEO Techniques? Please share your inputs, opinions, recommendations, suggestions, or even contribution questions for FAQ Answers in our comments section below this blog. You can also Consult Us for more personalized link-building service solutions and support from our team.

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