The Complete Guide To Black Hat SEO (Why You Should Avoid It)


Most businesses are interested in ranking well on Google so that they can get more traffic and grow their business. Ranking well on Google is a consideration all businesses think about because they know the benefits of ranking well against their competitors. 

One way to rank well is by using SEO. SEO is built by using various strategies and tactics that are done legally and properly to avoid search engine penalties. Also know there is no quick fix or one and done SEO strategy, SEO is a long game.

What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

SEO is a process of improving your website’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO can help you attract more visitors and increase leads as well as help you run circles around your competition.

SEO one of the most important factors in gaining visibility and increasing your ranking on search engines like Google, Bing, Baidu, and Yahoo. Search engines are a critical way for potential customers to find your business, so you want your website to appear at the top of their lists when people search for products or services like yours.

However, ranking high in searches is not easy and there is no quick and magical trick to make it happen fast that is not risky and can cause long term negative effects on your ranking.

Google searches two billion websites.

Currently there are around two billion websites in existence which is a stark contrast to the 1 million websites in 1997, 2.4 million in 1998 and 17 million in 2000.

This means when someone searches for something on Google or any other search engine, there are over two billion websites for the search engine to take into consideration when it gives the person searching back the results.

The real number of web pages it crawls through will be lower based on the specifics of your search and your location, but there still is still quite a bit if competition in every industry.

SEO helps Google cut through the noise to give the searcher results they will be happy with and with the right SEO strategies, the results will be your business at the top or at least on the first page of Google.

Quick Note: Yoast is not a SEO strategy.

One of the many pieces to an SEO strategy almost always involves our client’s or people who know wanting to lean into Yoast thinking that is all they need to do their SEO.

As an agency owner, it is so common to meet with a new client for a website or SEO and for our client to say “I already have ton a bunch of SEO to my site” or “I understand SEO and I have invested a lot of time using Yoast”.

As a company that does SEO, we understand that SEO is completely misunderstood by most of our clients and that the strategies that might have put into place can harm them in the long run or the energy put in is not actually going to yield any reward.

It is common for clients to think adding a WordPress Plugin like Yoast or All In One SEO is actually accomplishing SEO, but it is not. Is is a tool, but it is so basic most SEO experts will tell you is that Yoast and other SEO plugins contribute to around 10% of actual SEO strategies.

Yoast is great, we recommend it to our clients, and we use it as an agency, but it is not a plugin that “does SEO”. SEO is way more complex than that.

SEO is misunderstood and if done improperly can cause penalties and bans on your website.

SEO is a commonly misunderstood practice. It is often misunderstood because there are unlimited variations and different ways to do SEO. Some of these methods can really boost you while others can activate Google penalties while others don’t.

Understanding that SEO is complex and acquires various tools tools and skills. Below are some examples of ways you can improve your SEO as well as we will talk about the 4 types of SEO as well as the 3 techniques used.

Since there are numerous types of SEO and even more ways to do it. To make things easier for you, this guide will help decide what works best for your business!

Black and red info graphic with 4 quadrants explain types of SEO.

The 4 types of SEO.

SEO is a term that’s thrown around a lot. It’s easy to feel like you’re being bombarded by SEO advice that doesn’t apply to your business or industry. But, most of the time, SEO can be broken down into four main types. In this article, I’ll walk through each type.

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO refers to actions you can take to help a website rank higher in search engine results. This could be having a good website, an excellent homepage, improving content, meta, schema, internal linking, alt tags, speed and performance as well as mobile responsiveness to name a few.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO is all of the efforts that you make outside of your website to increase its authority. These are typically the strategies where people start looking for quick and easy ways to rank that might get them into trouble. Quality examples: Link building, social media, PR, reviews (Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc.), guest blogging (Quality content that makes senses), etc. However, people will take the easy way out for example and pay got Google reviews, and that can get you into big trouble. Getting real and authentic review is key!

Technical SEO

This is SEO that can also be looked at as On-Page SEO, but with a bit more complexity. Things like 301 redirects, schema and robot.txt are involved in technical SEO. Take a peek at Search Engine Journal’s Advanced Technical SEO: A Complete Guide.

