In order to make an SEO tutorial that encompasses all aspects of SEO, I can’t ignore black hat link building. This is because despite it’s dark and ominous sounding name, it is hugely prevalent in the SEO world. Some SEO purists would even argue that all link building is black hat in some way, which I very much disagree with.
The other reason I wanted to include it in this course is because not everyone is looking to make long-term websites. Some people want to make a quick buck and move on. This is where black hat link building can be hugely beneficial.
What is Black Hat Link Building
Black hat link building is when you build links strictly for the purpose of trying to game Google’s algorithm and rank higher for specific keywords. These links are mostly spammy and are many times on pages that have no thought given to the user experience. They are strictly there to pass link juice and help you rank.
As I’ve said in a previous tutorial the term “black hat” doesn’t mean you are breaking the law or committing a crime. You are just not following Google’s rules. So by doing so, you are at the whim of Google. They can decide to penalize your site, de-index your site or just devalue the spammy links. It all depends and it’s all risky. So I highly recommend for those planning on having their sites as a long-term asset, black hat link building should be avoided. Or at the very least gone about with a lot of caution.
Churn ‘n Burn
The biggest reason to choose black hat link building is if you want to get into churn n burn. This is when you build websites quickly, use whatever tactics necessary to get them ranking as soon as possible and profit from them as much as you can before they tank in the rankings. After that’s done you move on, rinse and repeat. I’ve known many great black hat SEO’s who’ve made a killing off this type of strategy (literally millions). The problem is you need to stay at the cutting edge and be able to live with constant ups and downs.
Black Hat Automated Software
The majority of links built using black hat techniques use automated software to get the job done. This is because you can build thousands and thousands of links quickly using software. Some of the most popular software that does this type of link building are GSA Search Engine Ranker, Senuke, and RankerX.
What these programs allow you to do is build mass amount of links on various different platforms and free websites that allow you to publish content. Now I will fully admit it is possible to use these tools in more of a grey hat manner. If you put together high-quality content and carefully choose the sites that will be posted to, they could be used as just an automated way of helping “Brand” your business. All in all, though, they have been catered towards mass link building and that is what most people use them for.
These tools also allow you to spin content which basically leads to very low-quality content that is just a different version of content someone else already used.
Spun content or “Spinning” is when you take an article that has already been written and replace the synonyms with different words so that Google thinks the content is unique. So, for example, a line that reads:
Dog training can be difficult but it’s worth the time and effort.
A spun version of this sentence could read:
Puppy training may be hard but it is absolutely worth the time and patience.
So as you see they are basically the same sentence just with some words changed and added. Spun content is a big part of black hat link building. This is because Google usually won’t index duplicate content so the goal is to try and make the content appear unique to Google. Some popular spinning software is WordAI, Spin Rewriter, and The Best Spinner.
Types of Black Hat Links
Ok so now that your familiar with the concept of spinning let’s take a look at some of the different types of links that these automated tools will build.
Unlike the blog comments discussed in the white hat tutorial, these are comments built in mass with usually generic spun content. So nothing of any value is being added to the conversation and most of the sites that these blogs get posted on are spammed to death. They will usually be sites that nobody is maintaining and have thousands of other spammy comments already on the page.
Bookmarks are links on sites like Stumbleupon.com, Reddit, scoop.it etc.. They are sites that allow you to post your link with a small description. Now there is nothing wrong with bookmark links. These tools though will usually build them in mass and not stick to the highest quality sites. Bookmarking your site once at the sites mentioned above or maybe a few more is a great idea and could be considered part of the “Branding” stage of building your site. These tools though will build hundreds if not thousands of bookmarks on mostly low quality, non-maintained bookmarking sites and this is what gets a bit risky.
Forum Profile Links
Forum profile links are when the software creates accounts on different web forums, then places backlinks back to your website in the profile section of the user area. Back in 2008, these were the bee’s knees of backlinks. Easy to churn out and potentially very powerful. These days though you’re lucky if Google will index 1 out of every 100 of these type of links you build. They’ve also figured out a way to devalue them significantly so in my opinion, they are basically a waste of time.
