Black Hat Link Building
The thing is that search engines regularly update their ranking algorithms, and a link profile can be a tool to help maintain positions. If you work only on internal optimization, it may not be enough.
With links from reputable websites, the project will gain additional link juice. The more SEO juice can be accumulated, the better. This can be a catalyst for rapid growth in organic search results.
1. What Is Black-hat SEO?
Ten years ago, the algorithms of Google and other search engines were weak. Some website owners exploited this vulnerability to achieve their goals. For example, they saturated a page with keyword queries and quickly ranked it at the top.
In 2023, this tactic almost ceased to exist, but interest in black-hat link building is not fading. Some webmasters still want to get results with minimal effort. They choose a quick and risky path rather than gradual promotion through content and external SEO.
Black hat refers to a number of optimization techniques based on the manipulation of ranking algorithms. Optimizers use them to save time on standard SEO tasks. For example, getting high positions for queries on a young domain requires at least a few months, and in some cases — up to six months. Sometimes, sites are promoted even slower, and the progress can take a year or more.
Not all website owners are willing to work productively for many months. Therefore, for them, black-hat techniques may be the only tool to achieve their goals.
There are many black-hat strategies in SEO, but at the moment, they may not give the desired result because search engine algorithms are constantly evolving. For example, Google has invested a lot of resources in the development of algorithms.
The main task of any search engine is to provide users with relevant content for their queries. If visitors see a doorway or a project with bad content at the top, their experience will be spoiled.
The search engine market has long been categorized, but each service is interested in retaining an audience. That is why Google is working hard to nullify the possibility of all black-hat SEO methods.
If a project is detected to be violating promotion guidelines, it may eventually be penalized. It will not necessarily be blocked without the possibility of restoring the position, but this scenario is also possible.
Therefore, the use of prohibited optimization methods is always a high risk. Even conditionally white-hat SEO techniques can cause a negative reaction from search engine algorithms.
1.1. Does it work now?
The answer to this question can be found in search results. Obviously, the black-hat methods still work if you occasionally see doorways or projects with an abundance of keywords on pages in search results.
Even after 20 years of active development, Google’s algorithms still can’t be called perfect. They understand query content well and, for the most part, offer relevant content, but there are inaccuracies.
Neural networks regularly struggle with over-optimized content, hidden text on the page, cloaking, and other forbidden SEO methods. The ingenuity of optimizers is endless; they regularly find a hole that allows them to get traffic.
Despite the nuances, we can say that Google copes well with black-hat methods. If these tactics could be used to break ranking algorithms, search results would be poor in most niches.
There is no need to use black-hat methods yet. It is better to gradually achieve your goals with legal methods than to risk a project’s fate. Especially if you are actively investing in it.
One of the main features of SEO is that the project can lose visibility even without the use of black-hat methods. But if you give the ranking algorithms an additional reason to block or downgrade, the drop from the first lines of SERPs can greatly accelerate.
Some webmasters are experimenting with projects created specifically for this task. But this requires free time and money, which can be better spent on the development of the main website.
Experiments in SEO are important, but they do not have to be aimed at finding weaknesses in ranking algorithms. Remember that Google prioritizes user experience.
2. What Black-hat SEO Techniques Exist?
Newcomers often spend a lot of time on black-hat SEO link-building methods, trying to reduce the time it takes to promote a project in organic search results. But, as a rule, this path leads to a dead end.
It is useful to gain theoretical knowledge about black-hat methods in SEO. For example, if competitors use them to manipulate ranking algorithms, you can complain about them and make the chances of successful promotion equal.
99% of black-hat methods have been known for many years. New approaches appear rarely because the core of promotion does not change much. For example, you could previously get high positions due to an artificial link burst, but now, algorithms analyze the link more carefully.
If the burst is natural, the site may receive some profit, but it is unlikely to be a dramatic increase in visibility for all queries from the semantic keyword list. The impact of links on the ranking is still significant, but the demands on link quality are constantly increasing.
Before using black-hat methods, you should think about the future of the resource. If it is an experimental project with a low budget and no prospects, you can spend a little time experimenting.
