What Is Black Hat SEO?

Added 12.12.11

If you are new to the world of search engine optimization (or SEO), you may have heard a lot of different terms being thrown around but have no idea what they actually mean. “Black hat SEO” may be one of these terms and, if you want your website to receive good rankings and remain live, it is one you and your team should understand.

Basically, black hat SEO refers to the various unethical techniques that are used to gain higher search rankings. The techniques fall into three categories:

  • those that break the rules and regulations of most search engines
  • those that create a poor user experience
  • those that present content in one way to the search engine spiders, and in another to site visitors

The thing that surprises a lot of people newly associated with SEO is that these black hat techniques were once legitimate SEO practices. Some people went overboard with their use and the techniques became either frowned upon or banned altogether.

The most common black hat SEO techniques in use include keyword stuffing (which involves packing long lists of keywords and virtually nothing else onto your website), invisible text (which involves keywords being hidden in font the same colour as the background), cloaking (which involves one page being made for the search engine spiders and another for users), and doorway pages (which involves SEO pages being redirected to another destination).

There are some people who still find the use of black hat SEO techniques tempting. This is because they do actually provide some short-term gains when it comes to search engine rankings, but as there is no black hat SEO technique that is undetectable by the search engines, it won’t be long before your website is banned or blacklisted for unethical practices.