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What is Black Hat SEO?

In order to understand the difference between “white hat” and “black hat” SEO, you need to understand both how Google seeks to return results, and the types of results that they seek to return. Simply put, program robots and algorithms to identify human factors through various aspects of code, wording and networking factors. Therefore, they want users to see relevant content, that is easy to navigate, well-presented and generally “good.”

Of course it’s infinitely more complex than this, especially since Google only reveals a limited amount of information as to how their algorithms actually work. But, based on what we actually know, it seems pretty apparent that the best ways to achieve good search rankings is to create good, modern websites with good content. Again, in practice this is far more complicated, but that’s the basic philosophy for white hat SEO.

Black hat SEO, in contrast, ignores the obvious methods in favor of loopholes. A black hat SEO seeks out weaknesses in what we know about Google’s algorithm, and exploits them. Therefore, Google tends to identify these exploitative tactics and penalize websites that have utilized them.

In other words – you want to avoid applying black hat tactics to your website. Anything that seems to exploit a weakness, rather than utilizing guidelines, will only harm a website in the long run.

So, if your current SEO strategy involves the following, you’ll have some big changes to make.

Keyword Stuffing

This tactic involves fitting as many keywords as possible into both the content and meta data – repeating keywords, using random variations and ultimately muddying the content until it’s unreadable. The thought goes: the more keywords per capita, the more likely Google is to recognize my page as relevant for the term. Of course, this tactic ignores the fact that Google likes websites to offer useful information, instead offering virtually useless information.

Duplicate Content

Some webmasters identify high-ranking content and do something pretty simple – they copy it to other pages on the same domain (as well as on other domains), hoping to see more good rankings for the same content. This extremely outdated practice can land website with not only poor rankings, but 100% removal from Google’s indexes. So, make sure that you site features only features original content, and remove any content that already appears elsewhere.

Lots and Lots of Weak Links

Google identifies inbound links to your domain as an indication of quality content. After all, why link to a site that doesn’t offer something worth seeing?

Well, maybe they are paying you for the link…

Yes, as it turns out, Google identifies paid links, as well as links achieved through farming and penalizes sites with these sorts of “spam” links. If you SEO strategy includes heavy linking, you might consider changing that. In fact, the safest linking strategy is to let your content work on it’s own. In other words, create good content that deserves links. This way, you can achieve natural, high-quality links based on merit.

Attempting Illusions

Hiding images and text, or setting up shady redirects from other pages work to send Google signals that you’re up to something fishy. For example, you could use keywords in text that matches the background color to your website. Google sees this as a trick and will penalize you for it.

So, don’t try to trick Google. They are smarter than you.

Guest Blogging, Spam Comments, etc.

Guest blogging used to be a great and relatively benevolent ways to get high-quality links to your site. But, it turned into a bit of a monster – almost another form of link farming. So, you can actually get penalized for guest blogging if you do it too much.

Furthermore, leaving template spam comments on blogs, news articles and the like won’t help. Firstly, when users see spam comments, they get annoyed and skip them. Secondly Google recognizes this bad practice and counts it against you, not for you.