Black hat seo techniques

By Paul Morris
I hear SEO’ers (search engine optimisers) talking about dodgy black hat seo techniques. What I have not found thus far however is a reasonably definitive list (I definitely do not know everything about black hat SEO hence the word ‘reasonably’) of black hat SEO techniques.

Enter stage left…

(Note: This SearchMuse post is aimed at people with a good knowledge of SEO)

Keyword stuffing – involves selecting keywords you would like to optimise a page for and then stuffing the page ‘full’ of them. This could be as simple as mentioning your chosen word(s) many times on page or alternatively inserting them in hidden div tags or colouring them the same as the background so they cannot be seen by human visitors but can be seen by search engine spiders.

Doorway pages (I also include web page cloaking/ IP cloaking in this section) – are pages created solely for search engine spiders and are often created in bulk and stuffed with keywords you would like that page/ site to rank for. The doorway pages will have some type of Meta refresh or JavaScript redirect tag in place to forward to the relevant targeted page. A naughty search engine optimisation agency representing BMW back in 2006 got BMW temporarily penalised for using exactly this technique.

Link farms – Create a large network of your own websites (on different IP’s) and link them together (link wheels is very much in vogue) with targeted anchor text so you rank for targeted search terms.

Article spinning – A cousin of the above; article spinning involves spamming search engines by  rewriting the same article many times, and then either posting it on your own site(s) or syndicating it out to content farms.

Whilst content syndication is certainly not black hat, Google (and other niche sites such as Blekko) has started to hit content farms e.g. Google’s recent Farmers update. As a result content syndication via a network of content farms may soon become black passé.

Blog spam – A blogger post that creates no-value to the blog posted on. This is in turn duplicated, in a similar fashion, across many other blogs. The post is accompanied by a link hence again the purpose of blog spam is to obtain as many relevant inbound links as possible.

Buying links – This is the most common form of black hat seo with most (please do not ask me to define ‘most’) experienced seo practitioners doing it to some degree. You are essentially ‘buying a vote’ for your website and Google state this is not acceptable as it is directly trying to game the SERPS.

Splogs (the multiple subdomains technique is also included here) – Spam blogs are machine generated blogs that add little value to the web and are often created from RSS feeds cleverly overlaid with other machine generated content (and even interlaced with some poorly written mass produced human content).

These sites often make their money from Adsence or are used to in turn link to other sites (see link farms).

Scraping – often used, amongst other things, to power splogs. This technique uses spidering software that scrapes/ steals content from other sites. This content is then jazzed/ mixed up with other content to make it unique.

Hoaxing – tinterweb/ digital hoaxing is a way of faking news and using that news piece to generate visitors (for Adsense or affiliate marketing monetisation) and/or links from sites such as Stumbleupon, Digg and

DHTML spamming – DHTML stands for dynamic html and is a new funky way of using CSS and JavaScript together to allow for advanced visitor interactivity. DHTML allows you to organise content into layers and hence hide targeted content keywords beneath images (hidden from visitors yet readable to search engine spiders).

Link exchanging – Also called ‘reciprocal linking’; this involves you linking to mine if I link to yours.

Google bowling – Hurt the sites you do not like/ want to rank above. Essentially you try to lower a sites rank (by getting it penalised or banned) by generating it links from a “bad neighbourhood”.

Duplicate content – Duplicate content can mean a few different things however I’m taking this black hat technique to mean…

The process of creating many copies of the content on someone else’s website to confuse search engines about which one is the true author and force them into the supplemental results. Whilst this will not work for authoritative sites it can work for new smaller competitor sites and will essentially keep them out of the SERPS. A cousin of Google bowling.

Local listing gaming – using techniques such as false phone numbers or addresses to get your site(s) to appear more prevalently/ more often in local results.

Parasite hosting – Some SEO chaps have another meaning for this one however I’m using the following… hosting a site on someone else’s server without their consent; if that site is well ranked/ regarded then you inherit some of the love.

Social media automation – I finish with a technique that is not easy to define. Essentially though, social media automation is similar to blog spam (above) and means you automatically spam social media outposts with content that has links back to your website.