SEO experts are always updating their knowledge and skills to be competent and successful in the highly competitive and ever-changing SEO sector. The most frequently heard terms in SEO are ‘black hat’ and ‘white hat’ techniques, which are actually derived from the Western movie conventions, in which the good guys used to wear white hats, and the villains wore black hats.
Definition of white and black hat techniques
As far as search engine optimization is concerned, white hat SEO describes the standard set of strategies that are approved by search engine TOS (terms of service) and the black hat techniques are those which violate these.
Black hat techniques, which are now categorized as spamdexing entail manipulating the relevance of web pages by tweaking how the search engines perceive a website.
Black hat examples: Some of the major black hat techniques are hidden text, blog comment spam, cloaking and so on.
The current white hat techniques aim at offering the users top quality content that is relevant, accurate, informative and well arranged.
White hat examples: Techniques like using the most relevant keywords and phrases in the title tag, h1 tag, and proper anchor text of internal and inbounds links are examples of white hat SEO.
What both these have in common is the desire to enhance a site’s visibility. However, the ways to achieve this goal is entirely different in both the practices. In the past, when search algorithms were not as smart, black hat tactics used to yield favorable results. Now they have the exact opposite effect. If a website is caught guilty of violating Google’s rules and regulations regarding optimization, it can receive the harshest penalties in the form of lowering ranking in the SERPs, reduced traffic flow, decreased performance, and even de-indexing of the site.
To keep your business legitimate and trustable, you must always avoid the black hat SEO techniques and embrace top-notch white hat SEO practices.
Seven Black Hat techniques you should avoid
If you own a website or assist someone in search engine optimization, here are some of the notorious black techniques, which you should stay away from.
1. Keyword stuffing and stacking
Avoid: Repeating keywords to a greater extent that it sounds like a nuisance in an article or alt text of images.
E.g.: “Beautiful picture frames with pictures.”
Right: Always write sensible sentences with minimally reasonable keyword density. Never repeat keywords endlessly, and instead use logically related words based on the context.
E.g.: “Our photo framing service can accommodate photo formats of small to large sizes.”
2. Using unrelated keywords
Avoid: Adding irrelevant keywords to the text expecting more hits.
E.g.: “Timothy uses Kent vacuum cleaners for his pet care.”
Right: Internet marketing specialists suggest not to lose focus on the topic of discussion for the users to find what they are searching for in the right context.
E.g.: “Kent vacuum cleaners can suck up dirt, dust, and hair shed by pets, keeping your house clean.”
3. Hidden text, hidden links, tiny text
Avoid: Simply stacking scribbled text at the bottom of the page, hiding text by making it the same color as that of the background, or putting links by using text formatting or images which are visually undetectable.
Right: Always write quality content to be read by the users to gather relevant information, contrast the text with an appropriate background color, and include relevant links.
4. Gateway pages/doorway pages
Avoid: Stuff the pages in a haphazard way with keyword phrases to achieve a high ranking and then direct the visitors to another page.
Right: Create appropriate landing pages or information pages for specific purposes which are intended to purpose and rich in content.
Avoid: Presenting the search engines SEO friendly content, whereas displaying a different set of poor quality content to the site visitors.
E.g.: A user searches with a keyword, i.e., “best cell phones” and clicks on a search result link which appears to be something related to mobile phones, but the actual web page contains pornographic or irrelevant content.
Right: Always be honest and make web pages that have an accurate description of its contents for the search engine as well as for the users.
E.g.: A user searched for ‘iPhone 6′ and is taken to an authorized franchise page.
6. Page swapping
Avoid: Get a particular page indexed first and bring it to the top ranking, but later replacing the same link with another page.
E.g.: Getting the users to click on a high ranking website that displays one description, and then landing them on a page which consists of an entirely irrelevant content.
Right: Keep on updating the web pages regularly, but by keeping the topics on the pages intact.
7. Mirror site/duplicate content
Avoid: Copying content from another website with or without permission to create a mirror page and expecting to steal that page’s traffic.
E.g.: A website which reprints an article from elsewhere by seeing it is attracting traffic.
Right: always quote the text in small chunks in case of taking text from another page, source, and always write the original content.
E.g.: An article related to the quality of a particular car stereo brand may quote reviews of it from other websites.
This list covers the major black hat SEO techniques, but there are more such shady methods which you should avoid for long-term benefits. It is not just all about the ethics, but black hat SEO may also now lead to damaging your reputation, acceptance, and ultimately getting your site blacklisted and banned by the search engines.
Remington Wais is a lead author and marketer who used to write blogs and web articles about local Rochester Internet Marketing techniques and successful SEO practices for the newbie. He has a large following on social media.