Why Does ‘Black Hat’ SEO Still Work?


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We’ve all heard the pronouncements from Google that the days of ‘black hat SEO’ are gone. Every update from Google seeks, they say, to punish sites that use spammy, shady tactics. Every update places a premium on creating content, a great UI, legitimate link-building, and authority-buildling strategies.

So…if this is true, why does black hat SEO still sometimes–maybe even most of the time–win?

Winning at SEO: Defined

Before we state that black hat SEO still sometimes ‘wins’, we must first define what ‘winning’ at SEO looks like.

It really isn’t complicated.

Winning at SEO means ranking high. For example, if you search a keyword, anyone in the top 3 for that keyword is winning. If you are on the bottom of the first page or lower, you aren’t winning.

Pretty clear.

Are Black Hat Techniques Really Winning?


We’ve read several stories about black hat tactics producing results. This is after the most recent Google update.

I’ll give you an example that hits close to home:

LogMyCalls typically either ranks at the bottom of the first page or top of the second page for the all-important keyword ‘call tracking.’ There are several companies–really good companies–that rank ahead of us.

At first blush, this is unsurprising because we’re the new kids on the block. We’ve only been around for a little over a year, and some of our competitors have been around for 20. They have more domain authority and substantially more backlinks etc.

But didn’t Google lead everyone to believe that producing unique, effective, fresh, quality content was the most important thing? Didn’t they say that social sharing of that content is critically important?

If that’s true, we should be blowing our competitors out of the water. We produce more content, and people share our content more regularly. That’s based on actual data.

(Obviously, our content strategy is working for traffic, but in terms of ranking for critical keywords, it hasn’t worked as quickly).

So…what’s the deal?

The Plot Thickens…

A few weeks ago we decided to start analyzing our competitors’ backlinks to figure out where they were all coming from.

What we found disturbed us.

We found that the majority of backlinks going to a few competitors’ sites (not all competitors) were utterly spammy and, at least, gray hat. I want to state clearly, that we don’t blame them for this. We’re not disparaging them. After all, these links, when they were created, likely weren’t gray hat.

For example, we’re talking about paid links, links on totally unrelated sites, links on fake directory sites. We’re talking about link farms.

According to Google these are inappropriate SEO techniques for which you will get hammered and punished.

So why haven’t they been punished by Google? Why isn’t Google giving credence to content, quality, and UI like they promised? Why aren’t they holding sites accountable when they have scores of bad links?

Again, I’m not blaming any of our competitors for doing this. Heck, if it works, we should start doing it too. (And if it works, it, by definition, isn’t black hat anyway).

Instead, I’m asking aloud, why does this stuff still work?

It is Happening Your Industry Too

If you analyze the companies that rank ahead of you for the keywords that are important for you, I GUARANTEE that you will find at least a couple (maybe a lot ) that have a ton of sketchy links.

Why does ‘black hat’ SEO still work? I invite your comments.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

McKay Allen
LogMyCalls is the next generation of call tracking and marketing automation. The award winning product from ContactPoint, LogMyCalls provides lead scoring, conversion rate tracking and close rate mapping. For more information visit LogMyCalls.com and call (866) 811-8880.


  1. Black hat will always work for a time. Google is always fighting these tactics and in the long run they will always fail. What black hat methods work today could end up costing you tomorrow.
    Its important to keep doing things the right way and in time these will pay off.

  2. Welcome to the real world 🙂

    Both the terms “Black Hat” and “White Hat” are outdated. There is SEO that works and SEO that doesn’t work – in this case both “Hats” work just fine if done right.

    I’ve heard this time and time again: “Black Hat will only work for a certain amount of time” …. I don’t think so. There have been sites using Black/Grey Hat (correctly) for a long time and are still successfully ranking for their money keyword.

    It’s alright questioning Google about policies they put in place – which they don’t (can’t) enforce but blaming them certainly is the wrong approach. Google is just a company and what does a company need to survive? You guessed right!

  3. Hi Harry, can you explain what black hat done right is? Think about BMR and all the article and link farms that have gone down over the last few years. All these black hat methods that work “well” become saturated and in time Google targets them and the methods they use.

    Can you explain these black hat methods that work well and have done for years?

  4. Hi Paul, thanks for that follow up. I’m not a big fan of “black hat” SEO as I do see the dangers within it. There are black hat sites that rank pretty high for competitive keywords and have lived and partially gained through both official Penguins – which makes you think.

    I am however not a 100% “white hat” guy either. I still buy links although that can neither be categorized as black or white as it depends upon the source – meaning no link networks but rather individual quality links or via platforms like teliad, linkworth, textlinkads that have a high or some kind of quality control on the sellers they let on their platform.

  5. Hi Harry, thanks for the feedback and explaining what you meant. Im glad you have some success with those 3 networks. I had not hear of any of them to be honest. I checked them out and they seem ok, what is the pricing like as I was not able to see any? Also I assume these are paid links? What type of volume would do you need or buy and what type of success have you had with them?

    Thanks again for getting back 🙂

  6. Hi Paul, glad I was able to explain everything well. All 3 of these platforms work with paid links, each has their strength and weaknesses.

    linkworth – A large English speaking portfolio and great service and support.
    textlinkads – Large text link portfolio. It’s also very easy to find your way around the platform, when compared to the others.
    teliad – Largest international portfolio for Western Countries (.com, .de, .fr, .es, etc.)

    Each of them offer different types of links (sponsored article, text link, etc.) and it can all be done through their self-service side, so the success rate depends completely on your bookings. You can see the pricing for each individual site when searching for potential topic relevant sites/blogs that fit your project – if you’re not happy with the price, don’t book it 🙂

  7. Thanks Harry for explaining them a little more. I will have a look into them and test them on a site or two and see what kind of impact they have.
    Once again thanks for your time and good luck with your online ventures 🙂


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