But when it comes to a resource with great ambition, which has a chance to be successfully promoted, it is better to use white-hat SEO. This approach will provide a minimum guarantee of protection from problems.
2.1. Automatic comments on forums and blogs
Years ago, forums and blogs consisted mostly of identical and automatically generated comments with zero usefulness. Site owners spent a lot of time moderating and fighting spammers.
Google added a new link attribute, nofollow, to prevent the link juice from passing. Now, algorithms see this attribute as a recommendation, but it’s still useful.
There are many tools in the public domain for automated comment posting. If you manage to set up the software correctly, the content will be posted without the webmaster’s intervention.
It is advantageous to automate the routine in SEO, but there is no point in posting comments without useful information, especially if they are published simultaneously on dozens of resources. Moderators are unlikely to approve them and may block a profile developed for this task.
It’s better to use crowd marketing and guest posting. Both methods allow you to regularly add links to your profile from reputable resources and create a natural link mass.
If redirects are used to move content from one address to another, there’s nothing wrong with that. But when the tool is part of black-hat SEO, problems arise.
Typically, redirects are used on doorways and other low-value projects created to generate traffic. Users see such resources in a search engine, go to the page, and encounter inappropriate content.
Often, redirects lead to an affiliate program site or a yellow press news showcase. The resource owner gets a profit from the redirect, and the user gets a negative experience.
Such projects used to be able to exist for several months, but now, it is difficult to get a similar result. This is a task of increased complexity, which can only be implemented with the newest tools.
It is better to avoid relying on risky digital promotion strategies and take a different path. Effective white-hat optimization tactics are required to get organic traffic.
2.3. Hidden text or link
Hidden text is a classic black-hat method. It was actively used 10 years ago, when it was easy to cheat Google algorithms. Webmasters added content to the page with a lot of keyword queries and got to the top.
Now, it’s not so easy to fool ranking algorithms anymore. The cloaked text leads to severe penalties rather than high positions. It is difficult and time-consuming to recover from the restrictions.
Therefore, it is better to develop a white-hat promotion strategy, which will focus on solving the problems of the audience. This approach will allow you to create useful content rather than waste time manipulating ranking algorithms.
Hidden links should not be used either. They may not pass on link juice because such links are not useful to visitors. There will be no clicks, and search engines may perceive this negatively.
2.4. Excessive keyword density
A significant number of repetitions of the same query in different word forms is used to create a high keyword density. Experienced webmasters know that Google algorithms sometimes like such pages.
But you should remember that Google Panda has been part of the main ranking algorithm for many years. It monitors content quality and penalizes projects that misuse keywords and other forbidden page optimization techniques.
Sometimes, you can see resources that use outdated optimization techniques, namely, keywords at the bottom of the page, in the rankings. This sometimes helps them get high positions, but such success is unlikely to last long.
Over-optimization, black-hat link building, and other risky methods mostly lead to negative outcomes. If the site owner does not want to risk their future, it is better to focus efforts on developing a secure promotion strategy.
2.5. Complaints about competitors
Some webmasters spend time not on optimization, but on the search for weaknesses on competitors’ sites. For example, they may order spammy links on freelance exchanges to weaken the competitor’s project.
The fight for traffic can be difficult, but claiming your competitors only makes sense if there is real evidence. If the project uses redirects or many pages are filled with keywords, it deserves a complaint.
But if the resource has no claims, there is no point in complaining. Search engine representatives may examine them for a long time without results. Usually, algorithms cope well with black-hat techniques and penalize sites without external interference.
Cloaking is the tactic of masking content when users see one type of content, but for search crawlers, the structure of the page is completely different. For such tricks, Google severely penalizes sites.
Cloaking can cause long-term blocking. It is not worth wasting time on it, even as an experiment. Search engines note that content must be the same for the audience and the crawlers.
An attempt to improve content ranking through manipulation is unlikely to be successful. The site owner risks losing the algorithms’ trust and reversing previous gains.
There are many tools for cloaking, which you can study in a few hours, but you should understand how risky it is to use them on the main project. Search crawlers can quickly notice violations and apply a filter.
