What is Black Hat SEO And Why You Should Avoid it

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What is Black Hat SEO? Good question.

As marketers, we’ve been trying for decades to figure out the best ways to grow business with SEO

And throughout the years, there have been many SEO techniques that lead to actual growth

As we learned more, it turns out there are two aspects of SEO: 

Black hat SEO and white hat SEO.

Search engines love white hat SEO techniques and encourage webmasters to follow them. But what is black hat SEO? Does it work? And what SEO techniques should you avoid to keep your ranking safe?

In this post, we’ll answer all those questions and more. 

Let’s get started.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Black Hat SEO is a set of unethical SEO techniques used to improve a site’s ranking in the SERPs. Those practices are not illegal, but they go against search engine terms of service. 

black hat seo

Black Hat SEO always results in severe penalties to the websites practicing it. That punishment comes in the form of lower rankings and huge losses in organic traffic.

Does Black Hat SEO Work?

There’s no short or straightforward answer to this question.

Honestly — yes. 

Black hat SEO does work, and you’ll see some results if you use it. If you follow its’ techniques, you’ll be able to trick search engines into favoring your website. And you’ll notice a boost in your SERP rankings.

However, those results never last in the long term, and black hat SEO only works on algorithms. 

Webmasters that rely on black hat techniques face many challenges with keeping their audiences interested. 

Why is this so?

Well, let’s think about it this way:

People have gotten a lot smarter when it comes to digital marketing. They can quickly identify fake offers, paid links, and low-quality content. So, when they see all those things, they’ll quickly leave your website and never come back again.

Search engines will eventually catch up — whether through a manual action taken by Google teams or an automatic update. And once there, it will notice the tricky practices you’ve been following. 

Your website will be penalized with a significant decline in SERP rankings. 

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4 Black Hat SEO Techniques to Stay Away From

There have been dozens of black hat SEO techniques throughout the years. However, most of them are outdated or easily detected by search engines.

While we’re talking about what is black hat SEO, we should discuss the various types.

In this list, we’ll show you the ones that are still used by black hat SEOs. You’ll learn why they’re against the guidelines and why you should stay away from them:

1- Poor Quality Content

This is the most common black hat SEO technique on the internet today — and it’s used because it doesn’t feel so black hat.

We see many webmasters and business owners start blogs for their websites. They fall in love with the idea that blogging will help them grow their business. 

But when it comes to the hard part where they create valuable content, they skip it. Instead, those marketers settle for mediocre black hat methods.

Examples of Black Hat SEO in content creation:

  • Adding invisible or unrelated keywords to the web page to trick algorithms
  • Duplicate content: copying content from other websites and using it as your own 
  • Switching content from a web page after it ranks first in the SERPs
  • Keyword stuffing by writing long-form, low-quality content that doesn’t provide any solutions

There was a time where Google didn’t understand words for what they are. Algorithms couldn’t infer the real meaning of keywords, so they were easy to trick. 

But, with the use of AI technology and LSI keywords, those days are over. Search engines are now smarter than ever.

2- Paid Links

“Paid links” refers to buying links from other giants in your niche to help you improve your SEO rankings. 

Of course, that doesn’t seem to be so wrong when you look at it from a webmaster’s standpoint. You pay a high authority website to link back to your web pages while you do your best to provide value for the traffic that comes from it.

However, Google has banned all the buying and selling of links between websites. And now, it’s considered a sneaky method of improving PageRank and passing link juice.

Avoid paid links like the plague.

Not sure how to get backlinks and improve your rankings?

Read our article on how to build backlinks for your website and boost your SERP rankings with various white hat SEO techniques. 

3- Private Blog Networks

A private blog network (PBN) consists of multiple sites with high authority domains that are only used for link building. 

The network is built through the buying of expired authoritative domains. Those domains will then be used to pass authority to the main website of the business.

private blog networks

This is a pure black hat technique that’s guaranteed to destroy your online presence as soon as it’s exposed. Search engine algorithms have gotten a lot smarter with detecting PBNs in the past years.

So, instead of working on several websites, focus your efforts on your main site. 

Build an authentic online brand that provides value and solutions to its customers. Google will notice your genuine efforts and reward you for them with top rankings.

4- Cloaking

Cloaking is a technique where content presented to human visitors is different from that shown to crawling spiders.

This method is often used in situations where there isn’t much text to be crawled by algorithms. Cloaking tricks algorithms into overestimating the value of content on a page.

cloaking for SEO

Examples of websites that could use cloaking: 

  • Flash-based websites
  • Image galleries
  • HTML rich websites
  • File upload sites

Since content and relevance are key ranking factors, search engines never tolerate cloaking. Once a website is exposed for doing this, it will be heavily penalized.


Successful SEO is all about delivering value and striving for perfection. If you do that correctly, you’re guaranteed to see your website grow and receive the traffic it deserves.

Black Hat SEO, on the other hand, never lasts too long. It will show you some improvement at the beginning, but all of that will go to the ground once Google is aware of what you’re doing.

Now that you know what is black hat SEO, if you’re not sure what your SEO strategy needs to succeed, contact us. 

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We’re here to help! Check out our SEO services and get your free SEO scoreboard in minutes. You can also contact us if you need help optimizing your business for this digital age.

Jeramy Gordon is the founder and Chief Content Officer at the Lorem Ipsum Company. He has been creating successful content strategies for almost two decades and believes in the power of high-quality content. He lives in Orange County, California, with his wife and two children.

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