Why You Should Always Avoid Black Hat SEO

shadow man in black hat and trenchcoat

Every business wants to appear in the search engine results page on the internet. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is what every business needs in order to get good at being in the results. While SEO can be learned and practiced, there are right and wrong ways to go about it. There is a rather unethical way to go about optimizing a website for a search engine. This is often referred to as Black Hat SEO. If you want to have a good standing with search engine trackers you’ll want to avoid black hat SEO. In this article we’ll discuss how to go about this.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Black hat SEO is a cheat route of ramping up a website rank. Certain methods used to work more than they do now, as Google and other internet search engines have improved their standards as well as their tracking. Black hat methods still try to trick the algorithm into reading a counterfeit rank position using various techniques. 

The term itself, black hat, stems from old-time films. Most often, in black and white movies, the bad guys would be identified by wearing black clothing and the heroes or “good guys” by wearing white. Hence the term “black hat” applies to many categories still to this day.

Why Avoid Black Hat SEO?

Even though it might seem like a quick fix to use a trick system to boost SEO, it can actually harm your search engine rank in the long run. These days it’s easy to spot things such as faulty backlinks and flag your site for doing such practices. This can put a damper on your internet presence overall, if you are not smart about it. The practice can even get you blacklisted altogether which can be extremely difficult to come back from– sometimes impossible.

Specific things that can happen when you use black hat SEO:

  • You show up lower on search results.
  • Site may be taken down completely from a search engine result page (SERP).
  • Potential legal consequences as it goes against SERPs terms of service.
  • Search engines constantly repair bugs and scope out new loopholes.
  • Black hat SEO cannot give you long-term results, which is the entire point of building good SEO on your website.
  • Overall it gives your site users a bad experience– they want value, not clutter.
  • A bad user experience means internet users will not want to stay on your website. This signals internet crawlers to determine your site is spammy or lacking actual content related to quality SEO.

Methods Involved in Black Hat SEO

Now that you know what it is and why it’s potentially harmful, how exactly do people go about faulty SEO practices today? And how can you see if you’ve been dinged for some type of penalty related to bad SEO?

There are two types of actions that can be taken against you for SEO penalties: manual and algorithmic. You can see each of these on a website rank tracker or tools that track SEO. 

Manual Actions

On Google Search Console you can view your website and if any penalties were taken by manual action. You can see messages that warn you of any unnatural links which could cause manual action to be taken against your website, and can drop your rank. 

Algorithmic Penalties

Google’s algorithm can detect penalties on your website. This results in lost traffic, changes to rank, or other negative impacts on SEO. You can check your Google Algorithm History to keep updated on any changes.


Blacklinks are when other websites share links from your blog or site in order to share resources, quotes, or other forms of content. These types of backlinks are often intended to be valuable, relevant to what page they’re being shared on, and routed to a trustworthy, reputable site. Backlinks can be a good help to your site, as well as a favorable sign of collaboration between two businesses with decent SEO.

However, one big part of Black Hat SEO is acquiring faulty backlinks, or “bad” links. This is when people either buy or trade backlinks to sites that are spam or that are lacking good rank from Google. Having a backlink to a crappy website can lower your ranking. If there’s an indication you bought irrelevant back links, you can get blacklisted! Avoid bad backlinks as best you can.

Other methods of backlinking can include: 

  • Irrelevant websites 
  • Spam websites from other countries
  • Adult sites
  • Gambling websites or forums
  • Spam messages or comments on online forums
  • Hidden text, keywords, or links in the website’s code

Why Are Backlinks Such a Big Deal?

Nearly 95% of Google’s algorithmic penalties are related to backlinks under your website’s index. Having too many bad ones will ultimately blacklist you. Not a lot of people new to SEO know this fact. Rushing into building a ranking through the use of buying backlinks is foolish as it doesn’t give very good instant results anyway, and will likely trash your site rank. 

Avoid Black Hat SEO — What is White Hat SEO?

Nobody is an expert on where to draw the link between black hat, grey hat, and white hat SEO. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for someone to learn the effective, responsible ways to use SEO. Most importantly it’s advisable to simply avoid grey hat (questionable practices on your site) altogether because they can border the line of black hat and if not, can sometimes become categorized as black hat.

White Hat SEO means you are upholding good practices in order to be found by search engines. It’s often built up over time, although there are steps to learn for basic SEO requirements on your website (view some examples in this blog about SEO content).

For solid content all-around, you have to give value to your audience in some way so that they stay interacting with your page. Content comes in many forms and is all valued by search engines, if it’s good. Blog articles, images, keywords, video, optimized meta descriptions, proper linking structure, readable copy, and other factors all additionally play into the pieces that make up a well-ranking website. Focus on the basics over a more sustainable timeframe and you can see your rank grow on SERPs.

Avoid things like:

  • Unnecessary web page redirects
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Pointless information
  • Negative web practices
  • Bad content (hire a professional if you can’t create good content)
  • Sketchy backlinks that are bought
  • Trading products for mentions or backlinks from irrelevant niche sites
  • Copying other people’s content, especially written content that doesn’t originate from your business

What to Do if You Can’t Avoid Black Hat SEO

If you still want a good site rank but are clueless about SEO or how to make quality content, you can always hire someone from a marketing company. This is the goal especially if you want to focus on running your business, not creating content 24/7. Don’t be cheap or outsource from foreign sites as this can be a waste of your time, money, and resources. Pay for the quality you want your site to represent.

Practice White Hat SEO

Always practice white hat level website creation. This will benefit you and your company in the bigger picture. Don’t try to cheat the system when clearly it doesn’t work well in your favor. 

If you need help finding someone to setup or help your Search Engine Optimization for your company online, reach out to us at Owl SEM. See why we always stand by ethical practices to bring the best ranking and ROI to our clients. After all, it’s why we exist: to help your company improve in a non-harmful way.

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