I have spent a lot of time outlining the right things to do for SEO – things that are typically called White Hat SEO. Some of the practices I have written about would even lean a bit towards the Gray Hat arena. I have even discussed the 3 different hats of a search engine optimizer. But I have never outlined Black Hat SEO Practices. These are content practices, techniques, or methodologies that are sure to get your blog or web site banned from one, or all, of the major search engines. I list these here to help draw the line between what is acceptable, and what is not acceptable to the search engines. I do not list these techniques to advocate Black Hat practices. Use These Techniques At Your Own Risk!
This is when a false public relations campaign or fake social media in the blogosphere generate increased attention to a site, blog, or wiki.
* Livingston Buzz – Astroturfing on the Dark Side of the Moon
2. Buying Expired Domains
Domains that have expired can carry a large page rank. By purchasing the domain, throwing up repetitive content, and linking to your other web sites and domains, you can use link juice to distribute the page rank to those other sites.
Cloaking is when a site is designed to show one set of content to your users, while showing a completely different set of content to crawlers, robots, and spiders. This is considered misrepresenting your content.
4. Comment Spamming
This method is implemented by leaving comments on sites with high PageRanks. These comments can be in the form of blog comments, guestbook entries, forum submissions, wiki pages, etc. The comments are filled with high density keywords, and have links back to the spamming site.
5. Doorway Pages
A doorway page is a “fake” page that the user will never see. It is purely for search engine spiders, and attempts to trick them into indexing the site higher. This method is dependent on useragent sniffing.
6. Fake CEO / Celebrity Avatars
This is when a blogger or forums user registers as if they are a person if significance, i.e. a CEO or celebrity. These people leave damaging messages that can sway a user in a specific direction about a product or service. This can swing the other way. A Celebrity or high level executive can act as an anonymous user to leave disparaging remarks about another person, company, or product, drive traffic to their site, and ultimately increase sales.
* CopyWrite, Ink – Silencing Crisis: Whole Foods Market, Inc.
7. Google Bombing
This is accomplished by creating links on multiple sites linking to the same page with the same text. The text link may not necessarily be relevant to the linked site, thus creating the Google Bomb. The most common Google Bomb can be seen by searching “miserable failure” and seeing sites for George Bush appear at the top of the results page.
8. Google Bowling
Google is penalizing (or even banning) sites that purchase site-wide links. A site-wide link is a link that is on every page of the entire site. Google Bowling is buying site-wide links as a competitor to get them banned.
* Web Pro News – Google Bowling: How Competitors Can Sabotage You; What Google Should Do About It
9. Invisible Text or Hidden Text
When multiple web sites are built by the same person or company, with similar content, with links pointing back and forth between them, in an attempt to increase each others’ page ranks.
11. Keyword Stuffing
Filling your page with long lists of keywords in an attempt to rank higher for those words. You don’t view this as high quality content, and neither will Google. This method is typically accompanied with the Hidden Text and Redirecting black hat methods.
12. Link Farming
Another name for a link farm is a free-for-all site. The objective of these sites is strictly to generate inbound links to your site at any cost. This will typically work in the short term, but hurt your site (or get it banned) long-term.
These kinds of sites are also known as mutual admiration societies.
Redirects are commonly used along with doorway pages, or spam pages filled with advertising. They are designed to take a user to a page that they did not want to go to. These can be both server side redirects, or client side redirects. Vicious redirect pages often get the user into an infinite loop that are difficult to break from.
14. Scraper Sites
Also known as Made-for-AdSense Sites, these pages are similar to spam pages, except that they are designed to scrape search engine results and dynamically “create” content pages. These are also used in conjunction with do
15. Selling PageRank
Sites can explicitly sell “advertising” (read inbound links) to your site. This essentially distributes some of the PageRank to the newly linked site, and its position in search engine results pages. This has been in the news a lot lately. Google has dropped the PageRank of anyone doing this. Both the buyer and seller of the link are dropped in PageRank.
16. Shill Blogs, Spam Blogs, or Splogs
Spam Blogs are when one person is paid to act as a fan for those who hired them. Generating a source of positive feedback and link sharing will increase inbound traffic and PageRank. These methods are similar in effect to a link farm.
* Business Week – Wal-Mart’s Jim and Laura: The Real Story
17. Spam Pages
Spam Pages are web pages that rank well for specific keywords, but actually hold no content. They are typically full of advertisements, listings to other sites, or are part of a pay-per-click scam.
18. Sybil Attacks
When a single user creates multiple identities to generate additional traffic. This could be in the form of multiple web sites with similar, if not identical, content. This also could be in the form of multiple social bookmark accounts, multiple comments, etc.
19. Wiki Spam
Wikis, just like blogs, are intended to be an easy way to create and organize content for non-developers (read anyone). But the distributed and open editability of wikis make the susceptible to spamming. By placing links in wikis back to the spam site, you hijack the link juice of the wiki, pass the page rank on, and increase results frequency. The subject of the wiki page is typically irrelevant. This is why large wikis like wikipedia have added the nofollow attribute to all of their links.
Are there any other Black Hat SEO techniques that you know of? Any other Black Hat resources that you know of? What do you think of Black Hat SEO? Let me know what you think by leaving me a comment.