Local SEO:

Local SEO is a great way to grow your business. It can help you attract customers in your area and increase sales. You can improve your local SEO by getting reviews (Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc.), targeting local keywords, having a local address and hours, using location-based keywords in your content and having an optimized GMB (Google My Business). Local SEO is the fastest growing segment of digital marketing. It’s also one of the most effective ways to get more customers, so it’s worth investing in. If you want to learn more about local SEO best practices and how they can help your business grow, contact us today!

Red, grey and white graphic with side by side explanation of white, grey, and black SEO techniques.

There are 3 types of SEO techniques; white hat, black hat, and gray hat SEO.

You can choose from 3 main types of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques; white hat, black hat, and gray hat SEO. The main differences each have is how they follow Google’s guidelines which impacts your SEO efforts.

As an agency that prides ourself in SEO that is done ethically, we focus on only Whit Hat SEO, however, it is important to understand what Grey Hat and Black Hat SEO is so that you can avoid those techniques and you can spot them.

It is important when working with a SEO company that SEO services you are getting and following Google’s Guidelines, or your website could be penalized and banned forever. I know that sounds harsh, but we have worked with numerous clients trying to recover after working with a bad SEO company.

This guide will help you spot Black Hat SEO techniques so you can avoid them.

What is White Hat SEO?

White Hat SEO is the most ethical and professional way to rank in Google. The goal of white hat SEO is to create high-quality content that answers your audience’s questions and provides value to them.

White hat SEO takes time and is a long-term investment. If you are patient and consistent it will help improve your SEO. By doing it the right way, you don’t have to worry about your rankings suddenly falling off a cliff one day because of an algorithm update or other unexpected issue.

The most important thing for you to understand about white hat SEO is that it doesn’t mean you have to write boring content or follow conventional wisdom blindly. Instead, you can focus on building up your business’s quality content and strategies with sustainable marketing practices that will support it in the years ahead.

While there are some core principles involved with getting good rankings in Google, there are also lots of ways to get creative with your content strategy if you have something unique to say or are looking into very specific niche markets within your industry.

White hat alternatives should not be alternatives, yet understanding these white hat tactics as the key to long-term success and healthy practices will win that long game that SEO truly is.

It is indeed a science and an art to be able to be honorable and diligent with these practices for your business and your client’s businesses.

Examples of White Hat SEO

Earn (search) traffic through valuable and relevant content: Content is king. In this case, the more content you have, the better you’ll rank when people search for your keywords. It’s also important to keep in mind that high-quality, relevant content is more likely to rank better than thin or thin-sounding copy—so focus on creating something that’s both informative and interesting for your users! Don’t be afraid to use keywords in your title tag or description tag if it makes sense to do so; don’t go overboard though as this can cause Google’s algorithm to penalize your site by pushing it down further in search rankings because they think it’s “spammy” (or worse yet; penalize with manual action).

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is the most important part of White Hat SEO. If you have a website that’s not optimized for search engines, it will never show up in Google’s search results. You can do this by using markup, optimizing page titles and meta descriptions, and using hreflang tags, canonical URLs, and sitemaps. You can also use Google Analytics to track how many people are visiting your website from search engines like Google or Bing.

Increasing website speed and performance

Use CDN (Content Delivery Network) as well as quality hosting. Use a high-quality caching plugin. Make sure the website pages are optimized as well as the images.

Writing high-quality content that satisfies searcher intent

Searchers are looking for answers. A query on Google, Bing, or Yahoo is a request for information. It’s a question that needs to be answered. For example, if you type in “What’s the best HAT SEO software?” then your searcher’s intent is to find out which SEO software is the best and you want to know right now! You can write content that satisfies searcher intent by answering their questions directly and providing links (or mentioning) where they can learn more about it later.

Use White Hat link-building techniques to increase organic rankings

Link building is an essential part of SEO that helps you build trust, authority, and relationships with other websites, which in turn can help increase organic rankings for your site. It’s important to remember that links are no longer just about getting more traffic from other sites—links are now considered by search engines as one of the most important ranking factors when it comes to determining where content should rank on SERPs (search engine results pages).

Benefits of White Hat SEO

As you can see, there are many benefits to white hat SEO. It’s not just about avoiding penalties – it also helps you rank better in Google, which is important if you want your site to be seen by people who are searching for the products or services that you offer.

Many different techniques can help increase your rankings such as link building, content creation, and technical SEO. If someone wants more information on how they can implement these techniques at their own company then they should contact us today!

