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Black hat SEO

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George Panayides

Digital Marketing Specialist

Black Hat SEO

Who Needs Ethics When You Have Rankings?

Quick summary:

Black hat SEO is gaining traction in the SEO industry, with many experts seemingly utilising these strategies. Despite the risks, these methods are proving effective right now. Particularly with the rise of AI-generated content where black hat techniques are dominating. Even when penalties are applied from Google, the impact may not be as detrimental as expected, with traffic often remaining quite high.

What Is Black Hat SEO?

Black hat SEO is the use of aggressive and deceptive techniques to manipulate search engine algorithms and rank content higher.

So, black hat SEO refers to a set of practices that increase a website’s ranking on search engines that violate the search engines terms of service and guidelines. Basically, it’s finding loopholes in the algorithm to gain an unfair advantage.

Example of black hat SEO

An example of this is Parasite SEO which has become extremely popular since the last Google update which is focusing on surfacing more real content from users and social platforms. 

Parasite SEO works through hijacking a high-authority website. Bloggers and SEO experts will publish content on the platform such as LinkedIn or Reddit to leverage its ranking power (Here’s an example 😆). Although this can be done in a very white hat and friendly way, right now it’s been taken over.  

In my opinion, black hat SEO is a short-sighted approach. However, I am slowly starting to get swayed towards it. Simply because it seems that experts are getting good results from black hat SEO without much penalisation. 

examples of black hat seo graph
Black hat seo definition: Black hat SEO involves aggressive and deceptive techniques that violate search engine guidelines to unfairly boost a website’s rankings.

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Should You Do Black Hat SEO?

This is an age long question. Now, I know SEO experts who can swear by black hat methods getting them incredible results without any penalties. And I also know SEO experts that will swear by white hats, and tell you black hats are to be avoided at all costs. 

Honestly, the truth is that black hat SEO can be done in a user friendly way. And not that I am endorsing black hat at all, but if you are not doing a little bit of it here and there, you might be left behind. 

What I’m trying to say is there should be a balance. Mostly white hat, but with a good side dish of black hat SEO. Probably a very unpopular opinion, I know. 

But if you are stuck doing white hat for so long and others doing black hat are overtaking you. Are you ever going to progress? I think again, this is where the balance comes in. 

By the way, if you want to know more about what SEO is, read my blog here. 

What does Google think of black hat SEO?

For me, the most perfect SEO strategy strikes a perfect balance between white hat and black hat SEO. Although Google recommends avoiding black hat, most of the time I’d argue if they can even tell. 

From what I’ve seen in Google results in the past few months shows that black hat seems to be dominating white hat seo. This is likely to be because Google cannot actually distinguish between black hat techniques and quality white hat content.

Although this may not last forever, it seems that it will still give you a very strong position on Google. Once your traffic is high, even when you cop a penalty it still stays fairly decent. 

For example, this graph shows a website that was doing programmatic SEO and mass AI generated content. Even when they copped the penalty, their site went from 1.6M monthly users to 155k monthly users. 

That’s not like it’s dropped down to 1k or 500 users. It’s still sitting at 155k. To me, that’s barely a penalty at all, and something you can work with. 

example of black hat seo website losing 80% of traffic

Types of Black Hat SEO Strategies Used In 2024

So, there always was and always will be black hat techniques. However, since the most recent Google algorithm updates, we’ve seen the algorithm totally taken advantage of. These are some of the best, and most prominent black hat techniques in 2024.

Parasite SEO

This is where you host your content on high-authority domains with the intention of leeching off their authority to rank quickly. Most types of content created here are highly monetised, AI generated and full of affiliate links trying to funnel to sales pages. 

parasite seo being used on Harvard website

Programmatic SEO

Automating the creation of web pages at scale based on data or templates. This can be used legitimately but often strays into black hat territory when it results in the creation of numerous low-quality pages designed only to capture search traffic (I’ve got a blog on if you should use it here).

PBN link schemes

Private Blog Networks (PBNs) are collections of websites created to build links. Sites will link across each other to share link juice. They often contain low-quality content and can lead to penalties from search engines.

Fake author pages

SEO experts are taking advantage of Google EEAT by creating fake social profiles, author profiles and pages to give an appearance of legitimacy or authority to content. They mislead users and search engines about the true source of content and can harm a website’s credibility.

Link farms

Link farms are websites that sell heaps of links with a huge list of websites that they own. They usually don’t charge much, because most of the websites don’t have much traffic or authority. Don’t get caught in these link farms, as they are high risk.

Comments spam

Comment spam involves posting irrelevant or promotional links in the comment sections of blogs, forums, or websites. This technique is used to create backlinks but is generally seen as a nuisance and can harm a site’s reputation.

Article spinning

Closely related to mass AI generated content. It uses software to rewrite existing content into new versions, to avoid duplicate content penalties. This can result in unintelligible or irrelevant content and sometimes completely factually incorrect.

Buying links

Buying links in mass from backlinks builders or websites selling links. To be honest, this is a huge grey area because unless the site gets caught selling links by being reported, I’m not sure how Google would know.

Sitemap heisting

A new age technique, I’ve covered more below. Taking your competitors’ sitemap, using AI to create a list of the same topics and mass creating that using AI in 2-3 minutes and posting it all.

