by Terry Young
What Black Hat SEO is, and why you should avoid it
I'm sure that most website owners re-ceive emails all the time from companies claiming that they can get sites to the top of the search engines. However, on further investigation it becomes clear that these 'SEO experts' are using what are called Black Hat techniques. The term Black Hat originates from old cowboy movies where the bad guys were always easy to spot in their black hats.
This term covers the more unscrupulous methods some companies use to try to fool search engines into obtaining a higher placement. I have warned against such techniques individually before, but recently several of our clients have been approached by companies who make large claims for great SEO results and they are using multiple bad methods.
Rule #1 of SEO - Search Engines are not stupid. To keep valid search results, they are constantly being adjusted to recognise and weed out sites using Black Hat techniques like these:
1. Keyword Stuffing - This is where a page is literally stuffed with paragraphs of keyword gibberish aimed purely at the search engines like "hampton roads remodelers kitchen remodeling bathrooms kitchens." These are nonsense and the search engines can see right through such practices by simply checking for proper syntax, like your word processor does.
2. Hidden Pages - Whenever you see the word hidden, it really means deceptive. These are literally tens or sometimes hundreds of pages of keywords that are submitted to the search engines that normal visitors cannot see. They are designed to fool a search engine into thinking that the site is much larger than it actually is. This technique also uses keyword stuffing to try to get good search results. These techniques do nothing more than bloat your site with spam. As soon as a search engine discovers this, your site will be blocked.
3. Hidden Text and Links - This was one of the first SEO myths and goes way back to the late 1990s. It is also one of the fastest methods to get your site banned. As it says, this is text or links containing keywords that are the same color as the background of the page. They are easily spotted if you click and drag your mouse over any large, apparently empty areas of a site. They are usually at the bottom of a page. If there are any words or links there, they will become highlighted.
Once again, these are nothing more than keyword spam that the search engines will pick up immediately.
4. Doorway or Gateway Pages - I covered these very recently after a prospective client's site suddenly had no search results. Their web designer had put several single pages online, each with a different keyworded URL, like 'chesapeakeremodelers.com.' These keyword stuffed pages had links to the real web site. They were submitted to the search engines in the hope that they would get a high result and lead visitors to the main site. Again, this is pure deception and the effect is that each page will be banned individually. Furthermore, if there are enough of them, the site they lead to will also be banned.
These are just four examples of practices that can destroy a site's reputation. If your site is blacklisted, you have 90 days to clean it up or it will be banned permanently. We have never believed in using such methods to cheat a site to the top of the searches and possibly damage our client's business. Instead, our clients' high results are achieved by staying within search engine guidelines.
If you have concerns about your web site, call today and ask about our WebUpdate sites. These utilize advanced marketing, SEO promotion, and security methods to take your online business to a whole new level.
Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design. Since 1997,