2.7. Spam in micro markup
Structured data is created so that users can see the important parameters of search results. Google crawlers recognize them and better understand the page content. The site owner also benefits from using the tool – CTR in search results increases.
Structured data is always used as intended. That’s why search engines have added penalties for micro markup spam. For example, webmasters often set up a scheme with a rating, but you can’t put a rating on the page.
Search engine algorithms and assessors see the discrepancy and apply penalties to all pages with violations. You should keep a close eye on this so as not to miss the moment of problems.
Sometimes, the reason lies in technical problems with CMS modules. In this case, it is necessary to disable them until the issue is resolved. After updating, it is necessary to review the source code of the page with the help of Schema Markup Testing Tool.
2.8. Guest content networks
Some webmasters consider a private blog network the best black-hat link-building method. Certain sources refer to this practice as gray-hat because link manipulation does not result in a penalty every time.
PBN cannot be called a legitimate way to promote a resource because it is built on the manipulation of ranking algorithms. Private blog networks are created to pass juice to the main project through links.
If we are talking about posting guest content on authoritative sites with the addition of links, this approach refers to white-hat SEO. If the balance of anchors is maintained, there should be no problems.
2.9. Link manipulation
Link schemes can be different, but if they are created to quickly boost the link juice of the site, they cannot be called legitimate. It is better to avoid such approaches for projects with long-term promotion prospects.
Link building refers to all tools that focus on passing the SEO juice rather than creating natural links. Search algorithms also take link clicks into account. If there are none, the juice may not be passed.
Winning the trust of search engines is difficult, so it is more advantageous to disclose the positive aspects of the project rather than manipulate algorithms. There is no need to refuse sponsored links, but you should maintain a balance.
2.10. Content update
Content update is a standard process that covers most resources. It lies in the fact that the project team revises articles to update the data. This approach allows them to keep their positions in organic search.
But sometimes, the content update occurs according to a different scenario. The webmaster orders the creation of variations of one material and distributes it on different sites. This way, you can save money and get a few dozen links.
Obviously, most reputable resources accept only unique content, so this idea quickly fails. And the site owner runs the risk of wasting money that could have been spent on other tasks.
2.11. Link farms
Link farms were actively used when Google’s algorithms were easy to hack and get high positions in just a few days by using black-hat SEO. Now, this tactic no longer works as effectively as it used to.
Link farms are still being created in 2023, but the cost may not pay off. If your competitors have a more authoritative profile, you can hardly outperform them with a large number of links.
Search engine representatives have repeatedly noted that it is now better to focus on link quality rather than quantity. The latter affects the project only if the profiles of several resources are very similar.
Spam tactics can be implemented in different ways, but in all cases, they can only have a short-term effect. Google spends a lot of resources fighting spam, and it is quite successful.
Creating pages with a large number of queries or over-optimized text usually results in penalties. In some cases, search algorithms don’t deal well with spam, but that won’t last long.
There are severe penalties for web spam, which can ruin plans for website promotion for many months. Therefore, optimization should be done very carefully so as not to spoil the credibility of the project.
2.13. Automatic queries in Google
Automatic queries in Google are associated with cheating behavioral factors. Tasks are created on exchanges, where users are urged to enter queries into the search form and go to the desired site.
Cheating cues and behavioral factors are 100% black-hat SEO. For such actions, the site can be permanently banned. There is a chance to unblock it, but you must prove that your competitors tried to drown the project.
You should also know that Google is constantly updating neural networks. Therefore, they can distinguish the behavior of an interested visitor and a user who performs chaotic actions while browsing the page.
2.14. Duplicate content
One of the main tools to guarantee the promotion of a site in organic search is unique content. Competitors should not be able to duplicate it and make it more interesting. Infographics, tables, and interactive formats work well.
As for duplicate content, it works only in some cases. For example, it can be doorways, which are created for quick traffic and monetization at the expense of advertising with dark patterns.
Sometimes, duplicate pages appear due to technical failures of CMS or modules. It is necessary to monitor this because the appearance of URLs with similar content leads to dilution of intent.
