The Evolution of Black Hat SEO

Search engine optimization has been around since consumers first began to turn to the internet to find goods and services. Simply put, SEO is the process of building and managing a website in a way that improves the way it ranks for relevant search queries. It’s only natural that businesses want to be found by consumers, and soon enough, an entire industry emerged focused on helping companies get their sites to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Since the beginning, there have been “black-hat” and “white-hat” SEO – black hat referring to unethical techniques that are designed to game the system. To understand why some techniques are considered black hat, it’s important to keep in mind that Google is trying to give consumers the best and most relevant search results possible. When digital marketers use manipulative techniques to influence search results, it can result in less-than-ideal outcomes for users. Some examples of black hat techniques include:

  • Hiding keywords off-screen or by using the same color text as the website background
  • Obtaining backlinks from public blog networks (PBNs)
  • Spammy or low-quality links
    Other actions that violate Google’s guidelines

These techniques no longer work and are often actually penalized. As Google gets more sophisticated, it updates its search algorithms in ways designed to identify sites that are trying to manipulate the search results – leading marketers to try new techniques – leading to more Google updates, and so on. In this way, a cat-and-mouse game has developed between people practicing SEO and search engines, with both sides trying to figure out what the other is doing.

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