What is Gray Hat SEO

Quick Note: The “Grey” in Grey Hat SEO can be spelled with an “a” or an “e” depending on where you live geographically. We will use both “Grey Hat SEO” and Gray Hat SEO” interchangeably throughout this article to help this article be more SEO optimized. That is SEO at work!

Gray Hat SEO is exactly what you think it is, it is the middle ground between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO and is not considered to be against Google’s Guidelines, yet it is.

There is a ton of controversy if you search the internet about whether or not Gray Hat SEO can get you into trouble. First, anything that is not White Hat SEO can get you into trouble, but often Gray Hat SEO goes under the radar easier than Black Hat SEO.

Black Hat SEO are SEO tactics that will get you into a lot of trouble and penalize you through Google and other search engines. We will go more in-depth about Black Hat SEO later in the article.

The interesting thing about Grey Hat SEO is that one year it can be considered White Hat SEO but a year later it could be considered Black Hat SEO. This is one of the reasons that marketers need to keep on track of Google’s and other search engines’ best practices.

It is important to understand it is better to be safe than sorry. Getting caught in violation of Google’s guidelines can cause long-term damage to your business’s visibility.

Examples Grey Hat SEO

Guest blogging with low-quality sites

Guest blogging is a great way to build your brand, gain exposure and drive organic traffic to your site. The first step is finding the right blogs in your niche that are open for guest posts. It’s important to avoid low-quality sites because they’re not going to help you establish yourself as an authority in your industry and may even hurt your credibility in the eyes of search engines. Make sure there’s mutual benefit for both parties involved in this process—the writer gets more readers while the host gets an expert opinion from an outside source (you!). Don’t just write a bunch of useless fluff; provide useful tips or advice based on previous experience or research done by others within this niche area so readers can get something out of what they read too!

Commenting on blogs to get backlinks

Searching the internet for blogs to comment on is a way to boost backlinks, but it is also not the classiest way to boost your SEO and can get you into trouble.

Cold email asking for backlinks

This is a very common tactic that almost every business owner has seen. You get an email from a random person asking you to link to their blog or website or they offer to link your business’s website or blog to theirs. Their emails are spammy and are sent to you randomly. However, this is not as bad ask buying backlinks – it still can hurt your ranking.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Black Hat SEO is a marketing method that uses unethical, deceptive, and sometimes even illegal methods to improve search engine rankings.

It’s considered to be a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, which means that if you’re caught doing it, the search engine will penalize your site.

Google has made it clear that Black Hat SEO techniques are against their guidelines, which is why they will penalize you for using them. If Google finds that you’ve been using a Black Hat SEO technique on your website, it could result in a penalty that could get your website banned from Google completely.

The term “black hat” describes a type of hacker who breaks into computers and networks for malicious purposes. It’s a term often used in the computer security industry to describe hackers who take advantage of vulnerabilities without permission.

In the context of search engine optimization, black hat practices are viewed as highly unethical or even downright illegal because they can include hacking into websites or paying Google employees to manipulate your website’s ranking within their algorithm.

Black Hat SEO Examples

Let’s get into some of the most common black hat SEO techniques.

Keyword stuffing

Using the same keyword or phrase over and over again in your content to try and increase rankings.

Article spinning

Copying an article from another source, rephrasing it, then publishing it as your work on a different domain name to try and improve your Google rankings.

Link building without permission

Creating links to websites to that you do not have permission from the owner of said website (e.g. if you want a link to your blog on someone else’s website).
Cloaking: When a site shows different content to search engines than what users see when they visit, this is known as cloaking. If you were looking at a website but seeing an entirely different one when searching for an exact phrase or keyword term in Google, chances are high that this was done through cloaking!

Toxic Backlinks

A toxic backlink or link might damage your Google rankings in a way that the effect can be seen by ordinary people like you or me who don’t understand all the ins and outs of search engine optimization naturally. So essentially, if someone adds you to their blogroll or anything like that, it’s highly likely that they’re trying to do something wrong.

