In the world of SEO there are two major schools of thought... black hat and white hat. The reason for the different colors is a sort of throwback to cowboys of the Wild West. The bad guys wore the black hats and the good guys wore white. Or you could also relate it to karma, the whole good versus evil concept.
Almost all SEO black hat techniques are considered "bad" because they rely on very deceptive practices that focus on taking advantage of the system, rather than providing a service to an audience. A lot of it tends to be spam and actually reduces the user experience, which ultimately leads to a very bad long-term outlook for the given website.
In case you didn't notice already, I chose the number 13 simply because of the negative association with it! This post is meant to serve as discouragement so you don't become a black hat SEO user, because... well honestly, nobody likes them. Sorry, not sorry.
Just as a side note, this list doesn't include all of the black hat marketing techniques, just the most commonly used. Let's get started!
Ever try reading an article but it's just really hard to read? And it comes off as trying hard? Yeah, that's keyword stuffing. The reason it's done is to fit in and rank for as many keywords as humanly possible within a given post or text. It almost reads like a scientific paper you have no knowledge of. Google's own example below:
See how it just sounds wrong? Yeah, don't do that, Google will punish websites that do it, rather than give them rankings.
I might as well mention this one next, and it's pretty closely related. In fact, they usually go hand in hand!
So what's the difference? Unrelated keywords will be added in haphazardly as a way to rank for extra keywords. For instance, one could mention all kinds of famous actors, musicians, animals, brands, products, hell even colors! By having these extra keywords, the black hat marketer hopes to rank for them and gain extra traffic without having to put in much work.
Once again, Google will smite them for doing this repeatedly.
If you personally own a site, you might have seen this first hand!
The idea behind this is posting comments to tends, or even hundreds of websites that are full of links back to the black hat marketer's site or content. This is to create backlinks to artificially boost their website and get more traffic.
Too bad search engines are much more advanced nowadays and can easily pick these comments and links out, so these are pretty darn useless to do, even if you're looking to make a quick buck. Not sure why anyone would bother with doing these anymore.
This isn't used as often either since it may be ignored even more than spammy comments, but some people still use this "trick."
There are hundreds of article directories online where you can submit your post or whatever to. Then, by having your article posted on a whole bunch of different sites, your article will rank really high on Google and other search engines! Haha, yeah right, not anymore!
Having your same article posted everywhere doesn't add hardly any value to users and so will result in punishment.
Ah yes, more spam! Gotta love it. Alright, now this is entry-level social media black hat marketing. It consists of making a profile, or multiple, and posting links and such to different groups and pages on Facebook in an attempt to get others to link your stuff and visit your site.
Now this isn't really punished (as of yet) by search engines, however Facebook takes it upon itself to slow this down by suspending accounts that are flagged as spam users. This is also known as throwing users into Facebook prison.
This is a technique that can work, to an extent, however it's still not all that effective in the long run.
This is also known as good-old-fashioned plagiarism. Yeah, search engines hate this. How can you expect to provide value to your audience... by stealing other people's content and not getting caught?
Not only do search engines immediately flag this content and drop your rankings, but you could potentially get into trouble with other sites if they see that you copied their content. Duplicating other people's work = big nono.
There are some black hat SEO tools out there known as "article spinners." It's plagiarism but with a twist!
Instead of just taking the article and posting it as their own, this tool takes it and scrambles it up like a big ol' pan of eggs, making it mostly unrecognizable as a piece of plagiarism. But, search engines can detect a lot of these as spun articles, so it's still not a good substitute for creating unique, genuine content from the heart.
This is when somebody purchases a domain name that is extremely similar to a particular brand's with the intent to profit off that brand's name and goodwill. There's even a law against it, the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA).
Of course this doesn't guarantee full protection from it happening, but it shows that this is a serious issue. The main method people profit using this shady trick is selling the domain to the brand owner at a super-inflated price. Don't do that, it's called being a jerk.
Should be pretty obvious, but this is when a black hat marketer pays another site (preferably one that is high quality/an authority site) to provide a backlink to the black hatter's own site.
Search engines look down on this because it's something that abuses user trust since the black hat's site doesn't even need to be quality if it pays for links! And because of this, search engines punish this, although it definitely is a trickier to spot trick.
As an affiliate marketer I do put in different affiliate links from time to time, but there's a limit to how much I use them. I normally only use up to maybe three, but typically stick to just one or less. Some black hat users still think that the more links they have, the more hits and sales they will get!
Wrong! It looks super spammy, and search engines think so too, so don't do it. Be strategic about your affiliate links to avoid dropped rankings.
Cookies aren't normally too big of a deal, especially since most sites utilize them. The issue comes when black hat marketers post fake links on their content, in forums, and other places in order to place cookies on people's computers.
This is like affiliate links, but instead is really underhanded doesn't help the user experience at all.
Cloaking is possibly one of the biggest SEO black hat techniques. It's all about fooling search engines into thinking that a website has quality content by feeding the bots and spiders fake information. This then displays good content and a user clicks on the link, but then finds the website to actually be very low quality and irrelevant. The graphic below might help make sense of it:
This is a trick that utilizes a lot of the previous black hat techniques. Within a post or page a black hatter will put in some text that blends into the background and/or is super small and not even noticeable.
Why? Keywords and backlinks, of course! But, like everything else, there is a chance of getting caught trying to cheat the system. White hat SEO is the best option for long-term rankings, and there's actually a training platform that teaches how to do all of it! Click here to checkout my review of it.
Some of these techniques can be used in a positive light via white hat techniques, but that's a blog for another day!
I hope you enjoyed this post and learned a thing or two about black hat SEO. It sounds enticing, but take heed because big brother Google is watching. ;)
Questions? Comments? Drop them below and I will get to them as soon as I can! See ya next time!