Just a quick disclaimer to start this article with. Here we explain some of the more popular black hat SEO techniques. Even though they do work in the short term, we don’t recommend you to use them as part of your SEO strategy. Black hat works to some extent, but once Google or other search engines expose you, you’ll get a permanent ban and will have to start all over again with a fresh domain.
What do we mean by black hat SEO? Essentially, black hat SEO techniques are everything that Google doesn’t want you to do because they find it fraudulent, unfair, or bad for any other reason.
Everything that’s nice, on the other hand, is called white hat SEO. So where’s the border, and how to find out what’s bad and what’s okay?
For instance, you can monitor some of the official blogs by Google where the company’s employees publish different insights, among which you can find some news about certain SEO practices being seen as “not cool,” but apart form that there’s not much you can do to make sure that you’re 100% in tune with what Google wants you to do.
Most of the time you can be doing a black hat thing without even realizing it. As far as Google is concerned everything that works nice for SEO can be put on the black hat list at any given moment.
The black hat game is all about risk management. Black hat isn’t bad. Black hat techniques are equally as ethical (with some exceptions) as all other SEO techniques out there, but the sole fact that Google doesn’t like them forces you to be very careful if you decide to use them. The risk is all on you.
So what are the techniques that are most likely to get you in trouble?
Black Hat SEO Tricks to Use with Caution
- Spamming blog comments. This is the oldest black hat technique in the game. And one of the best if someone knows how to do it well. The thing is that Google doesn’t really penalize anybody for blog comments. They don’t have a legitimate way of checking if a comment is spam or not. The difficult part, however, is to get a spam comment approved in the first place. Most anti-spam plugins for blogs and other websites do a really good job, and delete everything that’s not genuine.
- Buying links. As we all know, link building is among the most effective SEO techniques out there. And the practice of exchanging money for something is the most effective way of getting that something. When it comes to links, however, Google believes that buying them is a bad bad (that’s a double bad) thing (even though they basically sell links themselves as AdWords ads). Of course, once you get a link it’s very hard to determine whether it has been bought or not. However, if you get a link from a site that sells links publicly (even when you got the link in a natural way) you can get in trouble pretty easily.
- Keyword stuffing. This was popular a number of years ago, when the only way for a search engine to rank anything was to take a look at the keywords used on the actual page. Once webmasters found out about this they started to stuff their pages with various keywords and phrases just to trick Google and other search engines. This doesn’t work at all these days.
- Reciprocal link trading. The most popular way of taking part in this is to join a small link trading community, called a circle. As a member of such a circle you must link to other people from within the circle in exchange for them linking to you. The idea is similar to buying links, only here you’re also paying with links.
- Website directory submissions. Online website directories were hot in the early 2000s. There were many services available (some still are), in which you could get thousands of directory submissions in a month’s time. This would usually bump your rankings very quickly only to see them drop almost equally as quickly.
- Article spamming. Article marketing is a valid SEO technique till this day, but only when done right. Right means unique genuine articles submitted to different sites. The black hat modification is to have one article spun hundreds of times and submitted to thousands of article directories, all with the same anchor text and pointing to the same site. Again, just a short term result.
- Auto-blogging. Everybody knows that building free blogs or web 2.0 sites, and then linking them back to your sites works as an SEO practice. The whole challenge, however, is to (1) do all the work required to create the sites, (2) then the content, and then to (3) make sure that the sites stay updated. The black hat way of doing this is to use auto-blogging software. Such software takes an example RSS feed and republishes it automatically. It also includes your links in the content. Essentially, such sites are giant duplicate content factories.
- Hacking sites. This is the only technique on this list that’s actually bad and shouldn’t be done at any point whatsoever. It’s when you hack into other sites and inject them with links pointing back to whatever sites of your choosing. This is most often done by hiring someone to do the dirty work, or by using a piece of software that tries to exploit some of the known backdoors and security holes. This has some serious repercussions, one of which is being permanently banned from Google. But others are much more serious … like for example, a visit from some men in uniforms.
This concludes the list. We encourage you to use this post as a reference file when you’re searching for some SEO services. Always make sure to check whether or not someone intends to sell you on some black hat things while saying that what they’re offering is 100% legitimate.
Finally, we have a quick poll for you: