The Truth About ‘Black Hat SEO’

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The odds are that you’ve run into terms such as “black hat” and “white hat” SEO as you’ve worked to optimize your website. And while you probably understand that “black hat SEO” is generally considered negative and “white hat SEO” is deemed to be good, you may not know precisely why black hat SEO is harmful and what tactics make it so. 

We’re here to help. 

Black hat SEO refers to the strategies and techniques that are used to get better search rankings, all while breaking search engine rules. Perhaps the most diabolical factor of black hat SEO is that it isn’t aimed for the actual searcher—these techniques focus solely on gaming search engine algorithms to get your website “better” results as quickly as possible. And while some black hat SEO tactics may boost your rankings for a little while, in the long run, dabbling in this dark side will only hurt your web presence in the long run.  

So, what are some of these black hat SEO techniques to avoid?


Much like its name, is the practice of showing one thing to site visitors and another to search engines (and thus hiding the site’s true intentions). For example, someone visiting your site may be viewing an image, while search engine crawlers are seeing hidden text and links in the HTML. Websites using black hat SEO tactics could use this technique to insert keywords without a searcher’s knowledge. A Black Hat Methodologist does this to rank for a variety of search terms, even ones that are irrelevant to their content, in the hopes of boosting their site’s ranking overall.

Takeaway: Focus on adding the quality content and tags on the topics that your ideal users are searching for. 

Keyword Stuffing

In the same vein as cloaking, keyword stuffing is when websites plug in multiple similar keywords or keyword phrases numerous times into a page of content, all in the hopes of boosting rankings. Instead of helping, however, Google recognizes that too-often repeated words or phrases as keyword stuffing and penalizes the website accordingly.

Takeaway: Instead of stuffing several keyword phrases into your copy multiple times, pick one main key phrase to focus on and use it sparingly—mentioning it about two to three times naturally throughout a piece of optimized, quality content is all you need. 

Paid Links and Link Farms

Google states on its website that “any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.” Paying another site to link to your content isn’t an organic way to grow traffic, and Google penalizes accordingly for this practice.

Link farms also exploit search engine rankings by existing solely for link building. Each link on such a site leads to another page they want to boost the rankings of. Think of a link farm as a spider web of low-quality links and content. Being included within a link farm is never a good thing—because once it is found out by Google, the whole web is penalized.

Takeaway: Don’t pay for your links and instead grow them by investing in quality relationships with authoritative sources, which will allow their links on your page.   

“Bait and Switch”

This tactic is much like leading a dog in with a yummy treat and then swapping that treat out for a carrot. Websites will use “bait and switch” to draw searchers in with a landing page topic that is relevant to the searcher (but not to the website) and then promptly switch that content out for something more relevant to the site once that page is ranking on Google. Even though it seems like this black hat tactic is too obvious and absurd to be still used today, sadly, it prevails.

Takeaway: Don’t do this. Always opt for creating quality content that is relevant and can live on your site for a nice, long while.  

Black hat SEO tactics can get your website heavily penalized and even banned from Google and other search engines. If you want to build a website that ranks well and lasts the rigorous tests of the Google algorithms, stick with white hat SEO tactics. Having quality content, doing keyword research, using appropriate keywords to optimize that content, adding in backlinks from authoritative sources, focusing on the searcher first, and taking a long-term (not a short-term) approach to optimization will always provide your website with the KPIs your dealership is looking for. 

Olivia Pope wears the white hat meme

By avoiding the dark side and sticking to the light, you’ll be able to steer clear of using any shady black hat SEO tactics in your website optimization strategy. And if you’d like any assistance or would like to learn more about black hat SEO tactics and how to avoid them, the team at Dealer Authority is here to lend you a hand. We always wear the white hat.

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