2.15. Fraudulent pages
Fraud on the Internet is a very common phenomenon. Scammers are constantly inventing new ways to trick trusting users into obtaining personal data or access to funds.
There are a few scam pages in search results, but you cannot completely avoid them. Scams cannot be attributed to black-hat link-building techniques in SEO. This issue is related to law enforcement rather than search engines.
The general aspects of black-hat methods are of interest to many webmasters because the difficulty of promotion increases with each update of the core ranking algorithm. But it is better to avoid using such tactics and focus on secure promotion methods.
3. Why Is It Bad for the Website?
Newcomers to SEO often think that any means of achieving results is right. But this is a misconception that fuels interest in black-hat tactics. Any action that implies manipulating algorithms is doomed to fail.
As soon as the webmaster crosses the line, it becomes impossible to foresee the future of the project. Especially when it comes to cheating behavioral factors, link farms, or intentional large-scale spam.
In the case of gray-hat methods or sponsored links, there may be no penalties. But for using black-hat approaches, the project will be eventually penalized. And it may happen that there will be no way to retreat.
Black-hat SEO can lead to the following outcomes:
- A decrease in the project’s credibility;
- A sharp drop in visibility in organic search;
- Deindexing of pages;
- Banning without the possibility of recovery;
- Removal of search cues.
Search engine algorithms examine each case individually, so you cannot predict the outcome in advance. Sometimes, resources are banned, and the webmaster even misses the opportunity to add new pages via Search Console.
White-hat SEO, on the contrary, allows you to count on the long-term and successful promotion of the resource. Then, it makes sense to talk about effective competition and winning the battle for traffic.
4. Consequences of Black-hat Link Building
Each website owner makes a decision at their own risk. If the choice is made in favor of black-hat methods, you can only count on a short-term effect. But, most likely, it will soon be followed by penalties. Many webmasters are trying to cheat the system, but you should not forget about the huge resources of Google. Many engineers work for the company, and most algorithms handle tasks in automatic mode.
For example, over the last 5 years, algorithms have learned to understand the underlying intent of a query. Accordingly, they will have no problem finding text written in white on the page.
Also, the search engine has assessors checking the quality of sites in manual mode. Tracking their visits is difficult, and this information will not help restore the authority of the site.
4.1. Search ranking
The level of penalties imposed on a resource from black-hat SEO depends on the level of fault. In the case of PBN, the project may keep the pages in the search index, but visibility will be greatly reduced.
Web spam, scams, and cloaking often result in complete blocking with no appeal option. Then, any action will be in vain, and even a redirect to a new domain will be useless.
4.2. Short-term results
Currently, search engine algorithms work much better than 5-10 years ago, but they are still not perfect. Especially since some webmasters turn out to be very resourceful and combine several approaches to achieve their goals.
Getting a traffic flow using black-hat methods is possible, but search engines will definitely find a violation, and you will have to say goodbye to the project for good.
4.3. Bad user experience
It is behavioral factors that Google has been focusing on lately. It has a lot of means to collect data on visitor activity. Even without Google Analytics installed, the search engine will have basic figures.
The use of black-hat methods has nothing to do with a positive user experience. It is one of the important markers that allow search engine algorithms to conclude that a site has problems.
For example, if there is a redirect to a spam resource, the search engine can suspect a problem by the low duration of the session. And then, it remains to fix the redirect and issue penalties.
Good visit duration
4.4. Fake online profiles
The use of fake profiles and other spam techniques for getting links results in hundreds or even thousands of fake pages on forums and blogs, which can negatively affect the project’s credibility.
It is clear that profiles will not be created based on the same data, but you should not put the task on stream. It is better to entrust the issue to a crowd marketer, who will boost profiles and create 20-30 links per month.
As a result, you will be able to complete several tasks at once. The site will build links, but there won’t be a large number of suspicious links in the project’s profile. Crowd-marketing services are not cheap and need careful preparation to implement the strategy.
