Black hat SEO tricks and how to apply them in ethical way

by Tolovaj

Reality is cruel. Black hat SEO tricks are still the most effective way to get top positions in results of search engines. What can (and should) we learn from black hat world?

Black hat SEO is common name for whole bunch of unethical techniques and procedures which can be applied to improve positions of our pages in rankings of search engines. Although search engines try to improve their algorithms from day to day, many of them still work and it is very likely most of them will be used for many years if not for ever.

The reason for this is simple. Search results are actually nothing else than list of most popular competitors. If we have a competition, we have at least few candidates who want to win. Cheating was always among mot popular way for winning and introduction of internet didn't change that.

Even if we want to stay under white hat, we should be aware of black hat SEO techniques which should be understood - to beat competitors, to learn from their mistakes or innovations - and ultimately - to win the rankings.

So here is my...

List of top 10 black hat SEO tricks

with short explanation and white (or grayish) alternatives:
Top 10 list

1. Keyword stuffing

and how to do it with white hat on

In the old days of the internet (few months ago) spiders and robots crawled pages to find out what is the certain page about. If they found a certain keyword (like: "black hat SEO"), they concluded this page was dealing with this certain keyword. If they found many pages with the same string of words, they believed the most relevant was the one where this string was repeated the most times.

Graphic example of keyword stuffingAlthough these days are (almost) over, we still have to use the exact keyword we want to rank for in most important places of the page: URL, title, subtitles, text body, tags, alt tags, anchor text etc. How many of these places and how often we should repeat this specific string of words (sometimes combinations and synonyms can do the trick) depends on many factors. So we should always try what works in our specific situation and tweak the page if necessary.

All images on this page come from Pixabay, are public domain and royalty free.

Do you use exact keywords in all (or most) strategic places of your web pages?

2. Cloaking, doorway pages and hidden content

change lying into marketing

All these methods are used similarly and with the same basic idea: to show search engines keyword rich content and to present often totally different page to the human visitor. With right combination of both you can get a lot of clicks and clicks always mean money.


Search engines can be still tricked with these black hat tricks though not nearly as easily as five years ago. Ethical owner of web page will never use something like that but he/she can certainly put some blows and whistles to encourage page visitors to take some action. Write in attractive way and remember there is a a gray area between truth and lies. It is called propaganda.

3. Comment spamming

do comments, add value!

Popularity contest going on in search engines' rankings is very dependent on votes also known as links. Comment section in Web 2.0 pages (blogs and their relatives) were great opportunity to get few (or few thousands) of links to competing page. They still are.

Commenting is important part in white hat SEO tactics too. Comments should always be constructive, relevant and they should add value to original post (page, article). Unfortunately since introduction of nofollow tag comments are not the best source of link juice anymore. Good comment can still drive traffic to our pages and - what is even more important - help to establish relationships with real people who write for web!

4. Web scraping

go for original content!

Web scraping is still popularSearch engines love content and black hatters always provided it in huge amounts by extracting all available data in text and graphic format. Web scraping is only a fancy name for stealing.

If we want to stay ethical we shall publish only original content with all necessary credits. If we can't write everything, ask for help at experts on the subject, not at cheapest service with anonymous writers and no guarantee 'our' article sill not be published on the web at hundreds of places at once. Use original photos, licensed material with proper credit or free sites like Pixabay.

5. Article Spinning

go for more original conetent

When search engines learned to recognize scraped content an digital millennium act brought some positive changes, black hat world answered with aggressive version of scraping. With relatively cheap tools they started to produce hundreds of 'unique' articles from only one (often scraped) 'original' article.Spun results have different sequences of words, they can use totally different sets of sentences and they even look like they were written by real people in weird moods. Spun articles don't add value to the web and they should not help in search rankings. Unfortunately search engines are always one step behind best article spinners which are often combination of automated tools and human creativity, so spinning is still effective black hat technique.

Spun content is mighty opponent

Fight it with creativity!
Spun articles


Can we often competitive white hat answer? Publishing original articles and creative interlinking, both backed with human presence is a good start!

6. Link farming

this technique has no efficient white hat SEO answer!

Links are the most powerful currency on the web. Although Google introduced Penguin to punish links coming from so called bad neighborhoods the equation is still pretty simple. More links you have, more votes you got in web popularity contest.

If you want to beat old page with powerful black hat background you can use several tactics:

Which is Google and which Penguin?1. ask all your friends and relatives for all possible links they  can give you

2. find another battleground

3. answer with really creative tactics

4. put on your black hat


But let's face it - search engines can only clean part of the problematic pages from their rankings. For everyone being caught there are dozens waiting to fight for his/her place.

