Black Hat Marketing: 5 SEO Practices Google Doesn’t Approve Of

Black hat SEO.. dun dun dun. 

We’ve all seen the silhouette of a dark figure bent over a computer creating malicious viruses and spyware. “Black hat” refers to the violation of computer security.

So what exactly is black hat SEO and how do you avoid it on your website?

We’ve got all the answers to your questions, and some tips on how to avoid unethical SEO practices with your site.

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What is Black Hat SEO?

Manipulating search engine indexes is called Black Hat SEO or “Spamdexing.” 

Hackers and other scammers often use black hat techniques to get people to visit a fake website or download something that includes a virus to infect your computer. 

However, black hat SEO can also be accidental. Some companies with the best of intentions can use black hat techniques without realizing it. 

Even if it’s not intentional, you can get penalized for using these techniques for your SEO so it’s best to understand the rules before you decide on an SEO strategy.

Why do People Choose to Engage in Black Hat SEO?

Sometimes a black hat strategy might seem like a great idea to help your website rank on Google. 

Occasionally these techniques do in fact improve your SEO but they aren’t useful because unethical practices won’t help you gain customers. 

Besides being unethical, there are other reasons to avoid black hat SEO techniques.

What Are the Potential Consequences of Black Hat SEO?

If Google deems that you have violated their Webmaster’s Guidelines, they will remove parts or all of your website from showing up on their search engine. 

Your site will be subject to review before Google will allow it back onto the search pages. 

The time when your website is not showing up on Google can mean big losses in potential clients. Your current clients might also start to ask questions. 

The fact is, getting on Google’s bad side can put a big dent in your bottom line. 

If your site had any authority before, it will be back to square one after Google penalizes you. 

You will lose the hard work and money you spent on ranking your site. You might even have to start over with a new domain name which would be a major expense, especially if you’re already well-established.

White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO

As you can probably guess, white hat SEO is the opposite of black hat SEO.

White hat SEO is what Google wants you to do to improve your site’s legitimacy.

Read more about white hat SEO here.

5 Black Hat SEO Techniques to Avoid

If you’re wondering exactly what SEO techniques not to use, here are the most common violations that will result in a penalty from Google.

#1: Cloaking

Cloaking is when your webpage shows up differently on the search engine than it does to the website visitor. 

If you send the search engine a website with HTML text, but the site shows up as a page of images, this is cloaking.

Why Is This Technique Considered Black Hat SEO?

Cloaking is intentionally misleading the search engine. Google needs to know what is on your webpage, in order to give their user the best search results possible.

Cloaking Example

Anna was searching for an article on Google about home decor tips. 

She typed in, “what color to paint your baseboards?” 

One of the links on the first page of Google was titled, “5 unique shades for your baseboards.” Anna clicked the link. 

Although the website was supposed to be an article, it popped up on Anna’s screen as a bunch of videos instead. She had unintentionally clicked on a spam website. 

The spam site used cloaking to rank on Google as an article, but it was actually presented to the viewer as a site using Javascript.

Cloaking can get very technical. Most likely, you will have to go through a lot of extra effort to cloak your website and this won’t happen accidentally.

What Can You Do Instead?

Make sure that the web content you present to the search engine is the same as the content on your webpage. 

If you have someone creating your website for you, make sure that it’s functioning properly.

You want Google’s algorithm to be able to get an idea of what your page is about so that it can rank for the appropriate keywords.

#2: Irrelevant Keywords (Keyword Stuffing)

Keyword stuffing is when a piece of website content is written with so many keywords that it seems unnatural to the reader.

Why Is This Technique Considered Black Hat SEO?

Using too many keywords at once can lead to a negative experience for your reader. Nobody wants to visit a webpage and read the same phrases over and over without any substantial information.

Keyword Stuffing Example

Here’s what we mean:

The keyword, “customer cigar humidors” is used too often in this piece of content. It seems forced and gives the reader a bad experience.

What Can You Do Instead?

Make sure you use keywords in a natural way. The best way to use them is by centering your content around headers that include the keyword you want to use. 

For example, if you’re trying to rank for the keyword, “Handmade Pillow Cases,” you could write an article titled, “How Our Handmade Pillow Cases Are Sewn.”

