If you’re searching for the answer to the question, “what is black hat SEO?”, then this post is for you.
Below, we’ll go over every aspect of black hat marketing so you can get a clear understanding of this SEO practice.
The goal here is to not only give you the meaning of black hat SEO but to also help you walk away with advanced knowledge of black hat SEO techniques so you know how to spot black hat SEO examples when you see them.
We’ll also talk about the top black hat SEO tools being used today to perform each of the various tactics in this dark art of SEO.
What Is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO is a set of SEO techniques used to increase a site’s rankings on the search engine results pages that violate the search engine guidelines. Black Hat SEO is also referred to as spamdexing because it uses spam methods to manipulate the algorithm.
Now that you know the basic meaning of black hat SEO, let’s look at a few quick examples of black hat SEO before moving on to the individual techniques.
Black Hat SEO Examples
Black hat SEO examples include the use of invisible text, doorway pages, keyword stuffing, page swapping, cloaking, blog comment spam, content automation, sneaky redirects, link schemes, duplicate content, and article spinning.
What Are Black Hat SEO Techniques?
Invisible text is a black hat SEO technique that hides keywords from the visitor but is still visible to the search engine to crawl and index.
Types of invisible text include keywords that are the same color as the background and text with a small font size that’s too tiny to read.
Using invisible text is also a grey hat SEO method. Visit my page on what is grey hat SEO to learn more about this search engine optimization strategy.
Doorway pages are a black hat SEO tactic that fills a web page with keyword variations and incoherent content as a way to rank high for particular search queries.
This is a common black hat marketing strategy used to trick the search engines and confuse visitors for manipulation purposes.
Page swapping in a black hat SEO example that’s similar to a doorway page.
A common example of this black hat SEO technique is submitting a text-only version of a web page to the search engines for indexing. Once the desired position is achieved in the search results for a target keyword, the page is then swapped out for a content-rich page designed for human visitors.
This is a short-term black hat SEO tactic because the search engine spiders will eventually return to the page and find that the content has changed. And the rankings will be readjusted in the index.
Keyword stuffing is a black hat SEO practice that stuffs a web page with the same terms or phrases over and over again in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in the search results.
These keywords can appear in any part of the page, including the content, in separate lists, the sidebar, footer, and more.
Google gives this example of keyword stuffing:
“We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at email@example.com.“
Cloaking is a black hat SEO strategy that presents one set of content or URLs to human users and another set to search engines.
Cloaking is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines because it’s a deceptive tactic that tricks search engines to get the desired rankings for target keywords while giving users different results than they expect.
Blog Comment Spam
Blog comment spam is a common black hat SEO example of spamdexing where a person posts links as comments on blogs to increase the number of inbound links to a target site.
What makes a blog comment considered spam is that the comment provides no value to the reader or host blogger. It’s often jibberish text or has nothing to do with the blog post itself.
The sole purpose of blog comment spam is to get free backlinks to the target site.
Content automation is a black hat marketing technique that uses software to automate the manual processes in content creation.
Content automation works primarily in two ways.
The first is by scraping content from multiple websites and combining it into one page. The content may also be rewritten (or spun) so it seems like it is unique.
The second is with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to automatically write content for you. An AI content creation tool uses natural language generation (NLG) to write marketing copy and narratives without any human involvement.
Link schemes are black hat SEO tactics that manipulate the PageRank for a web page.
PageRank is Google’s proprietary algorithm that counts the number and quality of links to a page to determine how important and trustworthy the content is. The assumption is that higher-quality web pages are will receive more links from other websites than lower-quality pages.
Black hat SEO link schemes include methods that inflate the PageRank for a web page, including:
- Excessive link exchanges.
- Buying or selling links with the purpose of passing PageRank value.
- Large scale guest posting with keyword-rich anchor text links.
- Links with optimized anchor text in articles that are distributed throughout the web (e.g. press releases).
- Creating your own private network of websites (PBN) that include keyword-rich anchor text links to increase your site’s PageRank. See what is PBN links for more details.
- Posting articles with optimized anchor text in low-quality directories or bookmarking sites.
- Widely distributing website templates that include links in the footer or sidebar to the same target site.
- Posting forum comments with optimized links in the signature or posts.
- Using text advertisements that pass PageRank value.
- Using automated software to create links to a site.
Duplicate content is a black hat SEO technique of copying and pasting large blocks of content across the same website or various domains.
There are three purposes for using duplicate content as a black hat SEO strategy:
First, having several pages on a site with the same information but different keywords inserted in specific spots is a way to target multiple queries without writing new content.
A common example of this tactic is a creating set of pages that target local SEO keywords. Each page would have identical information except for the reference of the city name is unique.
