Black-hat SEO: definition, self-test and reporting

The term "black hat SEO" generally describes questionable search engine optimisation practices that can nevertheless increase the ranking of a page.

Such approaches generally violate the terms of use of the major search engines. They can lead to the pages in question being excluded from the search indexes and also from partner sites of the services.

A list of tactics and strategies that are considered black-hat SEO is publicly available in the Google and Bing webmaster guidelines.

How to prevent black hat SEO yourself?

If website operators are caught by search engines using black-hat SEO tactics, this can have serious consequences - up to and including exclusion from the index. You should therefore avoid being categorised as a "black hat SEO" at all costs.

You can find out whether there is a risk by answering a simple question: Does the SEO work I do bring real added value to search engine users or am I just doing it so that the search services rank my content prominently?

In the former case, you are safe. However, if you are increasingly doing SEO for the ranking and not for the users, it can become critical.

In this case, it is important to scrutinise the individual measures and compare them with the search engine guidelines. If you notice a problematic strategy that you are clearly using, it is better to correct the mistakes promptly.

How to report black hat SEO?

There are two typical reasons why you should report black hat SEO:

  • Either your website has been attacked by negative SEO or harmful links.
  • Or you see a spam website that is obviously using black-hat SEO ranked higher in the search engines for important search terms in your industry for which your pages also rank.

If your website is the target of a negative SEO campaign with spam links, use the disavow file in Google Search Console. This allows you to reliably "disavow" the harmful links. Firstly, however, you should try to contact the webmaster of the spam site to have the links removed directly.

In the case of obvious black-hat SEO sites that are stealing your ranking, you can submit a webspam report via the Google Search Console. However, please use this tool with caution. Falsely reporting webspam can be considered black hat SEO in the worst case scenario.

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