Black hat SEO refers to a set of practices that are used to increases a site or page’s rank in search engines through means that violate the search engines’ terms of service. The term “black hat” originated in Western movies to distinguish the “bad guys” from the “good guys,” who wore white hats (see white hat SEO). Recently, it’s used more commonly to describe computer hackers, virus creators, and those who perform unethical actions with computers.
Black Hat SEO is most commonly defined as a disapproved practice that nevertheless could increase a page’s ranking in a search engine result page (SERP). These practices are against the search engine’s terms of service and can result in the site being banned from the search engine and affiliate sites. A list of tactics and strategies employed by black hat SEO practitioners have been openly denounced on Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines.
“Is the work that I’m doing adding value to the user or am I just doing this for search engines to see?” is a litmus test on whether an SEO tactic would go against a search engine’s webmaster guideline. If no value is added to the user, but rankings are likely to increase, then your decisions are highly likely to be black hat. The same test can be applied to to paid search practices to determine whether an activity is considered black hat ppc.
There are two reason why you may report black hat SEO. Either your website has been attacked through a malicious hack, virus or negative SEO campaign of spammy links, or you see spammy web results on a competitive keyword your website is ranking on. For the latter, you may file a webspam report through Google Webmaster Tools. Please use this tool with discretion. SPAM does not stand for search positions above mine! Falsely reporting web spam could be considered black hat SEO.
In the event that your website has been attacked through a malicious hack, virus, or malware, request for a malware review after you’ve removed the malicious code.
In the event that your website is the target of a negative SEO campaign of spammy links, use the Disavow Links Tool in Google Webmaster Tools after you’ve tried to contact webmasters whom are pointing these links to your website to have them removed.
Black Hat SEO tactics can get your website banned from Google and other search engines.
Though there may be some short-term success through increased traffic to your site, Google penalties are getting more and more sophisticated and can have devastating effects on your rankings and traffic. With hundreds of millions of users searching on Google per day, can you really afford to be de-indexed?