Remember those old Westerns? It was easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys by the color hat they wore. SEO is described in the same terms: black hat and white hat. As would be expected, black hat SEO uses shady to downright banned-by-Google methods that are as crooked as a dog’s hind leg to get users to your website. White hat SEO is ethical and follows search engine best practices and guidelines. I have recently started seeing some methods described as gray hat. I don’t know what that would mean in the Old West, but in the present day, this indicates methods that are somewhat questionable but not quite as in-your-face bad as black hat methods.
There are many different black hat methods. Let’s saddle up and look at a few ways that people try to trick the search engines.
- Keyword stuffing – Using keywords is still a necessity for SEO, but overloading your site with keywords is not a good strategy. It can make your website virtually unreadable by users, and it can also result in a penalty, placing your website lower in search engine rankings. And all those keywords you sometimes see crammed together at the very bottom of a web page? Just don’t do it.
- Meta tag and description stuffing – This is just a variant on keyword stuffing. Instead of in the content, the keywords are placed in the meta tags and descriptions. Keyword stuffing here probably won’t affect your ranking much as web crawlers aren’t that interested in your description of your site, but it could draw some negative attention. Also, the description is what shows up in SERPs, so you want to make sure it’s descriptive, reads well and is appealing to users. A clunky, keyword-filled description won’t inspire anyone to click through to your site.
- Invisible text – Believe it or not, some people still put hidden text on their websites in order to get more keywords on the page or to hide links. Invisible text can be read by search engines but can be treated as spam, so this is not a good tactic to use.
- Article spinning – Search engines like to see new content on a website. Some people like to change just a few things such as the title and a bit of the wording and present it as new content. This has no value to the reader and can lower your ranking. It is much better to employ a writer to come up with new, high-quality content that keeps users engaged with your brand and coming back to your website on a regular basis.
- Buying links – Getting links from a reputable, high-quality directory is something every website should do. Getting links from link farms or buying them from a directory that has no connection to your site? Not so much. Such unrelated, poor quality links will only have a negative impact on your website’s ranking. Be choosy and do your research. Don’t accept links from just any source.
Google and the other major search engines are very aware of how people try to chisel the SEO system, and they will penalize any lowdown varmints that don’t follow the rules. It takes a lot of time and work to recover from a Google penalty, so we reckon it’s best to not succumb to the temptation to use black hat SEO to begin with.
110RPM uses strictly white hat techniques and tactics. If you’re fixin’ to do some website optimization, contact us so we can be your pardners in helping you improve your search engine ranking.