What Is Black Hat SEO, and What Practices It Uses

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What Is Black Hat SEO, and What Practices It Uses

Black hat SEO stands for site optimization using techniques prohibited by search engines. This way of promotion can be effective though risky as the search engines may impose sanctions upon detecting it. In this article, we’ll discuss notions such as a doorway, cloaking, and satellite. We’ll also analyze if all of them are worth using in 2024 and how you can efficiently analyze and implement high-quality SEO techniques on your website.

1. What Is Black Hat SEO?

One of the most frequent questions arising with newbie SEO specialists is what black hat SEO is and how it differs from grey and white hat SEO techniques. Let’s look at the main differences between these approaches:

  1. White hat SEO stands for site optimization based on search engine recommendations. White hat promotion doesn’t entail any substantial risks to get under the search engine filters, even though it can be long-term, laborious, and not always effective because of high competition.
  2. Grey hat SEO includes methods that are not recommended by search engines, such as purchasing links from other sites. With grey hat SEO, you risk being sanctioned by search engines.
  3. Black hat SEO is the fastest and riskiest way of website promotion. Methods used in black hat SEO include illegal means of getting to the top of search engine results via specially created sites and changing the content of your resource. The black hat SEO is brought into maximum use against competitor websites in order to get them banned by search engines.

2. Black hat vs white hat SEO: the key differences

Apart from the fact that search engines don't approve of black hat SEO, some more factors differentiate it from white hat SEO. Let's take a look at them:

Black SEO White SEO
Refers to aggressive SEO tactics and strategies focusing only on search engines rather than the human audience. Refers to utilizing SEO tactics and strategies that focus more on human audiences rather than search engines and completely follow the rules and policies established by search engines.
It is popular among those seeking quick financial returns on their site. It improves your SERP performance while maintaining your website's integrity.
It contains stuff and spam keywords to fool the search engine crawlers and improve ranking. It contains proper research, craft titles, and meta tags that correspond with the website's niche and relevance
It is commonly used for achieving short-term goals and benefits. It is mostly used for achieving long-term goals and benefits.
Techniques used:
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Doorway and cloaked pages
  • Creating blog comment spam
  • Hidden texts
  • Hidden links
  • Taking part in link schemes
Techniques used:
  • Research
  • Analysis
  • Re-writing of meta tags to be more appropriate
  • Content improvement
  • Page loading time enhancement
  • Prioritizing mobile-friendliness
Manipulation takes the place of the algorithm to get better results. It can achieve a high ranking via Organic means.
It degrades the user experience and doesn't fulfill the search intent. It enhances the user experience and matches the search intent.
It is not concerned with creating high-quality content. Its main focus is producing high-quality content.
It reduces the trustworthiness and authority of websites. It improves the credibility and reputation of a website.

3. SEO black hat optimization practices

Now that you understand the difference between different SEO techniques, let's explore the specifics of black hat SEO and its major types.


What is Black Hat SEO and What Practices it Encompasses

Cloaking or disguise refers to black hat tactics that imply showing different content to users and search engines. Users see normal readable text, while search engines see the content stuffed with keywords. If Google spots such a switcheroo, it imposes sanctions on the website.

Apart from that, cloaking can result from a hacker's attack. If your site was hacked, you should follow Google's recommendations to report the fraud.

Doorway pages

What is Black Hat SEO and What Practices it Encompasses

A doorway is a web page or a site created specifically for other project promotions. Usually, many resources filled with a great number of low-frequent and high-frequent keywords are created. Then, they get to the top of the search results, and the doorway is configured to automatically redirect the users to the promoted website. As a result, different sites can lead to the same resource promoted by the black hat SEO tactics. The practice of the doorway definitely breaks Google's rules.

Hidden text and links

What is Black Hat SEO and What Practices it Encompasses

Adding content with keywords that are hidden from users but available to search engines is also a black hat method. Here are the most pervasive ways of displaying hidden text:

  • Adding the text of the same color as the background;
  • Hiding the text with the help of CSS styles;
  • Hiding the text behind the image;
  • Use of 0 font size;
  • Using links in special symbols, such as dashes or dots;
  • Putting invisible links hidden in 1-pixel transparent pictures.

Hidden links can appear on the site without their owner’s awareness while installing modules and extensions of suspicious origin. Their authors sometimes insert such links into a software product to promote their resources.

Google recommendations say that using the text invisible for users and intended only for search bots is not always a violation, it can rather increase site accessibility. It concerns applying such attributes as <alt> and <img> tags, adding the text description of the video to HTML, etc.


What is Black Hat SEO and What Practices it Encompasses

Satellite sites work exactly to promote a specific site, and their number can reach several hundred. Web developers can create satellites on free platforms. Although you can add content to satellites, everything is focused on adding links to the promoted resource.

If search engines don’t recognize this black hat optimization fraud, the site can quickly reach the top of the search results. It's possible to create a chain from thousands of sites with reference links to each other (like a Private Blog Network — PBN). If search engine algorithms recognize this swindle, all resources participating in this scheme will be excluded from the index.

Scraped content

What is Black Hat SEO and What Practices it Encompasses

Illegal usage of texts copied from other resources breaks the Copyright Act. Besides, these actions contradict Google's recommendations. Apart from the text, it is not advised to copy multimedia content from other sites without filling it with information which is important for users.

Link bombing

What is Black Hat SEO and What Practices it Encompasses

Another black hat method is promoting a website via active external optimization. In this case, the anchor text doesn’t correspond to the content on your website. For example, the website sells air humidifiers, and the anchor text that links to the site is "download Windows."

