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The competition among businesses has never been fiercer than today, and this real-world competition translates into a digital one. So, everyone who owns a website constantly strives to overcome the competition and climb up the ranks on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).

And, just like it is possible for competitors in real life to play dirty, your digital rivals can do so too – and they often do so by deploying unfair SEO techniques. These, which fall in the category of Black Hat SEO, can be extremely damaging for their site, but also for their competitors. If you have noticed the foul play of one of your competitors, here is all you need to know to report it to Google.

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What Is Black Hat SEO?

Before opening up a dispute with Google to report black hat SEO, it is important to understand what black hat SEO is. Usually, are considered “black hat” techniques are considered SEO strategies that go against or exploit the guidelines offered by the search engine to improve a site’s ranking.

Opposite to black hat techniques is white hat techniques. These are strategies that follow the guidelines offered by Google to boost rankings, taking into consideration the user’s intent and experience.

By tricking Google’s ranking algorithm, black hat techniques can offer short-term results. However, SEO is a long-term strategy, and using black hat techniques can be detrimental to your site’s authority and ranking in the long run.

Common Black Hat SEO Techniques

If you are about to report a competitor using black hat techniques, you need to know what these look like. The most common ones include:

  • A lot of low-quality and duplicate content
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Cloaking (showing a piece of content to the search engine and a different one to the user)
  • Using inappropriate or misleading redirects
  • Buying backlinks and using link farms
  • Spamming
  • Manipulated structured data
  • Negative SEO – sabotaging a competitor through black hat techniques

How Does Black Hat SEO Affect Your Site?

Black hat techniques can have severe consequences, including:

  • Inhibited search rankings
  • Short-term results
  • Poor UX
  • Affected site authority
  • Penalties

Of course, if one of your competitors is using black hat techniques, your site might also lose rankings. In this case, you should not think twice about reporting a website to Google. Here is how you do it – and some tips to manage your expectations.

How To Report Black Hat SEO to Google

If you have noticed that a competitor is using negative SEO or black hat techniques, you should report it to Google. You should consider this course of action is a site is:

  • Engaging in one or more of the techniques we have seen above
  • You have noticed that the top-ranking result for a certain keyword is irrelevant, spammy, or not offering any value.
  • You are the direct victim of negative SEO

To report black hat SEO, you will need to use the WebSpam Report tool offered by Google. Follow the guidelines to correctly report this event to the search engine.

Another useful way to let the search engine know that you are a victim to Negative SEO and black hat techniques is to disavow the links to your site. Google has a dedicated tool for this action as well.

Another website has falsely reported you

Depending on the search engine, you will find differently named tools, but they all act in a similar way.

Tips To Report Black Hat SEO to Google

When submitting a report for black hat techniques to Google, you need to keep in mind that there will be an investigation. Understanding what the next steps of the process are can help you speed it up. Here are some tips to file an efficient report:

  • Offer a detailed, actionable spam report as it will be most likely processed manually
  • Add as much information as possible about what happened. Make sure you include as much evidence as possible.
  • Provide details of the actions that have happened and examples of the violations.
  • Do not include a lot of irrelevant information that can slow down the process
  • Make sure you report all violations of Google Webmaster Guidelines
  • Don’t expect feedback as Google will not offer you information regarding the actions taken against the white hat techniques reported.

Lastly, it is important what to expect from submitting a black hat or negative SEO techniques. Google might review the evidence supplied and might apply a manual action. In turn, this can penalise the website affected and cause it to drop rankings. However, this is not always a definitive measure to keep that site below yours on the SERP.

In fact, it might take longer for the site to be back up at the top of the page – and, Google might even consider giving it a second chance! So, don’t just count on the actions taken and keep up with your SEO strategy. banner

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