Black Hat SEO is a practice that could boost a page’s ranking in search engine result pages (SERPs), but also violates the search engine’s terms of service. Using Black Hat SEO strategies is risky for any business, because although it can temporarily improve your site’s rank in search results, it could also end up getting your site banned by the search engines.
The name “Black Hat” is actually a reference to old Western movies, where the bad guys typically wore black hats while the good guys wore white. SEO tactics can be considered “Black Hat” if they boost your rankings, but otherwise add no value to the user. While you might enjoy a temporary boost in traffic from using a Black Hat SEO strategy, it most likely won’t be worth it in the long haul, as penalties from Google or Bing could be catastrophic to your business. If you rely on search to bring you business, you don’t want to risk being removed entirely from search results.
While there are several different Black Hat SEO strategies that are commonly used, including cloaking and hidden text, we’re here today to discuss link building.
What Is Black Hat SEO Link Building?
Before we dig into the bad (Black Hat), it helps to understand the good. White Hat link building is the preferred process where a company makes a deal with bloggers, editors, webmasters, and publishers to add a link back to your site, a process some call “earning links.”
While Google can’t catch everything, you are really putting yourself at risk if you employ any of the Black Hat link building tactics, so it is best to avoid any such practices. For those who are worried that some of your marketing tactics might fall under Black Hat SEO, you can actually police yourself by checking Google’s and Bing’s webmaster guidelines. But to help you out, here are a few link building strategies that might get you flagged.
- Link Buying
Proper link building is a long and tough process, which is why it can be easy to be tempted into buying links to boost your SEO because the process is so, well, easy, but it is a Black Hat strategy that you’re better off avoiding. In fact, it directly goes against one of the Google webmaster guidelines that we linked above.
“Buying or selling links that pass PageRank: This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link”
Most recently we have seen many sites being penalized for product reviews. While this practice used to be used as a traditional PR strategy, many websites started gaming the system for SEO benefits, so Google has now directly said that you cannot exchange money or product for a followed link that will pass value to your site. Check out this blog post about the dangers of product review link building to learn more about this rule and its impact on websites.