In the world of SEO there are many do's and don'ts that you will encounter but there is also a lot of grey area when starting out in the world of SEO. One person may tell you that a technique is fine when in reality, it could get you banned from the search engines; there are many misconceptions of the proper way to optimize. It actually happened to me years and years ago before I was well versed in optimization and the proper ways to boost your pages in the search engines.
There are two main terms that you should be familiar with: Black Hat SEO and White Hat SEO. Black Hat SEO is what you shouldn't do. These are techniques that are used to try to fool the search engines and are usually against their terms of service & violate their guidelines. White Hat is what you should do to optimize your site; this is the good optimization techniques that are widely accepted, used and approved by the search engines. I'm pretty sure the term Black Hat comes from the old western movies when the bad guys wore the black hats. Makes sense, doesn't it?
So, What are the Black Hat Techniques that I Want to Avoid?
Keyword Stuffing - Keyword Stuffing is when an individual overuses keywords on the website and sometimes even using irrelevant keywords in order to get a higher page rank, higher in the search engines and more traffic. Those who use this Black Hat strategy have ways of hiding what they are doing by using invisible text or text that blends in with the page. More sophisticated search engines do catch the Keyword Stuffing and will not index the page or ban the page. Unfortunately though, some do slip through the cracks.
Cloaking - Cloaking is the act of displaying one webpage to the search engine (an accepted webpage) and a completely different page to the user who is clicking on the website. This is usually in an attempt to falsify what appears in the search engines so the unapproved website can get more clicks. I usually see this with websites that contain viruses, malware, spyware, sites trying to sell something or adult related websites.
Duplicate or Unauthorized Content - This includes copying posts from another website with a higher page rank without authorization in attempt to get the spam page higher results in the search engines. This also can include sites that use automated software called "Spinners" to "Spin" articles and posts so they generate a new order and new worded content based off the original stolen article. This can actually hurt the legitimate page where the article was stolen from because the search engines will pick up the text as duplicate content.
Spam for Inbound Links - Also called comment or post spam. This is when bots automatically post spam comments in attempt to get inbound links directing back to their website. These comments are very easy to spot and more often than not, have nothing to do with the content that they are commenting on. With new technology and plugins, most blogging platforms catch these comments before they actually show up on your posts and put them into a spam folder.
Link Farms - Link Farms are websites that do not necessarily provide traffic to the website but trick the search engines into believing that the website has many backlinks from other websites. Thankfully, most search engines have the mantra - "Quality over Quantity" and analyze the page ranks of the website that the link is coming from to determine if it is a quality backlink or not.
Under this category I will also put, Link Buying. Link buying is when a website buys links from another website in order to boost it's page rank. If you want backlinks make sure they are quality backlinks from legitimate websites with high authority. This is the White Hat way to get quality inbound links (backlinks).
Spamming Social Media - Automated Twitter accounts sometimes are used for nothing more than to get or buy followers and spam feeds with their links. They do this in order to get hits to their sites that (usually) sell products or promote adult content. These Twitter accounts are usually easy to spot as they will have either no picture and no description or an obviously fake photo and "Visit my website" as their description with their link.
So, Black Hat Techniques are Always Used by Spammers? Actually, no. Black Hat techniques are not always used by spammers. When I first started out in the world of SEO (10 years ago) I worked for a company (that will not be named) that used Black Hat SEO to actually optimize pages for their clients. (Physicians) I'm not even sure if the employer realized they were using Black Hat techniques because as I learned more about SEO and realized that the techniques I had been told to use were wrong, I did bring it up to my supervisor and he did seem shocked.
There are many people who work their asses off and use Black Hat techniques, though I do not condone such usage. In fact, I left that job because they refused to change their ways and refused to use the correct techniques to optimize. From what I hear, that company is still using Black Hat techniques. Shame Shame.
So What are White Hat Ways to Optimize?
Creating unique, quality content is one of the main ways to optimize your website properly. The unique, quality content should have correct keyword research & usage, a title that is optimized and catchy and content that informs and entertains the reader at the same time.
Using optimized Meta tags is another way of optimizing properly. What is a Meta tag? Well, just take a look below.
The description in Google (or any other search engine) is your Meta Description which should be properly optimized for the keywords that you want to be found with.
Quality Link Building is another way to properly optimize and get those quality backlinks that your website wants in order to build authority. It's much easier than it sounds but by building quality content and sharing your quality content, you have a larger chance of having your link shared even further or your content linked onto another site.
You can also join or submit your link to authoritative websites or directories within your industry, just make sure they are not spam sites before you submit your link or profile! This will be a start for quality backlinks!
Need help optimizing your website or being found in the search engines? Infopoint Virtual can help! Just contact us for a free consultation and we can assist you in getting your website in those search results!