Black Hat SEO - What is it actually?
The world of search engine optimization is manifold. Thus, not only many roads lead to Rome, but also many ways to the top positions of the Google charts. Several programmers, SEO's and marketing departments of this earth, wrestle daily for the first place to desired search terms in the search engine Google. There is a pure gold digger mood. With the increasing positioning, the traffic of websites and webshops is also increasing and this results in additional sales and increasing profit figures for many companies.
If you're wondering what SEO even is, I recommend reading this article first: What is SEO? This is how search engine optimization works in 2022!
But now to the crucial question: What is Black Hat SEO?
The term Black Hat SEO, like many things in our new digital world, originated in the USA. In the old western movies, there were always the good guys and the bad guys. The "good" protagonists, were the so-called White Hat's (because they wore a white cowboy hat), the "bad" antagonists were the Black Hat's (that's right - they wore black hats).
But what does this have to do with SEO? We also distinguish here between the "good" SEOs and the "bad" SEOs.
More specifically, this distinction is not made by the community or interpersonal decisions, but by Google itself. Google, as the operator of the largest search engine in the world, aims to deliver the best possible content (content) to its users (the people who "google"). to play off However, so that the algorithm and the employees of Google have a basis for deciding what is good and correct content, the Google Webmaster Guidelines.
So Black Hat SEO is the way to influence the Google algorithm, acting against Google's quality guidelines.
White hat SEO are therefore Google-compliant measures. If you are wondering what measures these are, I generally recommend reading our SEO Blog. Here you will regularly receive the latest tips & tricks and be able to sustainably strengthen your know-how in search engine optimization.
Why should you do Black Hat SEO at all?
Many black hat methods have achieved blazing fast results in search engines in the past. Therefore, for some search engine optimizers, it is the "faster" and "more lucrative" way to land in the top rankings. Thus, those who are faster in the Google ranking in front, benefit faster from inquiries and purchases of their target group.
Black Hat SEO - is this legal?
In principle, a violation of the Google guidelines does not lead to any legal consequences. What can be a consequence, however, is the so-called Google Penalty. A "Penalty" is a punishment. A Google Penalty is therefore a penalty in the search engine of the group.
In concrete terms, this means that Google has a number of ways to make life difficult for a website operator. If you mess with the search engine company, the consequences can be ranking penalties. These penalties take place in various degrees depending on the severity of the offense.
So it is possible that you are automatically removed from some search phrases or positioning by the algorithm, or by employees on the part of Google.
In extreme cases, you can even get completely banned from the search engine. A famous example of this is the Punishment of the automobile company BMW. In 2006, the domain was completely removed from the search index. Such a blocking usually lasts and of course involves severe economic damage.
5 examples of Black Hat SEO methods
Even if we as SEO agency don't use any tricks that violate Google guidelines, we do Nevertheless, it is important to have as much knowledge as possible about the most common Black Hat methods.
Here I like to quote from one of my favorite movies - Star Wars:
"Anakin, if someone decides he wants to understand the great mystery, then he must study all its aspects, not just the dogmatic approach of the Jedi. If you want to become a perfect and wise leader, then you must look at the Force from a larger perspective."
So even if we don't crave power, or even aspire to be the wise leaders of this galaxy, we still want to understand the great mystery of search engine optimization.
Now let's get started.
Keyword spamming is probably THE oldest known Black Hat SEO method. Keywords are always repeated in an unnatural word density. Google no longer punishes this with deliberate penalties. The search algorithm is now so sophisticated that these pages no longer even make it into the TOP rankings. Nowadays, Google attaches great importance to user signals and meaningful content. So if you don't manage to keep the user on your site for a longer time with good content and beautiful designs, you will simply no longer be successful in the search engine.
Doorway Pages have already found their place in our article before. Remember the phrase about BMW being penalized? Precisely because of so-called doorway pages, the domain of the car company was punished.
Doorway pages are subpages on a website that have been created exclusively to feed them with keywords (keyword stuffing). Here we are often not talking about a "more frequent" use of keywords, but actually keyword spamming. For example, on a page with 100 words of content, the same word was written 100 times in a row.
