Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on September 2nd, 2009

Black Hat SEO Explained

When it comes to SEO practices, you want to be as ethical as possible. You also want to rank as high as you can. Sometimes referred to as “search engine spamming”, black hat SEO techniques attempt to exploit the search engine rankings with keyword stuffing, illegal link building, and spam.

Although there is no concrete definition for “black hat SEO”, it is generally understood to be anything that would be considered an unethical practice of SEO. Funny thing is, ethics can be subjective, making black hat subjective. This results in the thought that there are varying shades of “hats” that exist. It is important to always use ethical practices.

Search engines differ in their standards for what are acceptable SEO practices. Some base it on how your practices impact others, with an anything goes clearance on your own site. Others insist that your content be beneficial to the viewer, both on and off site. Others suggest that anything causing your SERP ranking to be “unnaturally” high a no no.

Generally used as a short run solution, common “black hat techniques” include, keyword stuffing, invisible texting, link farms and improper use of doorway pages. They’re considered to be short run use because, once you’re caught, you can be penalized by a search engine or even banned.

Black hat techniques seem tempting, but watch out. Black hat is the gateway drug to SEO’s dark underworld. I’m sure Vader felt like he was trying to get ahead, but once you get the ball rolling with the dark side, pretty soon you’re breathing heavy and chopping off people’s hands.

Are there commonly used techniques that may fall under black hat’s dark shadow and shouldn’t? Perhaps a technique has a bad rep and you want to advocate it. Please confess with feedback on these or other black hat SEO thoughts.