Photo by mightyohm

There are a number of less-than reputable ways to "optimize" your website for search engines, but such black hat SEO techniques (the moniker borrowed from hacker lingo) leave your website exposed to penalties and unprotected in the event of algorithmic changes.

Among a plethora of information on how to build traffic to your website and what methods to use, there is a single point of consensus that is consistent across all sources: black hat SEO techniques should be avoided.

Below are 4 methods of this ilk that you should steer clear of. Practicing any of these with regularity will kill your search engine rankings and make it near impossible to re-establishreestablish your website. While these methods may appear effective in the short-term, you'll regret the long-term (and long-lasting) negative impact that they will have on your website.

1. Anchor Text Link Building Strategies

Not too long ago, using a keyword as anchor text was a completely legitimate - not to mention easy - way of getting yourself to rank higher based on that keyword.

With the introduction of Google's Penguin update in May, this tactic became inadvisable. This is flagged as a blatant attempt to manipulate search engine rankings, which search engines are adamantly opposed to. Now, a high percentage of exact match anchor text links can results in a Penguin penalty, and they are notoriously difficult to recover from.

2. Low Quality Link Building

Inbound links from low quality pages can actually serve to devalue your website, ultimately impacting you negatively.

Tons of ads, thin or poor quality content, and lots of content but low traffic may indicate that a particular website is not a good backlink opportunity.

Furthermore, this practice falls under Google's definition of a link scheme, and when used in excess, it can hurt your website.

3. Article Syndication

Article syndication was a common SEO practice up until fairly recently. It took care of the quantity part of link building, but ignored the quality part.

Essentially, it's the practice of taking one piece of content and spinning it off to distribute on a multitude of different websites. And even today, it might work for the short term.

However, making up poor quality articles and passing them off as valuable content that should be read or linked to is not good for long term SEO. When it's detected, your website will suffer for it.

4. Duplicate Content

Avoiding duplicate content is a well-known SEO best practice, yet people still copy and spin content in order to hit valued keywords as many times as possible over as many avenues as they can.

The problem with this is that search engine algorithms can detect duplicated content with relative ease, and when they do, websites employing this method suffer the consequences.

The key is to produce original, unique content that is likely to be used, cited and shared, which indicates to search engines that it is valuable and relevant.


Any informed discussion on how to build traffic to your website will stress one simple truth - black hat SEO techniques are not the way to do it. If you roll the dice and employ any of the above tactics, you will likely be penalized, and your website will disappear from SERPs completely. So despite the visible short-term rewards these methods may produce, ultimately, their use will end up hurting your website in the long run.