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Five Black Hat Search Engine Optimisation Tactics

Aug 1, 2008
The world of search engine optimisation can be perilous if you do not have sufficient knowledge to understand the tactics you are implementing. While everyone wants top search engine rankings, not everyone is convinced pursuing these at all costs is a great idea. This is where the optimisation industry is split along the lines of 'white hat SEO' and 'black hat SEO'. Both utilise methods that will increase rankings although the majority of those in the know realise that while the benefits of black hat are definitely there in the short term, for long term rankings success, the only tactics to employ are white hat.

Below is a list of the five most commonly used black hat optimisation tactics that should be avoided. The reason they should be avoided is that while the unscrupulous methods may bring limited success, once the search engines and competitors pick up on the practices, which they will, chances are your website will be heavily penalised. Penalties include deductions from the rankings and even complete removal from search engine listings. These penalties can be extremely harmful to a website, seriously restricting the online business that can be performed.

Keyword stuffing.

Most optimisation companies recognise the importance of having a suitable number of keywords on a web page. However a rather unscrupulous method is to stuff a page full of keywords; the perceived benefit being that search engines will deem the site more relevant if it has more keywords. This however is a mistake; algorithms now recognise this as spammy method, good SEO specialists understand that it is better to have a reasonable number of keywords, rather than overusing them.


Cloaking is a process that involves presenting the human user with a different website than the one visible to the search engine spiders. The reason it is considered black hat is that it is a tactic the purposely sets out to hoodwink the search engines with specialist content that will increase rankings. Some methods of cloaking are allowed however, if you have content designed for specific locations or if your page is password protected.

Hidden Text.

Like cloaking is the process of producing hidden text. The predominant way of doing this is to include text that is in a font the same colour as the background. Once again this is seen as unscrupulous as it deceives the search engines and human users by presenting different information to each.

Gateway Pages.

Some SEO specialists use a process of optimisation that creates pages with the specific purpose of ranking highly and linking a website to this gateway page. If the gateway page has no value to users and is there purely to gain rankings, penalties may be applicable.

Link Farms.

Many of the most popular search engines use link popularity as a determining factor in rankings. As a result some black hat SEO specialists create a network of pages that all link to each other, meaning that all have enough links to be deemed popular. This is viewed as being poor practice as the links are not relevant and purely set out to increase link popularity, once again, by doing this, a site will most likely be penalised.

Search engines have evolved steadily to weed out the uses of these practices so their results are relevant and trustworthy. While using these tactics may bring immediate success a better course of action is to pursue white hat methods as these will bring better results over a longer period. It may take a little longer but for long lasting rankings success it is the only path to follow.
About the Author
Internet marketing expert Thomas Pretty looks into some of the most common black hat search engine optimisation methods and why they should be avoided using ethical practices instead.
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