Link bombing is used both to promote your own site and to compete with the help of compromising queries in the anchor text. This method is easily detected by search engines which leads to a site ban.

Promotion via external links

What is Black Hat SEO and What Practices it Encompasses

It is one of the most popular optimization practices that is frowned upon by search engines. Links to the site are obtained in the following ways:

  • Exchange of backlinks based on affiliate programs;
  • Bulk link purchases ;
  • The orders of SEO-optimized articles from third-party sites containing links to a promoted project;
  • Adding a site to online directories with the help of special programs;
  • Automatic generation of comments with links. A special program for posting comments adds them to any available projects, namely websites, blogs, and forums, without considering their subject.

When multiple links from malicious and low-quality sites appear on the website, it won’t do any good for you. Now to rank high, you need links from trustworthy and authoritative websites with matching subjects. Plus, link weight should be grown steadily and naturally.

Behavioral factor imitation

What is Black Hat SEO and What Practices it Encompasses

User behavior is one of the key factors impacting your site ranking. Search engines take into account dwell time, click depth, and other actions that indicate users’ interest in the source. Special software or hired freelancers usually engage in active visit imitation.

Search engines will consider such behavior a signal that the promoted site is more relevant to the query than those that are currently at the first positions. This imitation will give you significant results until the search engines detect it. Once they do, the sanctions will shortly appear.

How has blackhat SEO evolved over the past ten years

Black hat SEO techniques used to have a quick and positive effect. For example, link purchases could quickly bring a promoted website to the top of search results. Filling the site with keywords on a white background was also a popular practice since search algorithms still failed to detect such swindles at that time. As a result, the website's position improved.

Apart from website promotion, black hat SEO techniques were used for joy purposes. For instance, one could achieve rather unexpected search results via link bombing. Thus, till 2007, in response to a search query ‘miserable failure’ in Google, you had been shown a biography of George W. Bush from the White House website.

For now, many black hat SEO techniques have become out of date due to their quick detection by search engines and subsequent sanctions. Paid links and behavioral factors imitation are still in demand, but the efficiency of these promotion techniques in 2020 is doubtful as their usage very often leads to sanctions.

Is it worth using black hat SEO, considering all the risks?

What is Black Hat SEO and What Practices it Encompasses

Apart from the automatic detection of black SEO, users can also complain about fraudulent websites. In case they encounter sites that use prohibited promotion techniques, they can report them as spam.

It is specified in Google’s recommendations that links to the site should appear naturally due to high-quality and unique content. When detecting paid links on any website, you’re suggested to report it using the following form: What is Black Hat SEO and What Practices it Encompasses

When deciding to use black hat techniques, it is necessary to consider all perks and potential risks. Take into account that black hat SEO practices can be spotted not only by search engine algorithms but also by your competitors, who will then disclose this information to search engines, which will result in a lifelong ban. It’s rather hard to recover from Google filters.

It is always better to use white hat SEO techniques in order not to put your website at risk. You should work on content quality and uniqueness, resource usability, page loading speed, the proper mobile version of your site, and other items that positively impact both behavioral and ranking factors.

External optimization requires extreme caution: use various and natural anchor texts, dofollow, nofollow, sponsored, or UGC links, and mind contextual matching. The link-building process should be conducted at a calm pace, without rapid jumps in link weight.

Conduct an efficient SEO audit with Netpeak Spider

Netpeak Spider

To avoid using any black hat method in your SEO strategy, you should only use legitimate software and techniques for promoting your website. And here, we have the two apps that can help you monitor and improve your website's performance. Let's start with Netpeak Spider.

The main perks of this tool are the following:

  • Integrations with Google Analytics and Search Console;
  • JavaScript rendering;
  • Detecting over 100 issues and providing viable solutions to them;
  • Straightforward usage;
  • Real-time interactive dashboard, and many others.

Once you launch Netpeak Spider, all you have to do is paste a list of URLs in the app's search bar, activate Google services' APIs, and select the key metrics for a checkup. In a few moments, you'll see a detailed description of each known issue detected on your website, together with a list of solutions and useful links.

Other than that, you'll be able to extract data from Google services and integrate it into your overall SEO research to further plan and reshape your strategy.

Run your website analysis with Netpeak Checker

Another handy tool to help you efficiently check your website for potential errors and evaluate its overall online metrics is Netpeak Checker. This tool enables multiple integrations with SEO-related services, giving you a total of over 450 parameters that you can assess in just one app.

Apart from that, Netpeak Checker provides you with the following:

  • Bulk cache and index checkups;
  • Custom SERP scraping for Google, Yahoo, and Bing;
  • Contact data search;
  • Website traffic estimation;
  • Integration with Google Drive and Sheets, etc.

Netpeak Checker is just as easy to work with as Netpeak Spider, so you won't need any extra SEO expertise to handle it. Simply add the list of URLs to the search bar and select the necessary parameters you need to check. Wait for a few moments until you see a comprehensive dashboard with the latest stats on your website. This way, you can check out your competitors' stats and compare them to yours.

Let’s recap

Black hat link building and SEO used to be a buzz 10 years ago when optimizers actively used sneaky redirects for website promotion, created doorways and satellites, used cloaking, hidden, or scraped content. At that time, search engines were not able to recognize such scams, and promoted websites got to the top.

Nowadays, search engines take into account not imitated behavioral factors but natural backlink profiles. The purchase of quality links and proper behavioral factors can have a positive impact, but there is also the risk of being punished by search engines.

The safest, though laborious, promotion practice is white hat SEO. Both search engines and resource users positively estimate the work on the site quality and its benefit for visitors.