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What does Black Hat SEO mean in SEO?

The type of search engine optimization you do falls into one of three categories:

  • White Hat - SEO that won't get you penalized or banned from the SERPs of search engines
  • Gray Hat - SEO that might get you penalized or banned from the SERPs of search engines
  • Black Hat - SEO that is highly likely to get you penalized or banned from the SERPs of search engines

  • So what is it? Here are a few examples:

    • Gateway pages - Creating pages optimized 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 from 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.

    ... and the list goes on.

    Basically anything you do to try and get your website to rank higher when it doesn't really deserve to do so.

    So why do people do it? Well despite what many will say to you it actually works. Many Black Hat SEO techniques will get you to the top of the search results but there is a catch. You won't be there for long.

    That actually doesn't matter to certain people. Lets say you have are the organizer of a music festival which will kick off 3 weeks from now and you've only just launched your website. Well bad you for being so disorganized, hope the bands make up for it.

    That's not enough time to get you top rankings unless you can pull off some sort of miracle where all the major press and all the lead bloggers suddenly start talking about you and give you a cascade of tip top links. Even if they didn't that kind of publicity would guarantee you a sell out gig anyway so job done.

    That means you have two choices.
    1. Use paid advertising.
    2. Go Black Hat

    Black Hat is still going to cost you but it might be substantially cheaper than paid advertising. It doesn't matter if the likes of Google send your website to oblivion when they figure out what you have been up to because by then you'll have the punters and it won't be long before the fat lady sings anyway.

    These types of websites are called 'Churn and Burn'. You set them up, get them ranking and throw them away when your penalized.

    My music festival website was a kind of nice, semi-legitimate example of Black Hat SEO however in reality 'Churn and Burn' practices are mainly used by scammers. By the time they are penalized they have fleeced enough people out of their cash and they'll be trashing the website as part of their track covering up activity anyway.

    Just for the record, no matter how legitimate the cause I don't do Black Hat SEO. I have the experience to make the paid advertising route much more effective so there's no need for it if you have a straight up need to rank tomorrow.

I'm Tim Hill, a Search Engine Optimization 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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