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What does Black Hat SEO mean?

Black Hat SEO is the general term given to those who seek to optimise a website but do so in a way that is considered dishonest and may end up with the website being banned by some or all search engines.

Examples of Black Hat SEO include
  • Gateway pages - Creating pages optimised for a specific keyword but all the links from those pages take users to content about something completely different.
  • Duplicating content - Creating a large number of pages that essentially hold the same content but presented in a slightly different way or order to try and project the website as larger than it is.
  • Copying content - Creating a large number of pages that essentially hold the same content as other websites but presented in a slightly different way or order.
  • Cloaking - Showing search engine robots different text than normal users would see when opening the same page
  • Cyber-squatting - Using sites which are obviously there to catch users who misspell words (e.g.
  • Keyword stuffing - Stuffing keywords into the pages of a website either in the text, image tags or through the title, meta tags and url in the hope that search engines believe it is more important than other pages on other sites for that keyword.
  • Spamming other sites - Creating excessive links on forums or blogs, especially ones not related to the subject of your website.
  • Excessive Bookmarking - Excessive use of bookmarking sites such as Digg and Delicious.

  • Hiding Paid links - Accepting paid links for your website but not clearly marking them as such.
  • Hidden text - Placing text that is the same colour, or nearly the same colour, as the background - so making it invisible to users but visible to search engines - to try and increase word count or keyword density.

  • Automatic links - Creating links which take users to other websites just because they hover over some text or an image.
  • Cross linking - Creating links between several sites (often unrelated) to try and get better ranking. Often advertised as Private Blog Networks (PBN)
  • Misleading links - Creating links which claim to take the user to a certain location but actually take them somewhere completely different.
  • Article spinning - Using software or cheap labour to write the same article slightly differently in order to create more links from article/guest blogging sites.

Note that the exact definition of what constitutes Black Hat SEO is very much debated as some claim it is any "dishonest" optimisation while others say it is only optimisation that may get you banned from the search engines.

As such three categories have become known:
  • White Hat - practices that are clearly honest and seek to make the job of search engine robots easier.
  • Black Hat - practices that are clearly dishonest and aimed at misleading search engines.
  • Grey Hat - the murky area in-between honesty and dishonesty, depending how you define both.

However search engines like Google have clear terms of use and a selection of penalties that they issue if Black Hat techniques are used. Beware anyone who tells you they have a system which Google cannot spot. It is only a matter of time and then everyone who used this system is toast!

I'm Tim Hill, a Search Engine Optimisation and Online Marketing specialist. I created this site to help others understand that SEO is not a mysterious black art!.

If your a newbie try the Getting Started in SEO page, otherwise feel free to dig around and learn more.

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