Happy Halloween! As 2022 is coming to a close, it’s time to review both the best (and scariest) trends in digital marketing and search engine optimization. So, grab your candy, watch a scary movie, and get ready for the top 10 spookiest SEO strategies to avoid as we begin this holiday season.

Black Hat SEO” is a term coined by the SEO community, referring to tactics that often go against search engines’ guidelines and can potentially harm your client. These strategies often manipulate the search engine to boost rankings. However, these high ranks can fall quickly if you’re pinned with a penalty.

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Buying backlinks is a black hat SEO technique that goes against Google’s guidelines. Anytime there is a fee, there’s risk involved when backlinking. Be careful and always aim for quality, naturally earned backlink acquisition (i.e., guest posting, citations/sources, etc.).

While Google might not manually penalize a paid link, it can hurt your SEO due to poor-quality content. Oftentimes, paid backlink acquisition can be synonymous with spammy articles and keyword stuffing.

Avoid Low-Quality Content

Low-quality content is a term that gets referred to often but rarely defined. Avoiding poorly written content is pivotal to ranking well on search engines and boosting your SEO efforts, but what does it mean?

  • Inaccurate or even outdated content
  • Lacks expertise
  • Poor grammar/spelling mistakes
  • Short content (under 500 words)
  • Content that doesn’t fit the theme of the website
  • Spammy content or web pages with lots of ads
  • Content that is hateful or harmful to the reader

Google’s Guide to Helpful Content on writing quality, user-first content

Comment Spam

Ah, the dreaded email: “*insert username* commented on your post.”

Unfortunately, comment spam has become a popular black hat-SEO tactic. Oftentimes, website owners may find more spam comments than legitimate ones. “Comment Spam” refers to using a blog’s comment section or a forum (such as Reddit or Quora) to link back to your website to receive a backlink.

This form of black-hat backlinking is against Google’s guidelines, even if the comment is well-written. If the goal of the comment is to include your link, it’s best to steer clear.

This does not mean that you cannot use your website to provide value to others’ content. For example, if you stumble upon an article where your website or a link would be an excellent resource to users, try contacting the webmaster and asking for a naturally-earned link.

Misusing Structured Data

Structured data helps Google understand the content on your website. This schema markup is special to certain post types, such as job postings, recipes, reviews, and videos.

  • Implementing structured data that does not match on-page content (hidden structured data), such as reviews.
  • Using the wrong kind of structured data
  • Using shortcuts, aka using structured data when content is not present (i.e., adding job posting structured data to a webpage to boost visibility).

Google’s Guide on Misusing Structured Data to avoid Manual Action
Test Your Structured Data

Excessive Anchor Text

Excessive anchor text occurs when you utilize too many keywords on a page linking back to different websites. Whether the anchor text is the same or not, this can hurt your rankings. Additionally, this rule still applies when you use different anchor text that links back to the same website. Only link to internal or external sources when the content is of value to the reader.

Article Spinning with AI Writing Software

Article spinning refers to taking one or multiple existing articles and changing them to create a new, rejuvenated post. This is often done using AI software since AI scrapes the internet for information. Unfortunately, since these types of articles don’t add new, relevant, or sometimes even accurate content, they don’t add much value to your website.

With article spinning, you run the risk of:

  • Low-quality content
  • Improper grammar
  • Incorrect sentence structure
  • Plagiarism

All of which can hurt your rankings and SEO endeavors.


By avoiding these 6 black hat SEO tactics, you can axe the competition and stay on track to ranking higher, increasing traffic, and improving visibility. RiZen Metrics is a digital marketing and SEO agency in Scranton, PA, with hubs in Philadelphia (Fishtown) & New York City (SoHo). With creativity and data in mind, we can collaborate with you to create a white-hat SEO strategy that works.