In SEO, we commonly follow the rules set by Google. But unfortunately, some of these guidelines aren’t always set in stone.
That’s where black hat SEO comes in. Black hat is the process of going against Google Guidelines to manipulate their search engine for SEO.
While these black hat tactics generally work, they are risky since they can result in manual penalties for your website.
In this article, I’ll list out some of the common black hat SEO techniques you need to watch out for and how you can avoid them.
1. Buying Paid Links for your Website
Purchasing links for SEO is a commonly used tactic that’s very much against Google’s guidelines.
This method is recognized as a black hat technique since it attempts to manipulate search results artificially instead of receiving backlinks naturally.
While some paid links are fine (if you have to pay an article submission fee), you can expect that link to be devalued if you’re just paying for link placements that aren’t relevant to the page or website.
While a manual penalty is rare in this case, that money will likely be wasted since Google uses its spambrain algorithm to negate the value of these links.
You’re better off investing the time and energy necessary to build links that will make a difference.
2. Spamming Comments
Have you ever noticed a new comment on your site that screams spam, complete with unrelated promotional links?
Before Google updated its link spam algorithms, these tactics inflated rankings artificially. Now, they’re almost entirely worthless.
These comments aim for quick, free backlinks. Some even use automated tools to scatter these spammy comments.
If your link provider mentions this strategy, you better run as far away as possible.
3. Using Only Duplicate Content
In simple terms, duplicate content is when the same material appears in more than one place, either within a single website or across different sites.
Search engines, especially Google, prioritize fresh and original content.
When they detect the same content in multiple locations, it’s often interpreted as an attempt to manipulate rankings.
Even unintentional duplication on the same website can cause search engines to struggle with ranking your content.
But with that being said, this type of content won’t result in manual penalties.
Your content will likely be devalued and struggle to rank, but it won’t necessarily cause any more significant issues for your site.
4. Spinning Articles Even Though This Tactic Is Outdated
Article spinning builds on the concept of duplicate content.
It’s a common trend where software is used to reword the original material instead of directly copying content.
While this content may appear ‘new’ and ‘unique’ on the surface, search engines can still spot what’s spun and what’s not.
Especially after Google’s Penguin algorithm update, article spinning was killed entirely.
That’s not to say that websites still think they can get away with it.
5. Using Cloaking Techniques
Cloaking is a technique where a website displays different content to search engines than to actual users.
This black hat technique is used to deceive search engines into ranking a site higher for specific keywords that aren’t even on the page.
It’s a tactic of using invisible text to keyword stuff.
This deceptive tactic undermines the trustworthiness of search engines, but it also shows you’re willing to manipulate search engines and potentially mislead users.
Search engines can easily see past this black hat tactic, so you should stay very far away from this.
6. Misleading Users With Doorway Pages
Doorway pages, sometimes referred to as gateway, jump, or bridge pages, are designed with a singular aim: to rank for specific keywords, even if those keywords aren’t directly relevant to the page’s content.
While these pages might be tailored for specific search queries, they often need more depth and meaningful content.
Instead of providing helpful information to your readers, these pages are created to mislead search engines.
When users click on these results, they’re often redirected to another page or site that’s not even related to the original result.
If you want an easy manual penalty, this is the best way to do it.
7. Stuffing Keywords to Manipulate Search Engines
Keyword stuffing involves saturating a page with repetitive keywords to “increase” search engine rankings.
However, modern search engine algorithms have upgraded from exact-match keywords to natural language processing and word vectors.
These tactics are no longer necessary, and doing so will likely cause Google to devalue your content since this is now done to manipulate search engine rankings.
Long story short, just write for the user.
Keyword stuffing, while it might work in the short term, is not a sustainable long-term strategy.
8. Using Invisible Text
Invisible text places white text, often a list of keywords, on a white background.
While this renders the keywords undetectable to users, search engines can still identify them.
However, this tactic is outdated and ineffective.
Modern search engines have algorithms that can detect hidden text, and using them can lead to manual penalties.
It’s a short-term tactic with long-term negative implications.
Staying Away from Consequences
If there’s a main takeaway from this article, it’s to stay far away from black hat SEO.
While they might offer short-term gains in rankings, search engines will continue to evolve and get better at recognizing and penalizing these tactics.
Whether your content is devalued or hit with a manual penalty, it’s not worth it for the short-term gains.
Focus on creating great and unique content and build relevant and legit links. That’s at least 50% of SEO right there.
Just keep doing that consistently, and results will start compounding over time.