Three Black Hat SEO Tactics to Avoid and What to Do Instead
It’s an inconvenient truth that the strategies of Internet marketers and black hat SEO practitioners sometimes overlap. This is because some legitimate strategies work for shady sites and some shady tactics work for legitimate sites. The problem is that the search engine spiders can’t tell if you’re intentions are pure—they can only tell if your methods smack of foul play. Because of this, it’s important to avoid some of the most common black hat SEO tricks, no matter what that consultant tells you. Here are some examples:
Black Hat SEO Tactic: Webpage Flooding
Webpage flooding is akin to building a cardboard army. A script randomly generates hundreds or thousands of pages of gibberish stuffed with keywords and interlinks it so that your site seems bigger and more substantial than it is. This tactic may have short term benefits, but once the search engines catch on, you’ll be blacklisted in a jiffy.
The white hat alternative: The principle of loading your website with content is sound, however. The more relevant webpages you have, the better your chances of getting linked, ranked and visited. So how do you benefit from having a fleshed out website without filling the Internet with garbage? Simple—start a blog with industry specific news, tips and articles. Publish a post a day on topical issues, and within a few months, you’ll have your 100 or more pages of relevant, keyword rich content. And it’ll all be legitimate and useful, too.
Black Hat SEO Tactic: Invisible Text
Padding the keyword content of your website by including invisible text (i.e. white text on a white background) was once an effective way to game the system. Now, moves like that will get you penalized.
The white hat alternative: Make a sitemap. Not only that, populate your sitemap using anchor text for your targeted keywords. You could even use some of the content you created using the above white hat tactic. That way, you get your all-at-once outpouring of keyworded text, but now, it’s actually useful to visitors and spiders.
Black Hat SEO Tactic: Doorways and Cloaking
One of the ways to solve the conundrum of pleasing search engine spiders and humans at the same time was to show one page to the spiders but another to the humans. This was achieved by automatically redirecting users once they landed on the page. That way, the doorway page could be keyword stuffed and incoherent while the page it ultimately led to could be readable by humans. Search engines didn’t appreciate this kind of switcheroo, however, and now the practice lands you in hot water.
The white hat alternative: Create keyword optimized landing pages. This is different from your homepage (what users see when they type in your URL) and they are different from doorways, too. A landing page is kind of like a personalized invitation. They are separate sales or welcome pages that are geared specifically to the search term that the visitor used to find your website. So, if you run a pet store, you could have your normal homepage that said something to the effect of “Welcome, pet owners!” and then separate landing pages for search engine traffic that say something like “Welcome, cat lovers!” or “So you own a dog?” Your landing pages can then guide your visitors to the pertinent parts of your website. In this way, your ranking high for target keywords and making the browsing experience easier on your users.
If an SEO tactic sounds deceptive or unconventional, it’s likely best to avoid it. Instead, try to pinpoint why a certain tactic works and work to find a solution that speaks to the spirit of the strategy, rather than the methods. Combine your knowledge of how search engines work with your duty to make the web browsing experience as intuitive and enjoyable as possible to invent your own ethical SEO practices.
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