You may not have heard the terms “White Hat SEO” or “Black Hat SEO” before, but the search engines know which hat you belong under by how you handle your website. White Hat refers to search engine optimization tactics that are approved of by the search engines. MoreVisibility advises only tactics and best practices that are considered White Hat. Black Hat refers to darker methods that are designed to try to trick the search engines into giving a website higher search engine rankings. These Black Hat methods are often excessive and are against the search engine’s published best practices.
The following tactics are frowned upon by the search engines. We are identifying them here because they may be impacting your rankings negatively.
1. Link Farming
Link farms are groups of websites that link to one another whether they are related or not. If you have joined any such link farms by mistake or after promises of increased inbound links and thereby increased search engine rankings, you have been misled.
2. Doorway Pages
Doorway pages are pages designed to received search engine traffic and then feed that traffic by way of links to a specific site. This method is against best practice guidelines. These pages are also known as portals or gateway pages.
Cloaking is a technique of trickery. The purpose of cloaking for SEO is to deceive the search engines. If you are delivering one version of content to search engine spiders and another to your visitors, you may inadvertently be cloaking.
4. Manipulated Page Text
This can include Hidden Text, which is text that is hidden from a visitor to your page but may be seen by search engines. Text that is the same color as the background of a page or made to be a very small font or placed behind an image through use of code are all Hidden Text techniques. Do not purposefully hide text from your visitors.
Keyword Stuffing is also a technique that manipulates page text with the belief that it will help search engine rankings. Keyword Stuffing includes trying to cram keywords into the meta tags or including a keyword or keyword phrase so many times in the body copy that a person reading the page would think it excessive. Best practices are to write for visitors first and foremost.
5. Buying Links
Money doesn’t buy happiness and it can’t buy higher search rankings either. You may have heard this phrase or a similar one while growing up. It holds true in SEO. Be wary of anyone offering you an easy way to buy your way to the number one spot on a search engine. There are certain practices in this category that are given a free pass — for example, paying for membership in an industry organization and receiving a link from the organization’s page back to your website — but these are unique and involve a relationship or relevancy.
Contact us if you are unsure of whether you are currently abiding by the search engine’s best practices or if you are interested in hearing more about our search engine optimization consulting services.
P.S. In case you haven’t read them:
Webmasters faced with building a new website or updating an existing one are often overloaded when told that the site must be search engine optimized. We put together this as a handy checklist for you to use during development. This list is just a foundation of some of the most important elements we have identified. Feel free to leave additional questions in the comment section of this blog post.
Please let us know if you have any additions to add to our list of SEO building blocks webmasters should have when developing a website.