I’ve not heard of “black hat” SEO. What is it and why should I be concerned about it?

Think back to the days of the early westerns where the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats. This is how the term “black hat” vs. “white hat” SEO came to be named. 

Black hat SEO is performed by companies who can guarantee #1 rankings. They employ questionable and risky tactics that trick the search engines into ranking a page of your website, which is a violation of SEO best practices and most search engines’ webmaster guidelines. These kinds of tactics are dangerous and can get a website slapped with a manual penalty or even banned from the search engines all together.

Examples of black hat (and even gray hat) tactics include, but are not limited to:

  • Page jacking – copying (exactly) everything on a high-ranking page and then redirecting traffic to another site
  • Cloaking – using one version of the website for search engines to index but serving another page to the general public
  • Keyword stuffing – overusing keywords within content in an attempt to increase keyword density on a web page so that it can rank higher
  • Link and directory farming – building high volumes of links (whether paid or free) from directories or link farms with the intent to trick the search engines into believing that your site has high domain authority
  • Comment spamming – using the comments area on websites to add irrelevant comments which include a link to the website being optimized

We never use the above tactics and have long been advocates of playing by the rules, even though it may mean it takes a bit longer for our clients to see significant results.