SEO is a fierce zero-sum
That’s why some business owners resort to black-hat tactics to topple competitors from the top of the SERPs.
While there are some black-hat SEO tactics you clearly shouldn’t use, like hacking (because it’s illegal), others seem less risky. But even the ones that look like they might be worth it are frankly never a good idea for legitimate businesses—so you should avoid them at all costs.
In this article, we’ll cover six common black-hat SEO tactics and what to do instead:
Buying links means paying another website to link to your website.
Payment for links can be money, goods, or services.
Buying links is bad on many levels:
This is where you create a valuable resource, then reach out to the owner of a website you want a link from and give them a compelling reason to link to it.
A great way to get started with this approach is to use the icing on the cake technique:
Let’s look at an example…
Say you’ve created a curated list of resume templates. This is a valuable resource, so the next step is to find pages that your resource will complement. In this case, that might be posts about “how to write a resume.” After all, a guide to writing a resume is good, but a guide to writing a resume with templates is arguably even better.
You can find these pages super easily in Content Explorer, a searchable database of billions of web pages. Here’s how:
title:"topic" -"what your page is about"
For example, if you search for
title:“how to write a resume” -“templates”, you’ll see over two thousand posts about writing resumes that don’t mention anything about templates:
You could easily reach out to these sites and explain that:
Not everyone will link to you, but some will (as long as your pitch makes sense).
Keyword stuffing is the practice of repeating the same keywords (or similar phrases) in your content to manipulate rankings.
Back in the ’90s, this tactic used to work. Not anymore.
Keyword stuffing is a bad SEO practice because:
The antidote to keyword stuffing is comprehensive content.
You can create this in two ways.
First, write in-depth content that covers a topic meticulously. The result? You will naturally include most expressions and long-tail keywords people use to discuss the topic.
Second, try to cover subtopics that searchers might want and expect to see.
Both of these things can help you rank higher because Google doesn’t only judge content based on how many times it mentions the search query. It also looks at whether the page contains other relevant content and keywords:
There are many ways to find potential subtopics to cover, such as:
But these methods are labor-intensive.
The easiest and most efficient way is to run a content gap analysis for your page. This shows keywords the top-ranking pages rank for that you don’t, some of which tend to represent subtopics.
Here’s how to do it:
For example, if we do this for our guide to guest blogging, we see a couple of keywords related to “guidelines”:
If we look at one of the top-ranking posts, we soon see that these keywords relate to advice about reviewing a site’s guest blogging guidelines before pitching:
We omitted this advice from our post. So it may be worth adding in for a more comprehensive article that can (hopefully) beat our competitors.
Blog comment spam is where you post irrelevant comments on blog posts with the sole goal of getting a link back to your site.
Even if we ignore how annoying this is for the blogs on the receiving end, it’s not good for SEO because blog comment links are almost always nofollowed. That means the links are extremely unlikely to help you rank.
Write helpful blog comments on high-traffic posts.
Doing this won’t lead to higher-value links than leaving spammy blog comments because they’re still nofollowed. However, people are more likely to read a valuable and helpful comment and click through to your website. That doesn’t lead to direct SEO benefits, but people might share your content and end up linking to you—so it can lead to indirect SEO benefits.
Here’s a good way to find pages to leave comments on using Content Explorer:
For example, say you’re a dropshipping expert. You might search Content Explorer for “make money online” and see these results:
The highlighted post has tons of organic traffic and many comments:
This post is a perfect candidate for a powerful comment that can drive traffic to your site.
Article spinning, aka content spinning, is where you take a piece of content and rewrite it to create many “new” pieces of content.
Article spinners rarely use spun content on their blogs. Instead, they use it to create lots of “unique” guest posts to publish on multiple sites and build backlinks quickly and easily.
Article spinning is bad for SEO because:
Use the perspective technique to create unique variations of a guest post from different perspectives.
For example, let’s say you write a guest post entitled “The future of link building.”
You could easily change the perspective of that post to create multiple unique and valuable guest posts:
Is this more work than article spinning? Of course. But it’s way less work than writing guest posts on entirely unrelated topics because you already did most of the research and hard work for the original post.
Even better, changing the perspective helps you to get backlinks from a wider variety of websites.
Think about it: “The future of link building for startups” is hardly going to appeal to a blog for SMEs, but a post about “the future of link building for small businesses” will.
You can also approach the same topic from opposite angles. For example, say you wrote a post about “X Benefits Of Link Building For Startups.” You could flip the script and write a guest post for another site titled “X Link Building Mistakes Startups Make.”
Learn more: Guest Blogging for SEO
Negative SEO is an underhand technique of attempting to sabotage a competing website or web page’s rankings.
Negative SEO is bad because:
Create content that actually deserves to rank—and demonstrate that fact to Google.
This is easier said than done, but there are typically two crucial ingredients:
Let’s start with search intent…
Search intent is the reason behind a search. Unless your page aligns with search intent and gives the searcher what they’re looking for, your chances of ranking are slim to none.
You can identify search intent for a keyword by analyzing the top-ranking pages for the three Cs of search intent:
As for backlinks, you need them—at least if you want to rank for anything remotely competitive.
Check out the resources below to learn more about building links to your pages.
Rich snippets spam is when you misuse structured data to (try to) gain an edge in the SERPs.
Rich snippet spam is bad because:
Include accurate structured data on your pages where relevant by following Google’s structured data guidelines.
Google says that this helps them to “understand the content of the page.”
Following the rules also increases your chances of being included in special search result features and enhancements.
Check out the resources below to learn more about implementing structured data and winning rich snippets.
Black-hat SEO tactics aren’t worth the risk, so stay clear of them.
They can get your site penalized and damage your brand’s reputation.
You’re better off focusing on viable white-hat alternatives. Admittedly, the tactics I suggested in this guide need require effort than the quickfire dark tactics. But the good news is they work and bring lasting results.
Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.
Source: ahrefs.com, originally published on 2021-09-21 17:15:29