Web 2.0 Profile Links
The term Web 2.0 is, in my opinion, out-dated and overused but nonetheless, it is an extremely popular term when it comes to grey hat and black hat link building. The term Web 2.0 is basically used to describe any website that allows it’s users to create their own pages with a unique URL. Web 2.0 profile links are virtually the same thing as forum profile links just on higher quality more reputable sites. Sites like Disqus or Myspace could be places where you can open an account, then place a link back to your site within the profile. Once again there is nothing wrong with this when done naturally and at a small scale. When automated though and done in the hundreds, it could raise some red flags to Google.
Free Blog Links (Also referred to as Web 2.0)
These type of links are on sites like WordPress.com, Tumblr, Livejournal etc.. The software will create an account on these sites with a blog, then post an article (usually spun) with your links included. Although getting links on sites like WordPress.com and Tumblr can be great, this type of software usually just builds 1-page blogs with low-quality content. These blogs usually get deleted after some time but can be beneficial in the short run.
Article Directory Links
Just talking about article directory links brings me back to my early days of SEO. Back then all the rage was to write an article (or spin an article) then submit it to sites like EzineArticles and Hubpages with your backlinks in the resource box. This was hugely powerful back then, now not so much. If you can get your article published on some high-quality article directories it may help your rankings a bit but these tools usually mass submit them to low quality article directories mainly comprised of other spun articles. I would be surprised if these links do any good at all.
These were another popular one a few years back. The software will go and create pages on wiki sites that allow it free page creation. Now I know what you’re thinking.. Wikipedia and Wikihow links? Those would be great! Not so fast. The sites that are churned out by these tools are once again usually low quality, non-maintained wiki sites that now have thousands of pages of irrelevant, spun content clogging up their wiki. You are definitely not getting links on Wikipedia
Black Hat Link Building Software Overview
This is just a rundown of the most popular link types. Some of the tools have more link types, options, bells and whistles. I don’t want it to come off as seeming that these tools hold no value.. They do! It’s just not long-term value. Most of the best automated software comes up with new link types or techniques that work for a short time until Google starts closing the loop hole. So they definitely can help you rank for a time. if you are in it to churn and burn then picking up some of these tools might be right for you.
As you may have noticed a lot of the link types I mentioned above had reference to the fact that I don’t feel they work well anymore. When it comes to PBN’s this not the case. PBN’s, when done well are probably the most effective link building tactic to rank highly and quickly.
PBN stands for “private blog network” or “public blog network”. Once again I feel the term is a bit dated because not all PBN’s are blog related but thats how the SEO world refers to them so who am I to reinvent the wheel.
What are PBN’s
PBN’s are networks of sites, usually with good SEO metrics that are made to look like real, every day websites with the main intention to be link building entities. People create PBN’s usually by buying up expired domains that have good backlink profiles, then re-purposing them to look like real active sites. They will then place articles with backlinks in them throughout the site.
There are many levels of PBN’s out there. Some still use low quality tactics, spin articles and saturate the site with backlinks. Others take a lot of care to make the sites look as real as possible. The articles are high quality and the backlinks are placed just like they would be in the real world. They also use several different hosts and other methods to make sure the sites have no footprints for Google to know they are PBN’s.
As the saying goes you usually get what you pay for. If you buy PBN links or create your own PBN you will have much better results if you maintain a higher quality network. Lower quality PBN sites may work for a time but eventually, you risk your network being de-indexed and/or the link juice devalued.
PBN’s are now the most popular type of link building in the black hat community. You can see endless ads for services selling PBN’s at the many black hat forums. They are actually so effective that usually once or twice a year a news story comes out about how Google uncovered a link network of some hugely reputable businesses.
If you are thinking of using PBN links to boost your site I will just say proceed with caution. As with any method that has worked in the past, usually Google finds ways to slowly close the loopholes and this could lead to penalties or just lots of wasted money.
What We Learned
In this tutorial, you should now have a good overview of what black hat link building is and some of the most popular methods used. You should also be clear on whether this type of link building fits into your strategy or not. Lets go over some of the main points.
- Black hat link building works best for “Churn ‘n Burn” strategies and should be avoided for sites with more long term goals.
- Automated software is the main way to create black hat links in bulk
- Spun content is replacing synonyms to make a piece of content seem unique to Google
- There are many different types of black hat links, some work better than others
- PBN’s can be very effective when done right but who knows what the future holds
Continue to the final chapter in our SEO Crash Course Part 9: Final Overview- SEO Tips & Tricks.