Black Hat SEO Tactics That Can Harm Your Rankings

Feb 1, 2022

Table of Contents

What is Black Hat SEO?
Why You Should Avoid Doing Black Hat SEO
Creates a Poor User Experience
It Can Harm your Search Rankings
Not Viable In the Long Run
Black Hat SEO Tactics
Paid Links
Keyword Stuffing
Doorway/Gateway Pages
Automated Content Generation
Hidden Text
Negative SEO

Some SEO practitioners and webmasters use black hat SEO tactics to increase the site rankings in the short run. However, the rankings soon disappear when the Google algorithms detect deceitful practices to optimize a website.  

You must have seen the villain wearing a black hat in vintage movies while the hero wears a white hat. The term black hat refers to search engine optimization specialists who use black hat SEO techniques to improve the site rankings unethically.

Black hat SEO tactics can often lead to a manual penalty which means Google bans your website from ranking. 

Without organic rankings, your site loses the most significant percentage of referral traffic source from Google.

You obviously don't want that to happen with your site? 

Read this black hat SEO guide to understand the different tactics used by black hat SEO professionals to avoid ruining your website's presence in the long run.

Let's begin.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Black hat SEO refers to the practice of increasing a page's ranking in the search results using techniques that violate the search engine guidelines.

What is black hat SEO
Source: SearchEngineJournal

For instance, some SEOs or webmasters use hidden text that is not visible to the users but remains visible to the search engine crawlers. 

The use of hidden text is an old black hat SEO technique that consists of repeated keywords to increase the relevance score of a page to achieve higher rankings.

Other than that, one of the most popular black hat SEO examples is paying money in exchange for links. 

Backlinks remain one of the top-ranking factors used by Google. Webmasters fall into the trap of spending thousands of dollars each month buying hundreds of links from untrusted sources to improve their website's organic rankings. 

However, buying and selling links is banned by Google, and if you follow the practice, your site has a good chance of receiving a manual penalty. 

Hence, black hat SEOs use strategies that go against the search engine guidelines to improve rankings in the short run. However, in the long run, the site receives a Google penalty resulting in a complete wipeout from the search engine results. 

Black hat SEO is also referred to as negative SEO when some SEOs use a combination of spammy negative SEO tactics to reduce the rankings of their competitor domains.

Why You Should Avoid Doing Black Hat SEO

Anything that does not please the search engines is something you should definitely avoid doing. 

Search engines hate black hat SEO, and you can quickly lose your business trust by following black hat SEO practices.

Here are some of the top reasons why you should avoid doing black hat SEO:

Creates a Poor User Experience

Black hat SEO results in a poor user experience, making a business look untrustworthy. 

For example, using keyword stuffing can degrade the page's readability, resulting in a bad UX. 

black hat SEO leads to bad user experience

Moreover, publishing many low-quality articles targeting exact match keywords and ignoring the topic relevance also creates a poor user experience leading to a high bounce rate.

It Can Harm your Search Rankings

When you start using black hat SEO, you might see a quick jump in rankings, but you will always lose all your rankings and traffic in the long run. 

Websites that follow black hat SEO techniques often see a tremendous decline in rankings and traffic that completely wipes out their entire domain presence in the search engine leading to enormous loss of revenue.

It makes no sense to spend money doing things that the search engine hates.

Not Viable In the Long Run

In the world of SEO, clients want quick results, and SEO agencies find it harder to convince the clients to wait for a period of 12-18 months to see results. 

Therefore, they engage in doing black hat SEO strategies to show quick wins to the clients in the short run. 

However, the continued practice ruins the website in the long run until it reaches a stage when the site completely loses its rankings. 

Black Hat SEO Tactics

Here are the top black hat SEO tactics that you should avoid:

Creating links in exchange for money violates the search engine guidelines. You should not pay anyone to gain a backlink to your site. 

You cannot exchange goods or services in exchange for links or offer a free product in exchange for writing a product review and including your link in it.

Google clearly mentions link schemes such as these in its Webmasters guidelines.

If you are building hundreds of low-quality, unnatural, irrelevant, and spammy links to your domain in exchange for money, then you are probably inviting a Google link spam penalty.

If you violate Webmaster's guidelines with artificial link schemes, then Google might count this as an attempt to manipulate your site rankings and apply a manual link spam penalty. 

