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There are many types of SEO that can increase your ranking, but there are some things you need to avoid that will decrease your ranking, or result in a penalty.

When building a brand or developing a website, you always want to take all of the steps that will make sure you are doing everything correctly.

Never try to skip a step, or cheat, as it will only slow things down, and end badly.

In this guide, we are going to be talking about types of Black Hat SEO, and how to avoid doing it.

What Is Black Hat SEO?

Black Hat SEO refers to the process of trying to cheat to receive a higher search engine ranking.

It is very unethical, and can result in receiving a penalty from Google, and a large decrease in search engine traffic & rankings.

Using Black Hat techniques can also tarnish your brand, giving you a bad reputation.

You must avoid all of the following strategies when optimizing your website, as they may result in losing your search engine rankings.

Why Should You Avoid Black Hat SEO?

In the worst cases, black hat SEO can result in having your website banned from Google and other search engines.

Google will not hesitate to give your site a penalty if you are using black hat methods, a penalty could result in having your site de-indexed.

Using black hat strategies will also give your brand a bad reputation.

With the amount of people that use Google to search for content every day, can you afford to have your website de-indexed?

You want to avoid using any techniques that are deemed as unethical or black hat, if you want your site to succeed.

Thin Content

Essentially, thin content is content that offers little to no value to the user.

Content that is not relevant to the user’s intent, provides no quality, and wastes their time.

This can include:

  • Doorway pages
  • Automatically generated content
  • Duplicate content
  • Pages with small amounts of text
  • Low quality affiliate pages

The most common methods to deal with thin content are:

  • Remove the page
  • Update it by adding high quality, relevant content
  • Redirect the page
  • Add a “noindex” meta tag to the page to stop it from being indexed

Try your best to avoid publishing any page that would be deemed as “thin content” to save yourself the effort of having to fix it in the future.

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing refers to the practice of over-using (or spamming) keywords to try and manipulate their position in search results.

These keywords will often appear in a list, or completely out of context and irreverent.

Over-using keywords will result in a negative user experience, which will make users less likely to return to your website.

Keyword stuffing can negatively impact your search engine rankings, as Google and other search engines can tell when keywords are being abnormally added to a site’s content.

If the same keywords appear too closely in your content, your website will effectively be demoted in search results and you will lose your ranking position.

Your sole aim should be to create useful content that provides value to the user, and appropriately uses keywords within the right context.

Examples of keyword stuffing can include:

  • Lists of phone numbers which add no value to the content.
  • Blocks of text listing locations, cities, or places that a web page is trying to rank for.
  • Repeating the same words or phrases an unnatural amount.

Here is the example that Google gives:

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content refers to a block of content that appears on more than one web page within the same website, or across multiple.

Search engines aim to give the user the most relevant and helpful search results for their search term, when the exact same content is seen in multiple places, it is considered unhelpful.

If the content on your web page is seen as duplicate content, search engines are less likely to rank your page in search results.

Duplicate content can refer to you copying other people’s content, and it can also refer to other websites copying your content.

To see if anyone has copied your content, you can enter your page URL into Copyscape.

This tool will scan your web page and see if the exact same content has been copied anywhere else on the web.

If another website has stolen your content there are a few methods you can take to try and get it removed:

  1. Contact the site owner and kindly ask them to remove it.
  2. Use whois to find the website owner’s name and phone number to contact them directly.
  3. File a DMCA Copyright notice with Google and other search engines to have the page removed from search results.
  4. Find proof of which site published the content first by using the Internet Archive.

Doorway Pages

Doorway pages are web pages that manipulate search engines by ranking highly for particular phrases and keywords, but provide very little value to the user by containing low quality content.

These pages are usually created to create multiple “doorways” into a website by having multiple listings in search results that go to the same destination.

They are bad for users because they block up search results, and often lead to a bad user experience.

Here are a few examples of doorway pages:

  • Multiple web pages which are indexed separately but offer more or less the same content.
  • Separate domain names targeting geographical search queries, but direct visitors to one page.
  • Pages with many keyword or link variations that only exist in order to rank in search results and direct users to other web pages.
  • More than one websites that direct users and searchers to the same content.

Buying Backlinks

The process of purchasing backlinks that pass positive ranking power to your site.

Buying backlinks can include many payment methods, including exchanging products for links, or exchanging money for links.

Trying to manipulate your website’s ranking by purchasing backlinks can be considered a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Doing this can result in earning a penalty on your website, which can lower your rankings or have your site de-indexed from Google.

Here are some examples of link schemes that can negatively impact your search engine rankings:

  • Using an automated service to gain links to your site.
  • Buying or selling links that pass ranking power.
  • Requiring a link as part of your website’s “terms of service”.
  • Link exchanges, for example “Link to me and I’ll link to you”.
  • Large scale guest posting with keyword rich anchor text.

Other types of link schemes include creating links that are not in context to your content, or vouched for by the website’s owner.

These are known as “unnatural links”.

Here are some examples of what can be seen as unnatural links:

  • Text based advertisements that pass ranking power.
  • Low-quality directory links.
  • Forum comments with links in the signature.
  • Paid articles that include links with ranking power.
  • Distributed press releases with links that have optimized anchor text.

You only want to earn high quality, natural, and relevant backlinks in order for them to effect your site positively.

Hidden Text & Links

Hidden text or links are simply sections of text that are nearly, or completely invisible to the user.

Hiding text or links within your content to manipulate your search engine rankings is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

For example, if you try to add an excessive amount of keywords into your content, and then make them invisible, Google will still see them!

This will result in Google penalising your website, or de-indexing it.

Text can be hidden in several ways, including:

  • Putting text behind an image.
  • Using white text with a white background.
  • Setting the font size of your text to 0.
  • Hiding a link by only linking one character rather than a full word or phrase.
  • Positioning the text off-screen using CSS.

When evaluating your site to see if it includes hidden text or links, look for anything that’s not easily view able by visitors of your site.

When optimizing your website’s content, it is important you make sure that all of your text and links are clear and visible, so it is not seen as deceptive.


Just don’t do it.

It will always end badly, and will ruin your chances of earning genuine search engine traffic.

When creating a website you want it to be user friendly, trustworthy, and definitely not deceptive.

If you are deceiving users, your site is very likely to receive a penalty.

Write high quality content, don’t copy other website’s content.

Don’t create spam, or try to cheat your way into ranking higher in search results.

Google and other search engines are smart, and they will know if you are trying to manipulate your search engine ranking.

While you’re here, take a look at our comprehensive keyword research guide, or our guide to local seo.

Please leave a comment below if you think there is anything else we should add to the article.