The world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is filled with a lot of shady characters and black hat tricks. Most sites use legitimate SEO tactics to gain search engine exposure, but a large number of websites resort to shady “black hat” tactics to try and game the system. Sometimes these attempts fail from the beginning, and some work for a little while, but ultimately search engines catch on and sites become penalized for their black hat tactics.
Below I will outline a few common black hat SEO tactics and their legitimate counterparts.
Flooding is the act of having large numbers of script-generated pages to fool search engines into believing you have more content than you actually have. These pages use keyword stuffing to try to fool Google into raising the site’s ranking. Sometimes they are done in the form of doorway pages that are stuffed with keywords for the search engines but redirect the visitor to a human-friendly page. Once search engines catch on (which is usually very quickly) you will be blacklisted.A better alternative: Skip the fake pages and just focus on making your real content better. It’s a lot better to have less content that is legitimate rather than having fake or half-baked content for the sake of having a lot of content. If more content is your goal focus on creating quality content that visitors want to see and in the long run you will be more successful.
- Invisible Text
In the mid-2000’s invisible text on websites was more popular than ever. A lot of websites had invisible text, usually at the bottom of their pages, that was stuffed with keywords. This tactic worked for a little while, but Google and other search engines quickly realized what was going on and started penalizing sites for this. Despite pretty wide spread knowledge in the web design community, many webmasters and designers are still using this tactic, as unsuccessful as it may be.Try this instead: Focus on properly wording your content so that you incorporate popular keywords and key phrases. Use descriptive phrases for links instead of “click here.” Use header tags correctly. Header tags are a great place to incorporate keywords, and the bigger the header tag, the more important it is to search engines. Just be sure not to engage in keyword spamming or your search engine ranking and visitor return rate will suffer.
- Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is the act of stuffing meta tags and content pages with keywords to the point where it is not reader-friendly. Keyword stuffing is adding text to your site solely for the purpose of increasing your search engine ranking. An example would be “We sell wooden stakes, stakes made of wood, wooden posts, wood stakes, stakes, wood posts, etc.” This kind of text is not meant for the reader but simply for search engine ranking, and search engines are catching on.A better solution: Write well thought out content that visitors actually want to read. You can incorporate relevant keywords as long as the content is still visitor friendly, but don’t go overboard like the example above. Even if you succeed in fooling the search engines for a little while, if visitors don’t want to use your site you won’t make money. Focus on creating great content and people will want to share your site and link to you, which will help with SEO.