You can detect such a penalty by navigating to Search Traffic -> Manual Actions section in your Search Console account.

A manual penalty means your site loses all the rankings and traffic till a period when you remove all the unnatural links pointing to your site and submit a disavow request.

Google Disavow Links

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing refers to the practice of including a bunch of keywords unnaturally within the content with the intention to raise the search rankings. 

The inclusion of keywords unnaturally results in a negative user experience and can decline your search engine rankings. 

For instance, if you are trying to rank for the keyword 'custom logo coffee mugs,' an unnatural keyword-stuffed sentence might be:

We provide custom logo coffee mugs. Browse our range of custom logo coffee mugs. Buy custom logo coffee mugs at a discount. Contact our custom logo coffee mugs support. 

Obviously, the text sounds unnatural and results in a poor user experience. Therefore, you should always offer high-quality content on your site without unnaturally stuffing your page with many keywords.


Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content or URLs to search engines and users. 

Search engines state that the pages you create should serve the same HTML and content to the humans and the search engines. There should not be any difference between the two.

If you are presenting different content to the humans and the search engine bots, this is a violation of the search quality guidelines. 

what is cloaking
Source: Delante

Doorway/Gateway Pages

A doorway or a gateway page is specifically designed and optimized to rank for particular search queries. 

A combination of several doorway pages funnels users to a specific page. When users land on a doorway page, they do not find any helpful information related to their search query.

Instead, the gateway page guides the users to a different page.

Gateway pages help a website improve its dwell time, decrease the bounce rate, and improve the time spent on the website. The search engines measure all these metrics to judge the value of a site.

Therefore, having doorway pages on your site serves to improve your website metrics. But it still degrades the user experience and is considered a black hat SEO tactic by the search engines because the methods used to improve website metrics are unethical.

Automated Content Generation

Producing well-researched and quality content takes time and money. 

Webmasters and SEOs take the easiest route and engage in automatic content creation to produce content using article rewriting software.

Content produced using a content creation tool is often a cut, copy, paste from different content pieces on the same topic. 

Publishing content rewrites using automated tools results in a negative user experience because the content hardly makes any sense and frustrates the user.

The sole purpose of automated content generation is to rank on Google for several search queries by producing large-scale content pieces on several exact match keyword combinations on the same topic. 

Automated content pieces do not last long, and your site quickly loses all its rankings since the search engines count this as a black hat SEO method.

Hidden Text

Webmasters use hidden text to add excessive keywords to the web page to inflate site rankings artificially. 

Hidden text is a type of cloaking because you present different content to the search engine bots and the users. 

Search engine bots can see the content which remains hidden from the humans. 

For instance, using white text color in a white background can make the content hidden from the users while the search engine crawlers can still read it. 

Here are some of the common ways to use hidden text:

  • Locating text behind an image.
  • Hiding text by matching the text color with the background color.
  • Keeping the font size 0.
  • Hiding links in small characters such as hyphens, commas, or full stops.
  • Using a combination of CSS styles to position text off-screen.

what are hidden links
Source: Medium

Negative SEO

Negative SEO happens when someone tries to steal your website traffic by applying black hat SEO tactics. 

For instance, your competitors can build thousands of unnatural links pointing to your site, which might hurt your site rankings and promote your competitor's domain.

Some of the tactics used for negative SEO are:

  • Creating duplicate copies of your website content and publishing them on many websites.
  • Building tons of low-quality and unnatural links to your domain.
  • Hacking a website so that Google removes your website from the SERP until you get your website cleaned up.

Therefore, it is crucial to keep an eye on negative SEO so that it does not hamper your website's organic presence.


Black hat SEO is an unethical practice consisting of several spammy tactics. 

You should stop doing black hat SEO because it can literally kill your SEO campaign. The time and money you invest in doing black hat SEO can otherwise be spent producing well-researched, high-quality, valuable content for the users. 

Search engines always consider user experiences as one of the crucial metrics to rank a website. 

From content to links to website speed, you should always aim to offer the best experience to the users to make search engines love your website.

Adam Krzywda
SEOptimer's CEO and venerable leader. Adam has a wealth of experience across Digital Marketing, SEO and software, and enjoys sharing his learnings from growing SEOptimer to an audience of over 200,000 monthly users.
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