What Does ‘Black Hat’ Mean In Online Marketing?

Google search results for "what is black hat in marketing".
Courtesy of Google.


What Does “Black Hat” Mean In Online Marketing?

“Black Hat” tactics in online marketing are those that are in violation of the rules of whatever platform or vehicle the marketing revolves around.

The common type of “Black Hat” marketing is “Black Hat SEO” (defined below).

The term can be used to describe marketing efforts in any medium, however, not just SEO.

Some other example of “Black Hat” tactics could include:

-“Cloaking” ads on Facebook, Taboola, or other online ad networks.

-Engaging in email marketing using stolen or scraped email addresses.

-Attempting to drive organic traffic via impersonation or other unethical means.

-Utilizing advertorials with fake celebrity endorsements or fake testimonials


Here is a video from John Crestani about the subject:

For comparison, here’s a video from Julian Goldie on local-seo using traditional “whitehat” tactics:


What Is “Black Hat SEO”?

“Black Hat SEO” usually refers to search engine optimization (SEO) techniques that go against guidelines established by search engines. These techniques are used to “game” existing search engine algorithms to quickly improve search rankings, often with disregard for user experience.

Typically, the use of black hat methods leads to penalties.

HubSpot defines black hat in SEO as follows:

Black hat SEO is a practice against search engine guidelines, used to get a site ranking higher in search results. These unethical tactics don’t solve for the searcher and often end in a penalty from search engines. Black hat techniques include keyword stuffing, cloaking, and using private link networks.

Black hat SEO is the opposite of white hat SEO. White hat SEO, unlike black hat, aims to improve search engine rankings by creating high-quality content that is helpful for users.


Possible Penalties For The Use Of Black Hat Techniques

According to Semrush, the use of black hat SEO methods could lead to:

  • Declines in search rankings and online visibility. This happens once the search engine recognizes that unapproved SEO techniques were used.
  • Unsustainable results. Manipulative SEO techniques can improve organic search performance in the short term. But in the long term, traffic loss is inevitable due to penalties and algorithmic changes in search engines.
  • Poor user experience. Black hat techniques are aimed to optimize content for search engines (with poor long-term results), while white hat SEO is more customer-centric.


Common Black Hat Techniques In Search Engine Optimization

Several black hat techniques exist. Some of them are listed below:

  • Keyword stuffing, which is the excessive use of the page’s main target keyword.
  • Automatically generated/duplicate content, which incorporates the duplication of old content or automatic generation of content based on a large number of keywords.
  • Hidden text, which is used to stuff keywords.
  • Doorway/gateway pages, including pages that are created for the sole purpose of ranking on search engines.
  • Cloaking, which incorporates showing one piece of content to users and a completely different piece to search engines.
  • Paid/manipulated links, including spam on forums, blogs, as well as excessive link exchanges.

In the video below, digital marketer Neil Patel details 3 black hat techniques that will result in a Google penalty.



“Black Hat” Marketing Tactics In The News

In early 2020, Facebook made headlines when it filed a lawsuit against a company that aided black hat marketers in “cloaking” ads.

As per SocialMediaToday:

Facebook has filed new lawsuit over violation of its terms and conditions, this time taking aim at a company called ‘LeadCloak’ and its use of ad ‘cloaking’ to re-direct user actions…

…Among various violations, Facebook says that LeadCloak’s software has been used to conceal websites featuring scams related to COVID-19, cryptocurrency, pharmaceuticals, diet pills, and fake news pages. Some of these cloaked websites also included images of celebrities…

Also, Livemint states that:

In 2020, [Google] blocked or removed over 867 million ads for attempting to evade its detection systems, including cloaking, and an additional 101 million ads for violating the misrepresentation policies.




Related Posts:

What Is Direct Linking In Digital Marketing?

Google Sandbox And Website Age – Do Older Websites Rank Better?

Bounce Rate In Digital Marketing