Avoiding Black Hat SEO

SEO

Google, yahoo, and bing have strict rules and regulations for website owners who wish to get listed and ranked highly in their indexes.

But, certain techniques have been, and continue to be, used by desperate webmaster’s and SEO consultants to illegally ( in search engine terms ) boost their search engine rankings – all such practices are referred to as “black hat SEO“, or “spamdexing”.

Although black hat SEO is far less widespread these days, do not make the mistake of believing that it is no longer practiced – it is!

If you hire the wrong search engine optimization consultant, you could find your website penalized ( usually characterized by a significant drop in search engine positioning ), or even worse, banned altogether.

But, what is black hat seo? Why is it less common these days? And how can you protect yourself from it?

Firstly, black hat SEO nearly always involves the practice of keyword stuffing – that is, the repetition of a certain keyphrase in the meta title, meta description, and meta keyword tags, as well as in the body of the web-page content.

Such content contains so many instances of the target keyphrase that the content is totally unnatural to a human reader.

This leads to the practice of invisable text – ie, white text on a white background. This way, a ludicrously high keyword density is maintained on the page, but a lot of the text isn’t visable to the naked eye. Therefore, the page content reads a lot better.

There are more advanced ways of doing this is – through the use of css ( cascading style sheets ), for example – but the end result is the same.

Tiny text is also used to the same end. And, even though the meta keywords tags are invisable to most website visitors, keyword stuffing them ( especially with keywords that aren’t included in the page content ) is also a black hat tactic.

Other examples of black hat seo are mirror sites ( exact duplicates on different domain’s ), link farms ( pages with loads of outbound links and no content ), and doorway pages ( which redirect visitors to a totally different site ).

Happily, the search engines are amazingly sophisticated these days, and most of these techniques don’t work anymore, so they aren’t very widely practiced.

But, the search engines still use computer algorithms, and computers, no matter how advanced, can never be a match for intelligent human beings – so the fact is, new spam tactics are being discovered all the time, even now.

As well as new black hat tactics ( which will only work for a while, before they are discovered and stamped out ), there are a number of consultants still perfectly happy to employ 2004-style keyword stuffing, which can, at the very least, seriously weigh your website down in the search engine results pages.

So, what can you do? Firstly, if you are doing your own SEO, make sure you avoid inadvertently doing any of the things listed in this post.

Secondly, whether you are doing DIY SEO or employing a consultant, read the google, bing, and yahoo webmaster guidlines, and visit google webmaster central regularly for advice on what’s acceptable, and what’s not.

Thirdly, if you do grab yourself an SEO consultant, make sure they are highly qualified and willing to disclose their promotional activities via detailed SEO reports.

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