I was at the movies last week and recetly saw a preview for the new movie that just came out called "blackhat". It happened to trigger some thoughts and questions about a subject that is important and controversial when trying to make a website more searchable.
Black-hat vs. white-hat is usually referred to when speaking about hackers – but it is also used when talking about "good" vs. "bad" SEO practices. While it's important to stock your posts with strong and relevant keywords, stay away from things like "keyword stuffing" in order to protect yourself from getting banned from a Google search. There are a few things you SHOULD NOT do when trying to optimize your site for Google, including keyword stuffing.
What is Black-hat and what is White-hat?
The terms "black hat" and "white hat" come from old western stories and movies where the villains wore black hats and the good guys wore the white hats. Many SEO experts still debate exactly which practices are considered white hat vs. black hat. The most important difference is that white-hat SEO helps Google to deliver quality results to user while working within the existing rules. On the flip side, black-hat SEO involves manipulating current boundaries in Google's software to try and trick it into ranking a particular web page that would normally not have ranked using the traditional (and correct) best practices.
HubSpot guidelines provide an excellent rule-of-thumb: if a given technique is not improving the experience for a user and it can be detected by a human doing a manual review, then it's not a good idea. It is never a good idea to mess with Google. You run the huge risk of having your entire site penalized or banned completely from Google for good. Here are some things that you should stay away from.
Keyword stuffing is overpopulating pages with certain keywords in hopes that Google will rank the site higher. This trick is no longer effective. Search engines figured it out and made sure it didn't work, but people still try to do it.
A link farm is a group of websites that all hyperlink to every other site in that group. Some of these link farms can be created manually, but automated programs, computers, and other services create most. When people found out that Google was using a feature called PageRank to weight and distinguish links, the alternative link farms emerged. This practice is black-hat SEO strategy because, due to the linking to each other within the link farm sites, they work in unethical ways to increase the rank of a website. Search engines are trying to counter this method by identifying specific attributes associated with link farm pages and filtering these pages from their search results.
Automated Content Generation:Well, it's obvious that search engines like content! It also happens to be one of the biggest cases for inbound marketing. Search engines also like content, posts and websites that are frequently updated. As most of us know, creating amazing, original, and quality content is something that takes time, money, and energy. In order to gain more attention and get Google's spiders to index more pages from a site page more often, some may try to auto-generate content. Sometimes this means there are entire pages of content filled with gibberish that makes absolutely no sense to the reader but will contain some keywords. This goes hand in hand with the link farming. Unscrupulous users are filling up bogus sites with unreadable keyword-stuffed content. Users may also "scrape" content from other sites and then republish it to their sites. This practice is not only unethical, but is penalized by Google and could get you in to some big trouble withcopyright laws. Google filters through these sites and separates the gibberish from the quality content.
Google refers to cloaking as the practice of presenting different content or URLs to human users and search engines. This, in particular, is considered a violation of Google's guidelines because it provides users with skewed results, which they weren't expecting. This is a very quick way to get your site banned by Google. All it takes is an employee of theirs to visit your site manually and check if you are cloaking.
This is a pure violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines and is just plain deceptive How do people use hidden text? There are several ways but here are a few as described by Google:
- Using white text on a white background
- Locating text behind an image
- Using CSS to position text off-screen
- Setting the font size to 0
- Hiding a link by only linking one small character—for example, a hyphen in the middle of a paragraph
Even though the user cannot view the content or the links, a computer or a search engine will still recognize it. Although this may be a little bit harder for Google to detect, it isn't impossible and is not worth the risk.
Keep it legal. Don't try and justify a higher ranking by using deceptive black-hat SEO strategies. Using these strategies can end up getting your site penalized or even banned from Google search. Check out our keyword blog to learn about the right way to choose the best keywords for your site! This will help your site rank the legal, and ethical way.
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