Dangers of the Dark Side: 3 Black-Hat SEO Tactics to Avoid

Don’t Let Black-Hat SEO Wreck Your Rankings.

Whether you’re doing your own search engine optimization or paying a company to do it for you, there are certain SEO techniques that should be avoided at all costs.

Proper search engine optimization will support your search rankings for months or years, but good SEO takes time. As a result, some folks may resort to unsavory SEO strategies in exchange for fast rankings.

Today we’ll go over 3 black-hat SEO tactics to avoid. While some of these tactics may lead to short-term ranking gains, in the long run, your rankings and user engagement will suffer.

#1: Brute Force – Keyword Stuffing

If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet, especially in years past, you’ve probably come across a keyword-stuffed page.

Something like…

“We are SunnyDudes, and we sell sunglasses! If you’re in need of designer sunglasses, cheap sunglasses, polarized sunglasses, or prescription sunglasses, we’ve got what you need. Despite the name SunnyDudes, we sell both men’s sunglasses and women’s sunglasses. Click here to see our sunglasses brands.”

Quite a chore to read, isn’t it? Search engines can tell it’s unnatural too.

This tactic started years ago, when high keyword density was actually a positive ranking factor. Fortunately for the human users of the internet, this technique is now largely ineffective and can even cause a rankings drop.

That’s because search engines are striving to provide search results that are truly relevant to human beings and their search queries. Content that is well-written and contains natural usage of keywords in relevant text performs best.

As an additional note, this type of “optimization” is off-putting to most users, causing many to bounce back to the search results. This hurts your site engagement and thus hurts your chance of making a sale or receiving a request for a quote. 

#2: Stealth – Hidden Keywords & Cloaking

Some inexperienced or unscrupulous SEOs find sneaky ways to rank a low-quality page, such as:

  • Hidden or invisible content, usually involving keyword stuffing
  • Keyword stuffing in code elements
  • Showing different content to search engine crawlers and users – this is called cloaking
  • Using a script to redirect traffic from a well-ranked page to a completely different page

Search engines generally don’t like it when you show one thing to the search engine and another to real user. Not only does it deceive the search engine, but it deceives users as well. No one likes to click on a top result in a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and end up on an unsatisfying, unrelated, or untrustworthy website!

Like keyword stuffing, this technique has been on Google’s radar for quite some time and won’t net much benefit, at least not for long. These stealthy strategies directly violate Google’s policies and can get your site permanently removed from their index.

#3: Bribery – Buying Links

Links to your site are a powerful factor in Google rankings, but it’s important to consider quality before quantity.

Admittedly, link-building is time-consuming. It takes time to create link-worthy content and it takes time to ask site owners for links (or wait for them to link to you on their own).

Some people want a quick solution for link-building and seek to buy them instead of seeking them out honestly, but most links formed in this way are considered unnatural by Google and are not worth the cost.

Don’t bribe a blogger with a free sample just to get a link back, and don’t pay shady directories to list your site with a link! Purchasing links might give you a boost in the short-term, but paying for backlinks violates Google’s policies and they may manually penalize your site.


Concerned about a past link-building effort that involved paid links?

We can review your backlink profile and help you disavow or remove poor quality links.

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White-Hat SEO: Great for Google and Humans

While this article doesn’t provide a complete list of black-hat SEO tactics, we hope that you can agree that black-hat SEO is generally harmful to your site’s rankings in the big picture.

You may be wondering, though: what makes white-hat SEO different?

White-Hat SEO

  • Uses keywords naturally
  • Accomplishes SEO success by putting great content in the proper places
  • Only uses redirects when necessary and appropriate
  • Creates link-worthy content and asks or waits for links from relevant websites
  • Works within search engine guidelines
  • Promotes a good user experience

Black-Hat SEO

  • Uses keywords unnaturally or excessively
  • Hides additional, low-quality content behind site elements or in code
  • Uses redirects or cloaking to deceive search engines
  • Buys backlinks from untrustworthy websites
  • Works around search engine guidelines
  • Provokes a bad user experience

Here at Zee, we are advocates of white-hat SEO. It is 100 percent possible to improve your rankings while staying within search engine guidelines.

Black-hat SEO’s promise of quick results can be tempting, but the risk of ranking drops, penalties, and possible removal from Google is real. The slightly longer wait time for results is worth the long-term success of your website.