There are certain practices that the search engines tell us they do not approve of. This is generally known in the SEO world as “Black Hat” SEO. The search engines warn that they will punish website that employ these tactics and possibly ban the site. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of do-it-yourselfers use use these tactics simply out of ignorance. They heard using keywords in their text was good, so they just started sticking a bunch of keywords in the text without realizing that’s keyword stuffing and could hurt their site.
So, to be very clear. I’m telling you about these things so that you DO NOT do them. There are plenty of legitimate ways of ranking well in the search engines. There is no need to go to the dark side.
Here are a few of the more common “Black Hat” practices:
1. Keyword Stuffing: This is the practice of putting a bunch of keywords on a page, in a META tag, in an alt tag, etc. for the purpose of influencing the search engines. This is not to be confused with simply using keywords in these elements, but when you use the keywords you shouldn’t just stick a bunch of keywords in some chaotic fashion. The text should make sense and should not just be a list of keywords. You also shouldn’t use 500 billion keywords in any part of your page. Limit yourself to one or two keywords and only if it would make sense to your visitors
2. Tricking the Search Engines with Irrelevant Keywords: This is when you use certain keywords in the behind the scenes elements of a page to make it look like a page is about one topic, when the actual subject matter is something completely different. I’ve actually seen some churches doing this where they use keywords like “gambling” or some other vice in the hopes that someone looking for a gambling site will stumble across their page and read the Gospel or be told that what their doing is a sin. The page isn’t actually about gambling, but they are trying to trick the search engines into thinking it is so the show up in gambling related search results. It would be better for them to just create a page about gambling additions.
3. Doorway pages: Doorway pages are pages designed for the search engines that human visitors never actually see. Unlike cloaking, a human visitor may actually go to the page, but they are quickly redirected to another page, sometimes so fast that the visitor doesn’t even realize they were redirected. Build your site for your visitors, not the search engines.
4. Hiding Content: Along with Keyword Stuffing, this is probably the most common “Black Hat” technique because this is something average, everyday webmasters can come up with and implement very easily. Hidden content can be done in several ways. Sometimes people hide text behind a picture. Other times they make the text so small people can’t read it. Another common way to hide content is by making the text the same color as the background. However it’s done, the idea is to put text on the page that humans won’t see, but search engines will.
All of these tactics are designed to trick the search engines. The search engine people don’t like that. I never recommend using black hat techniques. Keep in mind that Google and Bing have both warned websites not to do these things and they have a lot of very smart people working for them. No matter how creative you think you are being, I guarantee you someone at Google and Bing have thought of it and created a way to detect it. So, don’t do them.
These tactics are just too risky and you should be able to get the same desired results from good SEO practices. Be aware, if you do use some of these techniques, you may get away with it for a while and may even see great rewards, but most sites get caught. In the end, it isn’t worth it if you get punished or banned!!
Let’s finish up with some final thoughts on search engine optimization.