Black Hat SEO

What Does Black Hat SEO Mean?

Black hat search engine optimization (SEO) refers to the unethical or aggressive techniques used by some webmasters to gain higher search engine ranking.


As the Internet has evolved, IT experts have generally defined the technical as well as the social standards for the legitimate crafting of websites and pages to get search engine visibility.

Black hat SEO represents practices deemed unfair by the general internet community, and changes to major search engines such as Google have been made to prevent black hat webmasters from obtaining the results they want.

Black hat SEO is also known as a number of other terms, including:

  • Spamdexing
  • Search engine spam
  • Search engine poisoning
  • Search spam
  • Web spam

Techopedia Explains Black Hat SEO

In general, the qualifiers "white hat" and "black hat" have been used as a shorthand for describing the intents and motivations of various types of IT users, for instance: hackers and security workers.

Those who use black hat SEO practices may not be operating illegally, but they are thought of as "gaming the system" and unfairly influencing search results.

Practices such as keyword stuffing are a good example of black hat SEO. Keyword stuffing is a deceptive technique meant to trick search engines into thinking content is more relevant than it actually is by overloading a webpage with keywords.

One aspect of black hat SEO is that marketers tend to focus only on search engine results and not on the human user experience.

As Google workers analyze black hat SEO, the company has made changes to its search engine to foil this unethical practice, for instance, by instituting more complex algorithms that seek to show whether web content is actually relevant and gathers organic page views, or whether it is boosted by black hat SEO methods.

A Summary of Black Hat SEO Methods

Keyword Stuffing

Loading extensive keyword lists into alt tags, metatags, and comment tags in text that is invisible to human eyes. This repeated flooding of exactly the same keywords within a Web page is designed to trick search engine algorithms, which read the keywords and rank the Web page high in their search results.

Link Building/Farming

Posting a website URL to a site that consists of a link directory with many links to other websites with completely unrelated content.

Doorway Pages

These pages are indexed by the search result. However, when users enter a doorway page, they are redirected to an unrelated Web page.

Invisible/Hidden Text

Inserting long lists of white-text keywords into a white background. This technique is considered spam, which can cause search engines to ban those who use it.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…