What is Black Hat Search Engine Optimization?
Black Hat Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to controversial SEO methods used to acquire higher web page search engine rankings. Black Hat SEO is often described as a search engine algorithm game technique. It uses aggressive techniques and processes aimed only at search engines that do not consider a website's human audience. Black hat SEO methods are generally considered to be unethical.
In the early days of SEO, many black hat SEO techniques were considered legitimate - albeit a bit aggressive. These techniques have since been abandoned as search engines published clearer SEO guidelines. While some black hat SEO techniques work effectively, they tend to offer short-term gains.
Examples of black hat SEO methods are:
Keyword Filling: Loading large lists of keywords into alt tags, metatags, and comment tags in text that is invisible to human eyes. This repeated flooding of the exact same keywords within a website is intended to trick search engine algorithms that read the keywords and rank the website highly in their search results.
Link Building / Farming: Publishing a website url on a website that consists of a link directory with many links to other websites with completely independent content.
Doorway Pages: These pages are indexed by the search result. However, when users enter a landing page, they are redirected to an unrelated webpage.
Invisible / Hidden Text: Insert long lists of white text keywords on a white background. This technique is considered spam, which can result in search engines banning those who use it.
The definition of black hat SEO makes sense in contrast to white hat SEO. Search engines are designed to direct users to websites that best match their searches. Metadata, tags, headers, inbound links and other data flow into search results and search engine hierarchies. White Hat SEO focuses on improving the accuracy of data points to fully reflect the results of website search results. Black hat SEO techniques are used to trick search engines into directing users to a page that appears to answer or match users' searches, but which may in fact contain independent content.
Search engine algorithms have adapted to nullify basic black hat SEO techniques like keyword stuffing. In certain extreme cases, search engines can lower the rank of the offending page or delete the culprit from search results.