4.5. Hacking websites for links
Sometimes, users go too far in the pursuit of traffic and other benefits. For example, they may take advantage of security holes in websites to place links on authoritative pages.
This is not only harmful but also illegal. Not only can you get a site blocked for this approach to link building but also problems in real life.
4.6. The risk of getting banned
When a webmaster hears about a new black-hat link-building method, it is best to think about the outcomes first of all. Any manipulation of ranking algorithms will have consequences.
If algorithms find evidence of the use of prohibited optimization techniques, the reaction will be drastic. For any search engine, this is unacceptable. Penalties in the form of de-indexing, decreased ranking, or even blocking access for users will follow shortly.
5. Does Google Define Black-hat SEO?
There are many publicly available manuals that state that Google does not recognize the use of black-hat techniques. These statements are partially true, but for the most part, the site still gets penalized.
The algorithms’ reaction may not be instantaneous, but it certainly will be. In one moment, a project can be left without all the achievements accumulated over the years. Search engine algorithms are always focused on the benefits to the audience.
Google can detect simple black-hat SEO tools even after a few days. For example, redirects usually exist for 2-3 days. After that, the site goes to the database of malicious resources and is banned.
5.1. Google Penguin
The Penguin algorithm was launched back in 2012. In the 2010s, before that, webmasters were getting the most out of black-hat techniques. The value of Penguin is that it recognizes over-optimization.
The algorithm is now part of the ranking core. It is not developed without the help of others but as part of a huge mechanism. Therefore, after the Core Update, search results are mixed, and hundreds of resources lose visibility.
According to public records, the last update was released in 2016. The fourth version of Penguin fights even more effectively against resources that use spammy link-building techniques.
Penguin 4.0 reduced the overall impact of links on ranking. After that, many webmasters switched to tactics for improving behavioral factors. There are reports that the influence of this group will only get stronger over time.
5.2. How to avoid penalties?
It is impossible to effectively use black-hat methods and protect yourself against negative consequences. The only way to partially guarantee safe promotion is a focus on white-hat SEO.
Therefore, it is better to replace the confrontation with search engine algorithms with active development of the project and be interested in new ways of enhancing authority. If the resource is beneficial to the audience, Google will definitely notice it.
6. How to Find Opportunities for Link Building?
Creating a comprehensive link-building strategy can be difficult, but you should do this at the start of resource promotion. It’s also important to periodically update your tactics by adding relevant approaches.
Finding link-building opportunities is only possible through constant analysis of the situation in search results and the use of SEO platforms that automate a large amount of routine work.
You can develop an effective link-building tactic if you:
- Monitor competitors’ profiles;
- Find niche leaders who have developed with the help of links;
- Keep the website profile under control;
- Clean out the link mass on time;
- Keep the rate of link building at the same level.
The first and second tasks should be prioritized. Keep a close eye on changes in search results and analyze why projects managed to improve visibility. If there are opportunities for copying tactics, you need to take advantage of them.
You should also remember about creating unique content. It opens the door to building links to projects of all levels. If you use this tool regularly, it will bring a lot of benefits.
7. Links to Avoid for Quality Link Building
Google representatives have repeatedly said that a site’s profile should be organic. But if it consists only of commercial anchors and links that look sponsored, problems can arise.
You need to keep a close eye on the profile and try to make it look natural. Some types of links can hinder this task. If you do not use and promptly remove them, there is a chance for stable promotion.
7.1. Profile links and forum signatures
One of the most common consequences of using black-hat link-building methods is hundreds of fake profiles on forums. But remember, it’s all about quality, not quantity.
If several crowd-marketing teams are involved in the promotion of a project and do their work well, all the profiles can be authoritative. Then search engine algorithms will not have any complaints.
7.2. Paid or auction links
Paid links are not so straightforward either. Yes, search engines are against link exchange schemes. But they understand that there is sponsored content, and this is normal practice.
Google recommends tagging links in paid posts with the sponsored attribute. It is not yet known exactly how it affects the site’s ranking because research results are not publicly available.
7.3 Links from Wiki resources
Many webmasters want to get a link from the regional version of Wikipedia, but their effect is greatly exaggerated. Do not trust resources that guarantee access to the top because of the 2-3 links from wiki resources.