Faking website speed

Faking website speed involves using techniques to deceive speed testing tools into reporting faster loading times than actual. There have been reports that you can show a white blank page before the report to speed up loading times.

Old Types Of Black Hat Techniques

Of course, I’ve covered the newest techniques in 2024. However, I need to make sure you cover some of the old but gold black hat SEO techniques as well. So here’s a list of all of the old ones that are still often used today.

Keyword Stuffing
Cloaking
Hidden Text or Links
Doorway Pages
Sneaky Redirects
Duplicate Content
Article Spinning
Link Farms
Link Buying
Comment Spam
Negative SEO
Rich Snippet Markup Spam
Automated Queries to Google
Creating Fake Social Media Profiles for SEO
Malicious Backlinks
Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO

Well, I don’t want to go into too much detail around this because I’ve covered this in a whole separate blog (white vs black hat seo) here. However, I will give a bit of an updated version. 

White hat is going to be your bread and butter. This is the stuff that’s going to last for a very long time and is going to get you permanent results. Black hat SEO on the other hand is going to be fast but die quickly. 

With that being said, I really believe that you can take small risks with black hat on specific techniques or areas of your SEO strategy. This might boost your ranking quickly, then let your white hat maintain those rankings. 

I am quickly seeing the white hat losing the battle against black hat recently, so Google needs to change something or SEOers need to adapt.

Balance is most important with white hat vs black hat SEO

This balance is really where the difference is made in the world of SEO. And it’s also going to make it extremely hard for Google to actually know whether you are intentionally doing black hat SEO or not.

I also think there is a fine line between white hat and black hat SEO. Simply because if you do black hat seo in a user friendly, user first approach, then does it become white hat SEO?

How To Recover From Black Hat SEO Penalties

Well, if you cop a penalty from Google for doing black hat SEO strategies, then you need to go back to the basics. Go back to your SEO foundations and quickly put a pause to your black hat techniques. 

What I would do is focus on updating all of my old content. Looking through Google Search Console and finding keyword gaps to add into the content and update it. I’d build out new white hat links and focus on my EEAT through HARO or news publications.

Sometimes, time is your friend with black hat SEO penalties

Finally, I’d actually just wait it out. From what I’ve seen, Google will give you a penalty but you’ll likely start climbing back in the rankings again over time. I’ve even seen pictures of some people’s rankings dropping to nothing, then after 16 months they start coming back. 

Remember, the algorithm changes so often. One change might drop your rankings but when they make another change in the future, it might boost your rankings. Time is defo your friend in this situation. 

sample of a websites rankings that have recovered from black hat penalty

Real Life Black Hat SEO Failures (The SEO Heist)

Now I do have to point out that Google will take action on black hat SEO when you flaunt it or gloat about it.

This is shown in the latest SEO heist case study by Jake Ward. He gloated on Twitter how he had stolen 3.6M in traffic from a competitor using mass AI generated content. He created 1800 articles in less than a few hours.

Well, this was short lived. Google picked up on it and low and behold their traffic has dropped from almost 1M monthly users, down to around 3,000 ish. Ouch. I wonder what the client had to say? 

However, this is a huge sign that yes, if you get caught and if you are totally obvious with it then Google will take action. This could also be a sign that Google is going to take more action towards programmatic SEO and the mass production of AI generated content. 

This is one prime example of probably many, so if you are considering doing black hat SEO techniques then prepare yourself for the risks that may come your way. I only think this got picked up the way it did because of social media though. 

example of the seo heist losing all traffic and getting removed from google

How Does Google Detect Black Hat SEO?

Well, as news breaks that Google has severed ties with Appen, who make up for their quality search raters to review content on the web it makes me think how is google actually ranking the quality of content?

And how the hell are they finding out if sites are doing white hat or black hat SEO. Realistically, I’m not sure how accurately they are able to distinguish between these two. 

Now, in the eyes of what Google will say is that they have sophisticated algorithms and regular updates to combat black hat SEO. Which is very true. And somewhat effective in some ways. 

Likely they will look for unnatural patterns in SEO and action on these. But like I’ve been saying over and over, it’s very hard for Google to tell whether or not this is done purposely or naturally? 

Conclusion

Well, to be honest I’d never recommend using black hat but let’s be real. They do work and they do work well. I won’t stop you from ever trying it though 😆. I think as a whole, a large percentage of SEO experts probably do use black hat.

Realistically, if you are not using black hat SEO for some of your strategies and techniques, you’ll likely be left behind and fall in the dust. Choose wisely, but at least test the waters so you don’t fall out of the industry.

So much is changing right now though, and Google has specifically said it’s working on ways to combat AI spam and parasite SEO. So this is going to be very interesting to see where we are at in a few months.

The SEO world is always changing, and with that black hat SEO does too. It’s exciting as when an algorithm update happens, so does the opportunity for a new black hat SEO technique.

Watch this space. Comment your thoughts!

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About The Author

George Panayides is a digital marketing specialist, focusing on SEO, Google ads, Social media marketing, website development and link building. He’s looking to help other freelancers or business owners become a master in their industry and move towards a better, more successful future.

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Hey, it's George. I'm giving away my marketing secrets (because apparently, I'm just that nice 🙄). You can thank me by linking to my content ha ha.

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