This is the first post in a series about black hat SEO — the optimization methods that do not follow search engine guidelines and that focus on tricking search engines into ranking subpar websites and web pages higher than they would normally merit. Posts in the series will focus on the past, present, and future of black hat SEO tactics and why attorneys should avoid these methods when building their law firm’s web presence.

You can return to this post to find links to new entries in the series as they are published.


People have been trying to cheat Google for nearly as long as the search engine has been around.

Years ago, when Google depended on less sophisticated methods of ranking websites and returning relevant results to users, spammers figured out how to exploit those methods to their benefit. And as Google’s algorithm has evolved to put a stop to certain methods of cheating its system, those underhanded methodologies have continued to evolve, as well.

The search engine optimization world has come to know these exploitative practices as “black hat” SEO. Such methods are frowned upon by search engines as they are equivalent to trying to “cheat” the search engine for better placement in results pages.

But Google is significantly more sophisticated now, and many black hat techniques don’t work for long, if at all. However, that hasn’t stopped some individuals and companies from trying to find ways to get an unfair advantage rather than putting in the work necessary to build authority and trust with the search engine.

It’s important for attorneys to understand the way that search engines work (and how potential clients use them to find attorneys online). But it’s also important that attorneys understand the practices that can damage their web presence and the importance of staying on the right side of Google over the long term. Without that understanding, an attorney might engage in black hat tactics that cause their law firm’s website to lose the trust of Google (and potential clients).

In this series, we’ll discuss the past, present, and future of black hat SEO, and show you, the attorney, what you need to know about black hat SEO to keep your law firm website on the right side of search engines, and to make informed decisions about your law firm’s website visibility in search.

What Attorneys Will Learn in This Blog Series About Black Hat SEO

Here’s what you’ll learn about black hat SEO:

  • The past: We’ll discuss deceptive methods that spammers often implemented in the past to cause sites to rank higher than they’d otherwise merit.
  • The present: Some old habits die hard, and the same can be said for some black hat SEO techniques. Despite the fact that Google has cracked down on many of these methods, some companies and webmasters still insist on trying to get ahead in these ways (with little success). We’ll discuss black hat SEO methods that continue to rear their ugly heads (as well as why you should avoid them).
  • The future: Google’s algorithms are constantly improving, and with each update the search engine makes, those who choose black hat techniques over white hat techniques find themselves scrambling to recover. In this installment, we’ll discuss the future of black hat SEO.