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Black hat search engine optimization (SEO) refers to controversial SEO methods used to acquire higher Web page search engine rankings. Black hat SEO is often described as a search engine algorithm gaming technique. It makes use of aggressive techniques and procedures which are only aimed at search engines and do not consider a website's human audience. Black hat SEO methods are usually considered unethical.
In the early days of SEO, many black hat SEO techniques were considered legitimate – although a bit aggressive. These techniques have since been abandoned as search engines have released clearer SEO guidelines. Although several black hat SEO techniques work effectively, they mostly offer short-term gains.
Examples of black hat SEO methods include:
The definition of black hat SEO is meaningful in contrast to white hat SEO. Search engines are geared toward directing users to websites that most appropriately match their queries. Metadata, tags, headers, inbound links and other data factor into search engine results and hierarchies. White hat SEO focuses on strengthening data point accuracy to fully reflect Web page search content results. Black hat SEO techniques are used in an attempt to trick search engines into directing users to a page that appears to answer or match user search queries, but may in fact contain unrelated content.
Search engines algorithms have adjusted to nullify basic black hat SEO techniques such as keyword stuffing. In certain extreme cases, search engines may lower the offending page's rank or delete the offender from search results.