As for the negative impact, it all depends on the donor’s quality. If the resource consists not only of external links and regularly publishes useful content, there will be no problems.
7.4. Blog comments
Posting comments on blogs in bulk will not allow you to get a boost in search results. Even if you manage to bypass moderation on resources, Google is unlikely to appreciate such achievements in the profile.
But if you focus on creating quality comments and integrating relevant links into them, it will be beneficial. The tool will be one of the building blocks to winning the battle for search traffic.
The social bookmarking approach to link building does little to no good in increasing a site’s rankings. John Mueller from Google has repeatedly said that it’s an outdated method that algorithms learned long ago to ignore.
Social media page shares influence curiosity on the part of the audience, but the profits will only be indirect. If the activity on social networks allows you to attract new visitors and everything is fine with behavioral factors, you can use the method.
7.6. Links from article directories
Directory link building was once one of the main SEO tactics, but now, it hardly ever yields the desired result. Especially if the sites have a high spam rate and don’t pass link juice.
It is better to replace links from directories with links from guest posts and outreach. These tactics allow you to greatly enhance your profile and gain an advantage over your competitors who don’t use them.
8. What to Use Instead of Black-Hat Link Building?
When newbies are interested in black-hat link-building tactics, they rarely think about the recommended promotion methods. But it is better to abandon this strategy beforehand and concentrate on safe SEO.
Studying the theory of black-hat SEO is useful for the general development and recognition of prohibited optimization techniques that competitors may use. In this case, you can send a complaint and get the appropriate result.
It is better to replace black-hat approaches with a comprehensive tool, which will consist of quality content and safe links. The combination of these tools will allow you to get advantages in niches with any level of competition.
All the necessary opportunities for link building are provided by PRPosting. The service has over 44,000 sites of different topics for any budget. After registration, a webmaster can create a personal list of donors and add content for placement.
Articles are placed for the entire term of the platform’s operation. In addition, you can insure the posts for the selected period and get a quick replacement of links on the site with similar parameters in case of removal.
8.1. Black hat vs. white hat
It makes sense to compare black-hat and white-hat SEO in terms of their impact on promotion and security. But you should understand that the tools are very different, and black-hat methods can cause irreparable damage to the project’s reputation.
|Criterion||Black hat||White hat|
|Implementation of Google recommendations||yes||no|
|Protection against rating downgrade||no||yes|
|Vulnerability to competitors’ complaints||high||low|
|Costs||depend on the method||can be reduced with unique content|
The boundary between white, gray, and black SEO is very relative. For example, PBN often refers to both black-hat and gray-hat methods. It all depends on the interpretation of the particular source. But in the end, it all depends on ranking methods.
8.2. Gray-hat methods in SEO
Gray-hat approaches in SEO are all techniques that, in the opinion of webmasters, do not exceed the limit of Google recommendations by 100%. Yes, sponsored backlinks cannot be considered a complete evil.
Gray-hat methods include tiered links, link exchange schemes, and sponsored content created solely to enhance a site’s profile. It is up to every site owner whether or not to use such methods.
It is not difficult to figure out what black-hat SEO methods are, but it is much harder to give up the easy path to getting traffic and visibility. You should remember that black-hat approaches can only bring temporary profits.
It’s better to put all your efforts into building an organic link profile and content that covers user queries. This ensures protection from ranking problems.
What is link building by black-hat methods?
It is a series of optimization techniques based on manipulating ranking algorithms. They are prohibited by search engines.
What are the consequences of black-hat link building?
The extent of the consequences depends on the misuse of algorithms: from deindexing a few pages to complete blocking of the resource.
What are black-hat link-building techniques?
Creating doorways, cheating behavioral factors, link farms, duplicate content, and many other approaches.
Why should black-hat methods be avoided?
This is because, in the long run, the site will only get negative traffic. It’s better to boost traffic using safe methods.
Why are black-hat methods bad for the site?
Because they are based on weaknesses in Google algorithms. Any manipulation leads to backlash.