The clou here was that these pages were not accessible by users. So if you tried to reach this URL, you were redirected directly to a target page.
Hidden content is a violation of Google's guidelines if, for example, a deliberate attempt is made to integrate keywords into a website that are invisible to the user in order to deceive Google's search algorithm. This method is almost as old as search engine optimization itself. For example, text was placed on a background of the same color. The text was thus only visible if the words were deliberately marked with the mouse. Whoever still tries such a cheap trick nowadays can undoubtedly expect to be penalized.
Image Mirroring is a sophisticated idea - but meanwhile also known to Google and therefore no longer quantitatively usable. Image mirroring is about mirroring an existing image. Thus, new content is created and this is rewarded by Google rather than duplicates. If a product manufacturer has provided product photos to various online store operators, the one who could provide unique content was in front in Google Image Search. So it was the case some time ago that those webmasters who used this trick dominated the top results.
Another very sophisticated method used by black hats is so-called cloaking. Cloaking comes from the term "Cloak", which means coat in German. This is about playing out two different landing pages with exactly the same URL. A programmed script ensures that Google finds a page with a perfectly SEO-optimized infrastructure, while the user can also see completely different content. Since this is a serious and deliberate violation of the Google Guidelines, penalties can be expected very quickly.
However, Google itself doesn't think the idea of displaying different content to users is that bad. So it came about that the search engine company released a tool called Google Optimize . With Google Optimize you have the possibility to start a detailed A/B testing directly and officially to the users who come to your website. So if you're a service provider who isn't sure whether to communicate your prices online before someone else knows the value of your service, you can, for example, direct 50% of your website traffic to a sub-page that mentions prices. The other 50% are directed to a page with no prices. After a quantitative evaluation, a clear decision can be made after some statistical work.
These black hat methods still work in 2022
In the Google Guidelines it is strictly forbidden to generate backlinks in an unnatural way. So if you use this method, you are walking on very thin ice. In the past, and still today, a massive number of links are bought, usually from Russia, China, India, Serbia, but also from other countries. If you use this unorthodox technique, it is only a matter of time before Google removes the target domain from the search algorithm.
A Black Hat SEO now has several schools of thought on this.
Strengthen your own website with purchased links
The headline speaks for itself. If you know which links can be of great value for the website, you can have them generated by the website operator in exchange for coins. Since Google could not assert itself against this approach for years, this method can no longer be assigned 100% to Black Hat SEOs. Google now officially requires guidelines for paid links in the guidelines to provide paid links with the link attribute "rel=sponsored".
Weaken the competition with negative links
On the other hand, you can thus acquire quite a few links and have them point to your competitors' websites. This would have negative effects on their pages. Thus, the own page, if it is strengthened with White Hat SEO, would gain relevance in the Google search.
Google is aware of this problem and therefore has the Disavow Tool created in Google Search Console. This tool allows webmasters to "invalid" the URLs of websites. These are therefore no longer taken into account by the Google algorithm and can therefore no longer cause any damage. The regular examination of one's own link profile (Link DETOX) is therefore an absolute MUST for White Hat SEOs in order to prevent negative external effects.
The right location does the trick
One method that still works is to rent mailbox locations and list them on your website, as well as in Google My Business. Of course, Google prefers local businesses in its search.
So if you search for "SEO agency Vienna", the agencies which actually have a seat in Vienna have a considerable advantage. Of course, it is not only the mailbox location that matters here. If you use this Black Hat measure, don't forget important technical terms like IP, Geo Locations and Hosting. I leave the further course of such a strategy to your imagination!
Black Hat SEO: Conclusion
Just as you should abide by laws in the real world unless you want to face massive consequences, you should likewise consider this in the world of Google. Certainly, many things are possible and can even have promising effects for a short time. Sooner or later, however, this certainly takes revenge. For example, in the past, changes to the search algorithm, such as the Panda or Penguin updates, have had a massive impact on websites. The sooner you use unfair methods, the more likely you are to be penalized.
So, as a high-quality agency, we have clearly made the decision for ourselves. When it comes to the well-being of our customers, only the rule-compliant way is an option for us.