Second, duplicate content can be used to try and outrank the original source of the content so the target site can steal the traffic.
Third, duplicate content can be used to flood the search engine with multiple copies of the same text in hopes that one of them will stick and rank high for the target keywords.
Article spinning is a black hat SEO example of avoiding plagiarism.
Article spinning involves software that takes a piece of text and rephrases the content on a word-by-word or sentence-by-sentence level. After the text has been spun, it’s now considered to be unique and passes duplicate content detection.
Abusing Structured Data and Rich Snippets
Structured Data is also known as “Schema Markup” and “Rich Snippets”, and it gives search engines like Google additional information that can alter how your listing appears on the search results pages.
Examples of Structured Data for a web page include displaying recipe information, book details, business location information, and more. Reviews Schema Markup is one of the most popular types of Structured Data that’s abused with black hat marketing.
Black hat marketers provide inaccurate information in Structured Data to trick search engines and users about the content and to manipulate rankings.
A common example is a site owner giving their content a five-star review rating or inflating the number of reviews with Structured Data so the web page stands out more in the search results pages.
Fake Job Listings and Scholarships
A popular black hat SEO tactic for link building purposes is to set up a fake job listing or scholarship that you can promote on other websites.
By posting a fake job listing, you can get job boards to instantly link back to your website.
Scholarship link building is a black hat SEO strategy that involves setting up a page on your website that promotes a fake scholarship. You then encourage educational institutions to link to that page from their scholarship portals.
Reporting Black Hat SEO
If you want to report a website that’s using black hat SEO methods, then Google has a process for doing that. See this linked guide on how to report black hat SEO to Google.
Black Hat SEO Tools
Xrumer is a black hat SEO tool made for spamming online forums and comment sections.
SENuke offers a lot of features for black Hat SEO. The most popular uses are automatic link building, private website network management, and simulating people searching for your keyword on Google and clicking on your site.
Rankwyz is a popular black hat SEO tool for managing a private blog network.
GSA Search Engine Ranker
GSA Search Engine Ranker is a black hat backlink building SEO tool.
It automatically locates websites for you, registers accounts, and submit your content and links without any intervention on your end.
Scrapebox is a harvester for URLs, keywords, and proxies across the Internet. It’s also a trainable multi-threaded poster that can leave comments on dozens of blogging platforms with your backlink and desired anchor text.
GScraper is a black hat SEO tool that scrapes urls from Google based on the footprints and keywords you specify and then posts links to them.
Article Forge uses artificial intelligence to write high-quality content from scratch about any topic in less than a minute.
The Best Spinner
The Best Spinner is an article spinner. This black hat SEO tool also allows you to generate audio files from any article using text-to-speech technology.
This tool can do full-sentence and paragraph spinning to make your content 100% unique.
WordAi is another black hate article spinner SEO tool.
Does Black Hat SEO Still Work?
Black hat SEO still works to increase a site’s search engine rankings but the results only last a short time. Search engines are constantly being updated to detect black hat SEO and the methods cannot work for long-term rankings or traffic.
Black hat SEO works best for short-term gains on sites that can suffer the risk of being caught and penalized by the search engines.
If you want to use a long-term search engine optimization strategy, then you should focus on white hat SEO methods. White hat SEO is completely safe and encouraged by Google. Visit my guide on what is white hat SEO to learn more about this technique.
Is Black Hat SEO Bad?
Black hat SEO is bad because it is an unethical practice. Black hat SEO violates Google’s webmaster guidelines and can be severely harmful to your website’s long-term ranking health if it is discovered.
Using black hat SEO tactics can lead to your website being penalized (either algorithmically or with a manual action), which means lower-ranking positions and a decline in organic traffic.
Is Black Hat SEO Illegal?
Black hat SEO is not illegal but it does violate the webmaster guidelines set out by Google. Black hat SEO practices can result in the offending site being banned from the search engine and its affiliate sites.
Black Hat SEO Summary
I hope you enjoyed this guide on what is black hat SEO.
As you discovered, the basic meaning of black hat SEO is using special tactics to increase a site’s rankings on the search engine results pages that violate search engine guidelines. Black hat SEO techniques are a type of spamdexing that manipulates Google’s algorithm for unjust gain in rankings traffic.
Black hat marketing is an unethical practice of search engine optimization; however, it’s still quite popular in the industry and many black hat SEO tools exist to help marketers engage in this type of activity.
The black hat SEO examples you found on this page are the most common strategies being used today, but this dark art of SEO continues to evolve with new methods coming out each year that search engine algorithms must be trained to detect.
The Editorial Staff at SEO Chatter is a team of search engine optimization and digital marketing experts led by Stephen Hockman with more than 15 years of experience in search engine marketing. We publish guides on the fundamentals of SEO for beginner marketers.