7 Risky Black Hat SEO Techniques to Avoid

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SEO has been around for a long time. But about ten years back, when it first became a big thing, many wrongly assumed it was all about cheating the algorithm. So, people did everything they could to trick Google into thinking their websites were the best results for the search queries — and it worked for some time. However, the algorithm evolved, it got smarter, and these tactics became obsolete.

That said, some still try to get away with these, so there are plenty of risky black hat SEO techniques to avoid in 2022. And today, we’ve got seven of those for you.

Of course, not everyone uses black hat tactics on purpose. If you know nothing about SEO, and offer that promises a month’s worth of traffic in a matter of days will sound tempting to you. However, you could bring more harm than good to your site if you take it.

Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts here. If you want to attract more website traffic, you’ll have to work for it, and it’ll take time. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, and see what precisely black hat SEO is.

What Is Black Hat SEO?

All the SEO tactics that violate the search engine guidelines are considered “black hat.” Hence, if you’re manipulating the algorithm to rank higher, you’re using black hat SEO.

The search engines like Google make it very clear what’s okay to do and what isn’t. And on the same note, they’re clear about the kinds of consequences you might have to deal with if you choose not to obey the rules. If they catch you red-handed, your site will get penalized, you’ll sink on the SERPs, and you’ll get less organic traffic.

In essence, it’s not worth the risk. It’s much better to stick to white hat SEO tactics and only use approved methods. Although it’ll take time, you can still get to the top of the search results and stay there, using nothing more than these.

And now, let’s see what techniques you should avoid.

1. Keyword Stuffing

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One of the most common black hat tactics is keyword stuffing. It’s when you repeat your main keyword for the page excessively in hopes it’ll boost your rank. It’s an old ”trick”, and it’ll do the opposite of what you would like to your position on the SERPs.

When it comes to using keywords, the main thing is to use them naturally. If they feel out of place when you read a paragraph, it’s because they are, and Google won’t like that.

If you want to do it right, aim for a keyword density of about 1-2%. Of course, you can add alternative keywords, but don’t go overboard with your primary phrase.

2. Hidden Text

Another widely used black hat tactic is hidden text. Most often, it’s the same colour as the page’s background, and it hides from users behind an image. That said, some try experimenting with a font size of zero or positioning it off the screen. But it’s essentially the same thing.

And as you can guess, people use these to stuff as many keywords as possible for crawlers. It’s obviously one of the black hat SEO techniques to avoid, and we don’t recommend it. Crawlers are smart enough to figure out what you’re doing, and they’ll penalize you for it.

3. Duplicate or Plagiarized Content

Creating quality content isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time, effort and knowledge to do it, but you need it. It’s one of Google’s top three ranking factors, and you can’t rank your site high without valuable articles.

So, what do you do if you want to cut corners? Well, you use the same content on multiple pages, or you steal someone else’s article and claim it yours. Either way, you’re trying to trick the algorithm, and it’ll badly affect your position on the SERPs.

If you don’t know how to choose the right writing style or just don’t have any time for it, outsourcing is the way to go. You can pay an expert to write your blog posts, and these services aren’t even that expensive.

4. Doorway/Gateway Pages

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Some people try to trick Google by creating pages that target specific search queries only to use them as a funnel for another page. These are doorway or gateway pages, and by using them, you’re violating Google’s guidelines.

Every page on your site should have a purpose, and it should help your visitors. But, if its only purpose is to lead people onto another page, it’s clear that it’s not there to offer any real value. The algorithm will recognize this and sanction you for it.

5. Cloaking

When you use cloaking, you show different content or URLs to users and search engines. In essence, you’re providing a different experience for each party, and Google won’t be fond of you if you do it.

As a matter of fact, hiding content from crawlers is about the worst thing you can do. They want to see the same thing as people who visit your pages, and you shouldn’t try to stop them. Instead, focus on creating pages that offer good experiences for users, and the chances are that Google will like them as well.

6. Manipulating Structured Data

In white hat SEO, we use structured data to define entities, actions, and relationships online. However, black hat practitioners abuse it.

For example, we all know that positive reviews can boost your on-page SEO. Typically, you’d encourage your happy customers to write them and help you out. However, some people decide to write 5-star reviews for themselves and use them to climb on the SERPs and enjoy a higher click-through rate.

Of course, this tactic is pure deception, and sooner or later, Google will get what you did. They’ll penalize you for it, and you probably won’t be able to rank high ever again.

7. Manipulative Links

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And finally, we come to one of the most common and most harmful black hat SEO tactics — link scheming. Now, this is a tricky thing to talk about because it’s a big topic, and people don’t know much about it.

In short, you should be careful about any backlinks you didn’t earn. Of course, you can work on getting links through collaborations and outreach, but you shouldn’t push it too far. In the end, backlinks are editorial votes of trust from one website to another, and Google doesn’t take them lightly.

Here are link building tactics you should be careful about:

  • Irrelevant, unrelated sponsored links
  • Bloated link exchanges
  • Blog comment and forum link spam
  • Large-scale article marketing
  • Automated link building
  • Sidebar or footer links

Conclusion

And those were the top seven black hat SEO techniques to avoid. Although they might get you a higher ranking for a short time, sooner or later, Google may penalize such tactics if detected. If you mess with the guidelines too much, it could seriously affect your chances of ever ranking high. So, it’s best to stay away from these questionable practices and stick to what we know is okay to do. And always remember to follow your gut feeling when you engage with SEO activities and apply your common sense.