What Is BlackHat SEO? 5 Definitions

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SEOrefugee thread opened up a great discussion on what BlackHat SEO literally is. I also got definitions from Google and Wikipedia in an effort to organize all definitions in some way:

Definitions focusing on cheating:

Blackhat SEO “exploits weaknesses in the algo by breaking the webmaster guidelines”. Blackhat SEO is primarily about “cheating” / “manipulating” search engines. It is also about “misrepresenting content to search engines”.

Definition focusing on people:

Blackhat SEO is focused on machine whereas Whitehat SEO is focused on an end user.

Definitions focusing on money:

Blackhat SEO focuses on earning “money without even trying to provide any value to the visitors”

Definitions focusing on search engine guidelines:

Black hat = search engine guidelines violations (White hat = no guidelines violations).

Too general / Definitions that basically mean nothing:

Blackhat SEO is about getting higher search rankings in an unethical manner. Further to this one: it envolves “questionable and sometimes illegal search engine techniques” (what’s ethical? which laws? – these questions remain unclear).

Blackhat SEO is about spamming.

So what’s the ultimate definition of black hat SEO? Do marketers who criticise it really know what they are against? How do you define blackhat SEO (versus whitehat SEO)?

Ann Smarty
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing, tutorials and her guest blogging project, MyBlogGuest.com.
Ann Smarty
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  • http://www.pinnaclepromotions.com Rob

    Its good to see the definitions focused on various categories. Thanks.

  • http://www.websight.org Website Design Orange County

    Unfortunately while these definitions are somewhat accurate they are also very ambiguous. If you are unaware of the webmaster guidelines you may in fact be doing something the search engines don’t like. But that doesn’t make you a Black Hat SEO.

    Additionally, there are many rules that are fuzzy as to what may deemed White Hat and what may be viewed as Black Hat. It would be helpful if there were absolute rules, but alas we do not live in a perfect world.

  • http://wristbands.geeksonsteroids.com Janeth

    At one time Google said anything you do to your website with the purpose of higher ranking is black hat.

    I’m just wondering what the white hats are really doing?

    Oh wait, there posting on forums and blogs about black hats.

  • http://www.spotlightideas.co.uk Eamon

    I go along the broad idea that Google is pretty sophisticated now. Focus on quality content and on, broadly-speaking, tweaking one’s site so that the content stands the best chance of getting noticed. Instead of, that is, focusing on the ‘tweaking’ in its own right. If you have extra time, just focus on the content. If in doubt just leave off whatever SEO you were doubtful about tweaking, and just focus on tweaking the content, instead.
    SEO has its uses but at the end of day it is now only the packaging to decent content.

  • http://daylight.com/blog Vikram

    Nice definations

  • Anon

    I believe anything done with the intentions of manipulating a websites rankings is blackhat. I really don’t think you can count any seo as whitehat, as all techniques are done to favour one websites rankings and compromise the quality of results.

    Perhaps onsite optimisation may be classed as whitehat since it only makes a site more crawlable. And creating good quality content may also be classed as whitehat, since it does not compromise the quality of results, it improves them.

  • http://www.ychange.com Small Business Marketing

    I too would love to have rules that are more spelled out. It is very difficult to know when you are crossing the line.

  • http://www.trezora.com Glass Jewelry

    I’m surprised nobody mentioned the customer. When we were just getting started with our glass jewelry website, the firm which designed our original website claimed to also provide SEO services. We naively shelled out large sums of money to this con artist thinking she was going to help increase our revenues and our visibility on the web. Neither occurred and she kept coming up with new crazy schemes. When we finally realized she was a fraud, we started fresh with a new design firm which helped with a total redesign of our site which integrated SEO from the beginning. They also advised us to perform our own SEO and that’s how I got started. After a great deal of self-education (thanks to Brian & Jeffrey Eisenberg and “A Call to Action”) and hard work, we are now #1 for “glass jewelry” and other important key words and that work has payed off in terms of a real increase in revenues and visibility on the web.

    My definition is simple. Black hat SEO is fraud.

  • http://www.blackhatseoworld.com BlackHatDead

    black hat seo will die soon ūüôā

  • http://www.testmerit.com/ comparkgroup01

    All techniques are done to favour one websites rankings and compromise the quality of results.

  • http://kameir.com Kameir

    It’s simple: whatever the Google algorithm DEEMS black hat at the time IS black hat. Any other opinion can be discounted.