10 Black Hat SEO Tricks to Stay Away From
As the world of SEO continues to evolve and demand a greater degree of both investment and ingenuity more is required of those who make their livings and fortunes by working the system. While the SEO scene may have been simpler in days of old, the fact is now that it is complex and fraught with danger. Getting a successful result is harder than before and there is more that can trip up a campaign along the way.
For some time now the terms “black hat” and “white hat” have been used in regards to SEO.
What do “black hat” and “white hat” mean?
White hat is a term for above board SEO practices and techniques. It’s something anyone can do without fear of repercussion or penalization should his or her efforts be discovered.
Black hat SEO tricks are the opposite of that, as you might imagine. These techniques are against the rules and often as potent as they are dangerous. They can either be the downfall or cause of success for an SEO job depending on how well they are utilized.
The most unfortunate thing is when black hat techniques are used accidentally out of lack of knowledge and awareness.
We’ll focus on black hat in this article and go over some common techniques used that can easily damage a campaign if found out.
1. Free reviews for free links
This is a common technique that Google is well aware of but can’t always capture. The way this one works is that you can provide a product at no charge to a reviewer. They’ll then review the item as if it was a paid product and toss a link on the page.
You can avoid this happening to you by adding a no follow attribute to any such page link so it doesn’t inadvertently happen.
2. Keyword stuffing
All too easy, particularly if making use of lower quality copy provided at a cheaper price. The art of providing good content with the correct blend and number of keywords doesn’t ever come cheap and the results tend to speak for themselves.
Getting over eager with your keyword density, you’ll be picked up immediately and punished for it.
While the goal posts change for keyword density you can easily tell from proofreading your copy whether certain phrases seem to pop up too much.
3. Over optimizing your page links
This comes hand in hand with the above point of keyword stuffing.
You need to make sure you strike a balance when it comes to your page links. They need to be accurate and reflect the product or topic and can certainly include your chosen keywords. What they don’t need to be is crammed to the brim with keywords only to the point that they are flagged and you get penalized for them.
4. Grasping for rank by using unrelated keywords
This one is a more specific black hat technique but still quite popular in the SEO scene.
Essentially you are creating pages and copy with a focus on keywords that don’t truly relate to the page, be it an article or product.
This technically aids in pushing page rank as you might imagine. You do however run the risk of being caught by Google’s indexing algorithms. These are very sophisticated nowadays and the odds of you getting away with this one are slim. This technique is very much worth avoiding.
5. Hidden text
This is a rather dastardly one in a human sense that is still easily picked up by search engines. It involves basic techniques such as having keyword rich text on a certain area of the page or site that matches the color of the background on which it sits.
This can mean that a human won’t pick it up, but the page will still benefit from some free keyword action.
It rarely works.
As you might imagine, while a human doesn’t quite have Terminator style vision a search bot will have no trouble grabbing that text, seeing it for what it is and flagging it as a black hat technique to be punished.
While it isn’t quite as cool as the boat scene in the Street Fighter movie, cloaking is a widespread SEO tool that aims to provide different content to users than to search bots.
Essentially, the way cloaking works is that you tailor page code so that your users are directed to different content than that which the search bots pick up.
For instance, your code would make the search engine think you are describing an electrical product whereas your users are directed to a cooking recipe page.
Google and Bing are hot on this one and it’s best left alone.
This are long-standing SEO tricks that come in two main varieties. Spinning is when tools are used to auto suggest variations of words or short parts of sentences so that several can be selected. This is done with the whole article, resulting in a staggering number of variations at the press of a button.
You can have either manual spinning, which is done programmatically and can often get quite close to a readable article, or automated spinning where the quality drops rapidly but the sheer amount of articles created is high.
This one rarely works; Google and other search engines can easily define spun content nowadays unless the quality is high. Original work is worth paying for.
8. Comment flooding
Flooding is simply making use of a script or program to send hordes of replies through to various websites of choice with replies to posts and articles. These contain links to your own blog, giving a huge amount of back links with little work.
The downside, as is the trend with Google nowadays, is that this can be easily picked up and isn’t looked upon kindly. It’s far from a reliable technique – avoid it.
9. Web rings
This technique takes a little more investment but is still a common choice for black hat users. You can have legitimate websites for this one and essentially you’ll be creating a list of sites that mutually back link into each other.
It can work with proper websites that have good content but is ultimately a black hat technique.
10. Ad only pages
This one is arguably more “ethical” but is still considered among the rest. Forcing users to a page where only ad content is viewed prior to their expected page is a common way to force some income for a page, often using Ad Sense.
The range of black hat techniques out there is vast. Some are outdated and inefficient, while some are unarguably fresh and effective.
It comes down to you how you want to draw the line in your work and SEO campaigns.
The ethical nature of some of these techniques is also a consideration to be looked at.
A lot of business use black hat SEO tricks reasonably and see consistent results. Just be aware that the riskier the technique, the better an SEO strategy you need to be in order to manage that risk. Know your level and act accordingly.