7. Buffering

don't put all your eggs in one basket!

Buffering is advanced black hat SEO technique which lost a bit on popularity since Penguin. The idea is simple. When black hatters realized their landing pages can get penalties due spamming and other inappropriate methods, they started to set so called buffer pages. They have directed all spammy links to the buffers and buffer transferred the authority to the landing page. If buffer was identified as page in bad neighborhood, only the buffer (Squidoo lenses were popular for this role for years) was punished and landing page could continue getting authority from other sources.

Since Penguin algorithm can (not always!) conclude that somebody (landing page) getting links from bad neighborhood (buffer page) probably belongs in bad neighborhood, both pages can get penalties.

Avoid bad neighborhood

Buffers are very useful in white hat SEO tactics too. If nothing else they remind us how fragile can be our on-line presence. We can use them to diversify our content and our links. This reduces our risk in case something goes wrong.

In the Wild World of Web this is pretty common situation...

8. Bombing competition

learn from your opponents

When Google admitted links from bad neighborhood can destroy pages, several web masters, especially in very competitive niches started to pay for links coming from wrong places and showing to pages of their competitors.

Experiment of former SEO MOZ team showed every page can be bombed with proper amount of bad links and Google offered disavow tool which should be used with extreme caution. Unfortunately it can be used only by web masters, not from content writers, so it is good to know on most Web 2.0 pages we are actually very vulnerable to this threat.

How can we apply this tactics in the white hat SEO world?

1. Check our links regularly and act if we notice something suspicious.

2. Check what our competition is doing.

3. Build quality links. We need them more then ever.

9. Automatisation

make a cheat list

Somebody who plans to be successful on the web, should be aware of his biggest limitation from the very beginning. Earning and spending all those millions takes time and day has only 24 hours in just about every part of the world.

So it is smart to invest in scripts to scrape articles, few more to spin content and another set of tools to submit tons of spam all over the web. With pinch of luck you can get top positions for just about every profitable keyword you imagine.

At least until you got caught.


This is actually very useful black hat SEO approach. We can use a lot of automated tools and stay under white hat. O.k., we should avoid stealing and spamming but we can still try to save as much time as we can. So ask for help or outsource if we can. Build a team around our projects. Focus on the part where we enjoy most (or make the majority of profits). Write a list with all necessary points of on-line writing:

1. research

2. write

3. promote


And most important: Stay focused!

10. Think outside of the box


The most important lesson which can be learned from this list of black hat SEO techniques is the ability to adapt to every situation. Fight only fights where you can win. Be creative. Think at least one step ahead of the algorithms. Search engines have the power, people have the wit.

All black hat SEO tricks will be eventually neutralized but for every one of them, new, even  more effective and creative method, will become available. Humans are tricksters. Always were, always will be. So beware of the black hats!

Updated: 07/28/2013, Tolovaj
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What is the most effective black hat trick in your opinion?

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Tolovaj on 09/03/2023

Well, DerdriuMarrner, a lot is assumed yet nobody really understands Google's algorithm. Including Google employees.

DerdriuMarriner on 06/14/2023

Keyword stuffing always appears at the top of any list about dark-side SEO.

And yet isn't it assumed, chattered, rumored, suggested throughout the internet world that those keywords must be backed up by three to four actual occurrences through a combination of title, summary statement, image captions and article?

Tolovaj on 02/17/2015

Well said, sheilamarie. If we don't know what is allowed and what not (and possibly why), we can easily slip to the dark side. On the other hand I have found many creative ideas among black hatters and some of them proved to be very useful without doing something wrong.

sheilamarie on 02/10/2015

Although most of us want to stay away from using black hat techniques, it's important to be aware of what we are up against. Sometimes there can be a fine line between doing something in an unethical way and practicing good SEO. We must learn and adapt, as you've said.

Tolovaj on 03/16/2014

Thanks, Telesto, for your visit. We all have a lot to learn and this is actually a good thing:)

Telesto on 03/13/2014

Thank you for this. I realise that I still have LOADS to learn...

Tolovaj on 03/11/2014

Hat-tip to you, VioletteRose!

VioletteRose on 03/10/2014

You have shared some great information here, I have never heard of this term before. Thank you :)

Tolovaj on 09/26/2013

Well said, Rose. Black hat is reality and till most of the biggest brands apply it, we'll just have to live with it.

Rose on 09/25/2013

Google's latest algo changes seem to have made blackhat sites take over the web! They've some way to go to level the playing field for the white hats.

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