Black Hat SEO

Jake Sheridan
Oct 31, 2021
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Ranking on Google’s first page, and ideally within the top 3 positions and the rich snippets, is one of the best things an online business can do for its revenue and profitability.

This is because the top rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs) attract the most organic search traffic. To sell your product or business online, your website needs visitors.

Obtaining these high rankings is the goal of search engine optimization (SEO), but getting these high search engine rankings is not easy.

It takes comprehensive SEO strategies, time, high-quality content marketing, and increasing your domain authority to secure these desired search engine rankings.

As with anything in life, there is the right way and the wrong way to go about this.

In this article, we will look at what are called “black hat SEO” tactics. These are search engine optimization strategies that are undesirable and violate the search engine’s terms of service.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Black hat SEO is a digital marketing term that refers to the unethical practice of manipulating search engine ranking algorithms, most notably for financial gain.

By and large, this occurs in the HTML text of a website, low-quality content, and unethical backlink building. As many businesses choose to outsource backlink building, which is a central part of SEO, knowing the quality of your backlinks and only buying trustworthy links is absolutely essential to avoiding black hat SEO punishments.

The most critical question to continually ask yourself when doing SEO and digital marketing is:

“Is the content I’m creating, and the work I’m doing, adding value to my customers? Or am I only doing these things in the hope that search engines see it?”. 

The goal of search engines is to provide maximum benefit and usability to their customers. As such, anything that doesn’t add benefit to the user but boosts rankings is likely considered undesirable, and thus “black hat”.

In particular, SEO tactics that are definitely regarded as black hat include:

  • Content automation (using software to produce content)
  • Doorway pages
  • Hidden text or links
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Competitor reporting
  • Redirecting sites
  • Link schemes
  • Guest posting networks
  • Link manipulation through purchasing direct links
  • Bot-automated queries to Google
  • Spamming blog comments
  • Creating pages, subdomains, or domains with duplicate content or copied content
  • Websites that contain nefarious malware

Why is Understanding Black Hat SEO Important?

Black hat SEO has become a part of the internet, one that is so prevalent that it can be difficult for marketers to know if they are using the right methods.

What You Need To Know: Black Hat SEO

– Originally started by spammers who would use deceptive techniques to attract visitors

– Black Hat SEO is what happens when you break the rules without knowing it

If you’re unaware of black hat SEO techniques, then you might accidentally use them to boost your website rankings.

This can be disastrous for your site, as domains that are flagged as using black hat SEO techniques are immediately and permanently banned from listing in Google and other search engine rankings – making it very difficult, if not impossible, to attract organic traffic to those sites.

What are some Black Hat SEO examples?

Here are a few examples of black hat SEO in action:

Invisible text

Invisible text is text search engines can see, but users can not. In the past, this has allowed black hat practitioners to target more keywords than the visible content addresses.

It works by classifying text in the site’s HTML code as “hidden-text”, then writing a set of keywords that crawlers examine but users don’t read.

Doorway pages

Creating a doorway page involves taking new keywords in your niche and stuffing them onto a webpage, or doorway page, from which you can then rank for those terms.

This is essentially like playing a shell game with Google’s algorithm, and Google knows it! It’s not hard to see why this technique has been around so long yet still works today — there are always going to be plenty of people willing to take their chances in hopes of ranking for something.

Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing involves over-optimizing a website or web page focusing on achieving a specific keyword in the title of the web page and/or body text to outrank other people’s legitimate sites.

Black Hat SEO vs White Hat SEO

SEO can be done ethically or unethically. The goal of Black Hat SEO is to improve your website’s presence on SERPs so that people will visit it when they’re looking for something on online searches.

Black Hat SEO is the practice of optimizing (or manipulating) web content to raise a site’s ranking in search engine results pages.

White Hat SEO is the practice of optimizing web content to raise a site’s ranking in search engine results pages by following guidelines established by search engines.

By bringing value to your audience, Google rewards your website with higher rankings, which in turn gets you more organic traffic, customers, and sales.

Black hat SEO FAQ

Is black hat SEO illegal?

Technically, no, but some of the techniques are unethical. While there are no official governmental laws regarding black hat SEO practices, if you’re employing SEO tactics that go against google’s webmaster guidelines, then you run the risk of being de-listed or dropped in the rankings.

Does black hat SEO Still Work?

It depends on how it is applied. Using black hat SEO techniques to get to the top of the rankings for very competitive keywords can be difficult now, but you may still find some success with them.

But eventually, Google catches up with sites that use black hat SEO, and the punishment isn’t worth it. The more basic forms of black hat SEO like doorway pages, invisible text, link farms, low-quality content, and keyword stuffing are rapidly detected by Google and other algorithms.

Redirects can sometimes be used, but Google is constantly building its database of sites to pay attention to. Nefarious backlink building is harder to detect but will eventually flag on Google’s database.

What is a black hat SEO technique?

A black hat SEO technique is a way of getting your web pages to rank better in results lists without following search engine guidelines. Private blog networks that interlink is an example of black hat SEO designed specifically for SEO rankings but which doesn’t offer value to users.

Why do people use black hat SEO?

Because it gives them a faster, easier way to get ranked, they may have a minimal amount of good content. So, they need to fill their site quickly with page after page of content that will pass search engine guidelines.

However, while in the past, black hat SEO techniques have been successful in rankings pages, algorithm updates such as the Panda and Penguin constant modifications make it easier for search engines to penalize black hat SEO websites. And as we’ve said, the Google penalty for such sites can be permanent banning.

What are the disadvantages of doing black hat SEO?

Google has said that they will permanently ban sites that use black hat SEO techniques from their index. They’ve also said they’ll prioritize sites that don’t use them – clearly, reason enough to avoid black hat SEO techniques and only grow your website using approved and ethical methods that add genuine value to your user base.

How black hat SEO can kill your business?

Such tactics often harm your business by pushing people away from your site, putting you at a higher risk of having negative results such as the dreaded blacklisting. If you get blacklisted from search engines, you cannot attract organic traffic to your website.

Why are black hat SEO techniques not recommended?

One of the major reasons why people resort to black hat SEO techniques is that they think it is easy and that such tactics are easy to pull off. But it’s not so. These techniques come with numerous risks, which are far too high for any business that wishes to succeed in the world of search engine optimization.

Don’t forget: check out the other definitions (over 200) in our growing SEO glossary.


Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of black hat SEO.

Black hat SEO is any practice of creating content or building backlinks that go against the Google webmaster guidelines and don’t offer genuine value to your target audience.

In the past, digital marketers succeeded in page SEO and boosting their pagerank with black hat techniques, To avoid any black hat SEO, and ensure you only build a sustainable, safe website, reach out to us at Loganix and see how our SEO services can benefit you and your online business.

Take a look at how we consistently increased Spiritleaf’s monthly organic traffic  and exceed their KPIs in this case study.

Written by Jake Sheridan on October 31, 2021

Founder of Sheets for Marketers, I nerd out on automating parts of my work using Google Sheets. At Loganix I build products, and content marketing. There’s nothing like a well deserved drink after a busy day spreadsheeting.