Link building has always been a key factor in improving SERP rankings and growing businesses online.
Due to its' importance, Google is often intolerant of anyone using sneaky tactics to beat the system.
There are lots of unanswered questions about the legitimacy of the link building strategies you read online. Many webmasters find themselves out of business overnight due to a backlinking strategy they didn't know was illegal.
That's why it's super crucial for any webmaster to learn about black hat link building and its' effects on SEO. And that's exactly what we're going to teach you in today's guide.
Let's dive in.
Black hat SEO is a set of shady SEO tactics used to improve a site's performance in the SERPs.
These techniques do not comply with search engine guidelines and policies. Thus, they're considered illegal because of how they trick Google to rank higher.
Black hat SEO link building is one of those sneaky techniques. It includes many methods such as PBNs, paid links, blog comments, etc.
We'll explain each one of those later in this article.
But first, lets consider whether black hat backlinking can deliver results.
Black hat SEO link building will always work — until it doesn't.
The promise of fast results and quick rankings is true, for the most part. You can sometimes get your pages to the first page of Google within months from using black hat methods.
You'll get new traffic to your website and see your numbers going up each week.
What many SEOs don't know is that those results are only temporary and can never be sustained. Once search engines identify your links as illegal, you'll lose all your hard work and rankings overnight.
That can happen in a few different ways depending on the nature of those illegal backlinks.
For the most part:
Google may roll out an update that targets spammy backlinks and low-quality content. Such updates are often launched to improve the content quality on the first pages.
That's exactly what happened with the Penguin update in 2012 when Google decided to put an end to illegal links. All websites with unnatural backlinks lost their rankings, allowing for better content to rise to the top.
In other times:
A webmaster may receive a manual Google penalty that explicitly addresses their backlinking profile. That puts the website in a tight situation as Google no longer trusts its' content and backlinks.
In such cases, the site owner will need to submit a reconsideration request to Google.
It may take up to three months for the website to recover from the penalty. Even worse, it will lose most of its' rankings and traffic.
Search engines declared war on spammy links decades ago. Developers have been working hard to put an end to anything that might lead to a negative experience for the user.
Google considers backlinks a reliable measure for high-quality and relevance. After all, link building remains one of the most essential SEO strategies to improve rankings.
So if manipulative links aren't dealt with, they'll have a huge negative effect on search results.
Spammy links are misleading to both Google and its' users.
When someone searches the net for a specific term, they expect to get the best results as quickly as possible.
If some of the top sites offer low-quality content while using spammy backlinks, they'll still get to the top.
As people start noticing how unhelpful the search results are, they'll decide to try out other search engines the next time.
Imagine building a website for your business from scratch and creating awesome content to help your prospective clients.
A competitor following black hat tactics will sometimes rank over you in the SERPs, even when they don't deserve to.
That explains why black hat SEO is illegal and why it's heavily punished by search engines whenever discovered.
As a webmaster working hard to grow your business, you may come across various SEO methods that can help you succeed.
Unfortunately, some of them are unethical and won't work in the long term.
And what's worse?
Google can't tell if you're following those strategies by mistake or on purpose, but either way you'll still be penalized.
Here are five black hat backlinking techniques you must avoid like the plague:
Many webmasters and SEOs are paying to get links from authoritative sites. It's a quick way for them to get a boost in their SERPs rankings and increase traffic.
Such backlinks do work, and they're the hardest to detect by Google since there is no proof for the transaction.
Whether this is done through low-quality guest posting or direct link buying, Google will eventually catch you. And once that happens, your website may never see the light again.
Buying links that pass PageRank is a violation of Google's webmaster guidelines because such links are considered manipulative.
You should never pay high-authority sites to link to your website. Instead, try building genuine relationships with their owners so you can build links ethically.
When a domain name expires, it doesn't lose its' linking authority. Yet, anyone online can buy it and take advantage of its' link power.
So, what does that have to do with private blog networks?
A private blog network (PBN) is a collection of domains owned by a single person or company and used to generate links to a primary domain.
Each of those websites is full of thin, duplicate content that tricks search engines into believing that it's a live site running on fresh content. These PBNs will then be used to create different links to the primary website to boost its' authority.
Black hat SEOs following this method often face the worst ending.
That's because their backlinking profiles are built mainly on a few high-authority sites. So when they get penalized, they lose all the domain authority.
Forum signatures appear below threads or replies that users leave on online forums. Many webmasters use this method to create backlinks by joining industry-related forums.
Most forum owners make their external links "nofollow" to prevent them from passing link juice. That helps them keep signature links to a minimum.
The thing is:
If you include links to your site in your signature, you'll generate hundreds of spammy backlinks. They'll all have the same anchor text and URL, which is a red flag for crawling spiders.
Google has officially stated that forum comments and signature links are a violation of their guidelines.
Most users create them in the hope of increasing their domain strength, which makes them unnatural to search engines.
Stay away from forum signature links to avoid any unnecessary penalties.
There was a time when blog commenting was an effective technique to build backlinks.
All you had to do was find unique blogs to comment on, then write a short comment with a link to one of your web pages. Do that a few dozen times each day, and you'll notice your site ranking better within months.
Search engines were quick to realize the damage caused by such practices. And ever since, links built through blog commenting have lost their SEO value.
Today, spammy blog comments no longer work and are considered a black hat tactic by expert SEOs.
Sites built on free blogging platforms such as Blogger and Blogspot no longer pass link juice to external websites. It's almost impossible to find a Blogspot site ranking on the first page of Google today.
Link exchange has always been an efficient backlinking strategy, especially if you're getting started. You can contact a webmaster in your industry and ask for a link exchange to help both of your businesses grow.
Excessive cross-linking, where links are regularly exchanged between the same two webmasters, will negatively impact their site rankings.
Search engines will detect the cross-linking and penalize both sites for it.
What should you do instead?
Reach out to a few dozen webmasters in your industry for link exchanges.
This method allows you to maintain a diverse backlinking profile. Your inbound links seem more natural, which makes them more appealing to search engines.
Black hat SEO may seem enticing to many site owners, especially if they're just getting started. But getting a penalty from Google is the worst outcome your website can get in today's internet-driven economy.
Avoid the shady methods we discussed in this article. And be sure to read carefully through Google webmaster guidelines to learn more about the dos and don'ts of link building.
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