A few years ago, “Black Hat SEO” techniques dramatically increased website rankings. Nowadays, using these techniques will win you a fast ticket to the ‘banned’ list on search engines. While many folks want fast results in SEO, one should understand the risks and/or repercussions for using such tactics. This practice is a deliberate manipulation of search engine indexes, and is undoubtedly ‘unethical’ in the SEO field.
- Duplicating Content
This is the act of literally duplicating pages for the purpose of making your website larger (increasing the number of pages, which would naturally boost your website relevance if the content is rich). Another way to duplicate content is to create something called a microsite, which contains the exact same content as the original site. This microsite is also used to increase the amount of inbound links to the original site.
- Creating Doorway PagesDoorways (a.k.a. portal pages, jump pages, gateway pages) spam the index of a search engine by inserting results for keywords/phrases. The purpose is to redirect visitors to a different page.
Doorway pages that trick visitors by redirecting without their knowledge use a form of cloaking. Cloaked content is hidden from the users, but presented to the search engine spider differently. The purpose of cloaking is to deceive the search engines so they display the page when it would not otherwise be shown.
- Link Spamming
You’ve probably seen these a few times – A website that is full of links to dozens of sites for a particular topic. These are called Link Farms. These are tightly-knit communities of pages referencing each other, existing solely for purpose of providing external links to these sites to boost their website rankings.
- Hidden Text and Links
An example of this is to create links that are ‘invisible’ to the visitors (sometimes disguising links/keywords by making them invisible by giving them the same color as the background). Again, this tricks the search engines into thinking the page is full of relevant links and keywords.
- Keyword Stuffing
This is the act of stuffing your webpage full of keywords in the meta tags or content. The abuse of this technique is the reason why search engines no longer pay much attention to meta tags.
So, now that you know a little more about Black Hat SEO, you should keep in mind that the risks far outweigh the temporary benefits of implementing it. Just ask JCPenney, who got caught gaming Google, and whose rankings dropped as a result.Technorati published a great article on how Google Says Goodbye to Black Hat SEO. Google changed its algorithms to find more high-quality sites in search (and block the cheaters in the process).
- Always put your users first. If you design your pages to be right for your audience, it will likely be okay with the search engines too.
- Create rich content. If your content is truly relevant, and contains information the users are looking for, you will set yourself up to be found organically.
- Build links logically, and regularly. Avoid the farms, for crying out loud. Don’t overdo it all at once (red flag). A little bit goes a long way. Just a few links from good quality sources are much better than hundreds of links from ‘spammy,’ untrustworthy sites.
- Plan ahead. The impact of your SEO strategies will come over time. So be patient, organized and consistent.
- I know it’s tempting to want to be found with every keyword under the sun, but sticking to a few specific keywords will bring better results.