Remember to bring lots of valuable information to your reader instead of just stuffing your content with keywords in order to rank.

#3: Sneaky Redirects

Have you ever clicked on a link expecting to go to a specific webpage but it actually leads you to something completely different?

This is called a sneaky redirect, and it’s not allowed.

Why Is This Technique Considered Black Hat SEO?

Because sneaky redirects negatively affect the user, Google asks you not to use them.

Sneaky Redirect Example

Sarah was searching for information on Google. 

She typed in, “what type of Dog collar is best?”

A link came up on the first page of Google that was advertised as a site about dogs but when Sarah clicked the link it brought her to a different website that had nothing to do with dogs. 

She had accidentally clicked on a link that was a sneaky redirect.

What Can You Do Instead?

Only use redirection for the following reasons:

  • You’re transitioning your site to a new URL
  • You’re condensing several pages together

Google won’t penalize you for using redirection, as long as it leads to a webpage that is very close to what the viewer was requesting originally.

If you don’t want to have to worry about whether redirects are sneaky or if they are appropriate, use Portland SEO Growth to manage your content for you. 

Instead of trying to familiarize yourself with all the elaborate search engine rules, our 25+ SEO experts will create your content without ever using black hat techniques.

#4: Link Schemes

Paying for links is against the rules of Google. You can’t buy, sell, or trade links within the guidelines.

Why Is This Technique Considered Black Hat SEO?

Buying and selling links is considering manipulating the search engines for higher rankings.

Link Scheme Example

If you own website XYZ and company ABC approaches you and asks if you will post a link to their website on your website, this is a link scheme.

What Can You Do Instead?

Refuse anyone’s request to buy or sell links on your website.

If you are using an outside company for help with your website, make sure that they aren’t including any paid links on your site.

#5: Subpar Content

Google wants to display websites that include valuable content for the viewer.

Subpar content is a violation of Google’s guidelines. There are several reasons why a piece of content would be considered subpar:

  • It was automatically generated and does not make sense to the reader
  • It was copied and pasted from another webpage without any added content
  • It was copied and pasted from another webpage with only slight changes or added content. 
  • It only included embedded videos without any text or added content.
  • It used doorway pages that have several URLs all leading users to the same page.

When you click on a link that includes subpar content, you will notice right away. The content may seem repetitive like it was written by a computer. 

The writing may have grammatical errors and be very hard to read. After a few seconds of trying to decipher a piece of subpar content, you will realize there is no real information on the page.

Why Is This Technique Considered Black Hat SEO?

Subpar content is irritating to the user. It’s also a very quick way to get black-listed by Google.

Subpar content won’t help your website rank because when someone ends up on your page they will immediately leave since the content is not worthwhile.

You won’t gain clients this way since they will have a negative experience on your website.

Subpar Content Example

Subpar content might look something like this:

Cheap camera parts. Camera parts where to buy. Camera parts. Where to get my camera fixed. How to change camera parts. 

There is no useful information in this content. It’s just keywords strung together to manipulate the search engine results.

What Can You Do Instead?

Only create content that is useful, interesting, and engaging for your reader. 

Make sure to run your content through a duplicate content checker before publishing it.

Black Hat SEO Services - NOT Provided by Portland SEO Growth. We Don’t Need to Utilize Shady Tactics to Boost Your SEO Results.

Portland SEO Growth is a professional SEO marketing company. We pride ourselves on our ability to help your website rank, without using any unsavory tactics. 

Our 25+ SEO experts create interesting, engaging content that won’t get you in trouble with Google. The most important thing for us is to bring value to your readers. 

Articles written by Portland SEO Growth do not include keyword stuffing or subpar content. We make sure your website doesn’t include sneaky redirection or link schemes. 

Most importantly, we make sure your website ranks the right way. You can be sure your SEO efforts are not going to be wasted by a Google penalty for black hat SEO tactics. 

Here is one great example of our work

Our client Chiavaye had almost no organic traffic from search engines when they came to us for help. 

Now, Chiavaye gains thousands of visits to their website because of great content written for SEO. 

With Portland SEO Growth, you can stop worrying about accidentally getting on Google’s bad side. Avoid a black hat SEO penalty and call us for help with your marketing strategy.

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Taylor Pezzini

Writer, Editor, and Military Spouse