Thin/Low-quality content

“Low quality” or “Thin content” or “Shallow content” is a type of web content that consists of very little meaning and value-adding information, and instead contains little or no solid content, usually a list of keywords with low-quality links. This content refers to pages on your site that are very short on substance. They may also be duplicates of existing pages on your site, submitted to low-quality directories for quick ranking, or optimized for keywords that do not match the meaning or context of the page

How to Avoid Black Hat SEO Penalties by Google

Your SEO strategy should be focused on building value for your users, not spamming search engines. The long-term benefits of a good user experience will far outweigh the short-term gains you may get from using black hat tactics.

Use white hat SEO techniques.

Google doesn’t want to penalize websites using black hat SEO, but they aren’t stupid either. If you use black hat tactics, even if you don’t get caught by Google, you run the risk of getting penalized by the other search engines or having your website deindexed by Google.

Use good content and links to your site

Do what works for you and makes sense for your readers, but don’t try too hard to game the system with spammy content or link-building schemes that can get your site banned from the SERPs entirely!

Do Quality On-Page SEO

Make sure all of your pages have unique titles and descriptions so that people can easily find them on Google when they search for something related to what is being offered on those pages/images etc.; make sure that these keywords are included in titles as well (but again avoid overdoing it since this could lead down a slippery slope). Also, include relevant keywords within headings throughout each page’s text so users can quickly scan through it without needing much effort at all.”

Black hat SEO tactics can work for a time

Black hat strategies can get you quick results. They will help build your site quickly and give you some rankings in the short term.

But it won’t last, because these black hat strategies don’t create the best user experience, which is one of Google’s core values. You’re also potentially risking your business by doing something that could cause a penalty or even worse: getting banned from Google altogether (which has happened to many sites).

In the short term, you can make good money as a result of black hat tactics. However, in the long run, it is not sustainable since Google will eventually find out about your spammy links and penalize your website.

Why Black Hat SEO efforts don’t work in the long run.

If you’re trying to get traffic and make money on Google, there’s a good chance that you’ve considered using black hat SEO tactics.

You may have heard the stories of how other people have been able to rank their sites quickly and easily by doing things like buying links or making use of keyword stuffing. However, these techniques are not only ineffective in the long run but also highly risky.

For example, spammy links also negatively impact your brand’s reputation over time. So when that happens, even if you clean up all of the spammy links and start producing content again with an honest strategy, it will be hard to recover from the damage done by using black hat SEO strategies in the first place.

Another reason why black hat SEO doesn’t win in the long term is that it isn’t scalable: once Google finds out about what you’ve been doing and removes those pages from its index (or penalizes them), they’re gone forever—that means all those backlinks are lost forever too!

In the long run, you will be discovered.

But in the long run, your spammy ways will be discovered. It’s only a matter of time before you’re penalized by Google or another search engine and lose your rankings to competitors who are following white hat SEO strategies.

What most black-hat SEO practitioners don’t realize is that Google’s algorithms are always learning. The more people use them, the better they get at identifying low-quality sites and spammy content.

Eventually, Google learns from its mistakes and improves its algorithm to weed out low-quality sites. As a result, black hat SEO practices are no longer effective in winning the long game.

The long game is for your users and your brand to build upon.

Building a site that’s useful to users is a long game. It takes time and effort to build up your authority with an audience, and it can be difficult to maintain your focus as you work towards your goals.

You’ll need to invest in content and user experience, build links, build trust with your audience, and stay consistent over time (and this list is by no means exhaustive).

Even if you’re not trying to earn money or get traffic from search engines—if you want readers—you’ll still need the same things: good content on a website they find valuable enough that they want to come back again later.

You don’t want to spend months or years building up your website just to have it wiped out by an algorithm update.

That’s why black hat SEO isn’t a long game. It’s only useful in the short term when you’re trying to get traction and rank quickly. But once Google updates its algorithm, all those links can disappear overnight—and then so does your traffic, revenue, and ranking position.

It takes time, effort and consistancy but it is worth it.

SEO is a complex and ever-evolving field. While building your business and investing in SEO, remember that only White Hat SEO is worth it in the long run. Yes, it takes time, effort and constancy and for those of us that are not patience that can be so frustrating. However, it is better to follow the proper guidelines so that you business does not pay the price. Getting penalized by Google or banned can cost you business a ton of money and be a loss that you might never recover from.

Stick with White Hat SEO. If you want to work with a company that prides themselves in White Hat SEO or check in on past SEO strategies of a previous company that you have worked with, connect with us – we are here to help!