You should always avoid black hat SEO techniques as they can result in penalties that include your site being omitted from search results. Here are five common black hat SEO techniques you should know about so you can avoid using them.

Hidden Text

This technique involves hiding text on a page so it’s not visible to users but visible to the search engine. An example would be using a gray background and writing keywords all over the page in the same gray background color so the words blend in and are invisible to users. Avoid using hidden text, as it is easy to pick up by search engines and will result in penalties.


Cloaking is a practice that displays different content depending on who’s looking at it. The most common cloaking method is showing images to human users while only showing HTML text to the search engine. Search engines disapprove of this tactic because it allows users to be bombarded by unwanted content, such as ads or malware, when they are expecting something else. Normally, search engines can warn users about potentially malicious sites, but cloaking bypasses these precautions. When a search engine detects cloaking, it penalizes the page.

Private Blog Networks (PBNs) a.k.a. Web Rings

PBNs, also known as web rings, work on the premise that having external links from other websites benefits search engine rankings. But in this scenario, you own all the websites and link them to each other. By linking to each other, the sites are able to push each other into higher search rankings. While this can be a legitimate method for users who own multiple sites, it becomes problematic when the sites are all the same and only serve to channel traffic between each other.

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing takes advantage of how search engine algorithms scan pages for keywords relevant to the searcher’s query. It involves arbitrarily repeating keywords throughout a website’s content for phrases or topics that you want to rank highly for. The result is usually a website that is poorly written or is useless to anyone looking for real, relevant information. Search engines are designed to recognize keyword stuffing, and it brings no value to your users. Not to mention, keywords are not the only thing search engines look for to rank a page highly, so you’re only going to get so far with keywords.

Blog Comment Spam

One of the oldest black hat SEO methods is adding links to your sites in the comments sections of someone else’s blog as another form of creating backlinks to your content. Since this method is so well known, most websites will just mark your comment as spam and ban you. Additionally, if you use this method, your brand might appear amateur or illegitimate to users who see you spamming your links in comments.

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Last Update: June 28, 2024

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