As an SEO consultant there is nothing strange in speaking to a potential client who has never heard of black hat seo. This is slightly worrying as many unsuspecting online business owners may fall into the black-hat trap and find their sites banned. Black hat SEO is at it’s base, various spamming techniques used to confuse and manipulate search engine algorithms. Some of the techniques are pretty old and only a fool would continue to use them, others are more inventive and technically complicated and it is not clear whether or not search spiders can actually weed them out.
I want to take some times going through some of these techniques, not and I repeat NOT so my readers can go away and give them a try but to help unsuspecting online business owners recognise them and prevent them from being used to promote their sites.
I was really in two minds whether or not to publish anything on black-hat seo as I did not want to be seen as condoning it. I personally do not use these techniques as I feel not only are they illegal but they provide no benefit to anyone, searchers, webmasters or search engines.
There is one thing to be sure of when considering black hat and that is what ever spammy techniques work today will be visible and recognisable tomorrow and they will not provide your site with longevity.
I highly recommend these guidelines when thinking about your SEO campaign. They are questions Matt Cutts (head of Googles Spam team) put to webmasters in order to guide their strategies.
1 – Does your content help the end user?
2 – Would you perform this strategy if Search Engines did not exist?
When all is said and done Google is looking to have the best results sit at the top, aim to be the best in your field and you are on the right path.
If you want to access Googles guidelines concerning unethical promotion visit:-
These techniques pose no real problems for search spiders and are 99% guaranteed to damage your sites promotional efforts, in fact some are laughable but unfortunately unsuspecting webmasters fall for them.
This is text that uses the same colour as a site’s background. The text is not visible to the naked eye but it is to search spiders. An easy way to spot this on a page is by simply pressining CTRL + A, which will select the whole page when it has been loaded into the browser. If you see some text there that was not there before then the page is using text colour the same as the background. This is an amateur trick.
The main point to try and remember here is that anything you attempt to hide from the visitor will be considered spam.
A technically tricky technique that is sometimes used is done through CSS. Most SEO experts agree that spiders cannot parse CSS. A CSS file may also be restricted by robots.txt and can be linked from outside the HTML page. I am not going to show an example of this particular method just incase
Another type of hidden text is hidden links. Links on a page that are to be crawled but not to help visitors interact with the site are always considered spam. This also applies to small pixel images used as a linking mechanism. If you do want to make an image a link, make it’s size at least 10×10.
I’m sure we have all come across this type of spam page before, loads of ridiculously small text, usually beneath the fold. Usually the spiders ignore tiny text but I would still highly recommend you stick to using a font of 3 (12pt) or above.
This technique is older than the dinosaurs yet some webmasters think they can use it to gain higher rankings. Do not over repeat keywords in your title and meta tags. Stay away from using irrelevant keywords as this will not work and will probably end in your site being penalised.
A very old trick was through using multiple title tags on a page, but today it would be labelled spam in a second.
Duplicate or Mirror Content
This is not strictly black hat and there is no evidence to suggest your site will be banned, however Yahoo are notoriously anti – duplicate content. Usually url’s with duplicate content are thrown out of the serps leaving the oldest URL in the main index.
My advice would be to keep every bit of content as unique as possible as simply duplicating content will not assist you in the rankings.
These are pages that contain only links to other pages or pages that contain only banner ads with no contextual content. The danger comes with regards to your site maps. I always recommend keeping site map pages below 30 links in order to prevent your pages being penalised.
Linking to a Link Farm is also prohibited and may result in you losing search engine positions. Remember the Good vs Bad neighbourhood argument?
Doorway pages usually have little or no content on them and have simply a link inviting the visitor to enter a site. The aim of the page is to boost the link popularity of the target page. The doorway page can also be filled with invisible text and links earning it even more brownie points.
My next post is going to look at some advanced methods. Remember I am showing you what to avoid and not what to do, these types of methods
will all surely end in your site being penalised.
Keep it clean.
Until next time,
Author: Tim (292 Articles)
Tim Grice is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 7 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Head of Search at Branded3, an SEO agency in Leeds.