When it comes to effective SEO practices, it’s not always what you don’t know that hurts you. It’s what you “know” which is not true. There are many myths going around about SEO these days and if you begin to accept these myths as truth and put them into practice in order to build your SEO, you may find yourself MUCH worse off at the end than you were in the beginning. The purpose of this article is to separate the fact from the fiction in regard to some of the previously popular SEO myths that people still are trying to use, beginning with the SEO practices known as “Black Hat SEO.”
Black Hat SEO methods damage the credibility of your online business. This article will debunk some of the myths about off-page SEO in strategies that are meant to build your page rank and generate traffic to your site. Knowing these myths will help you to avoid becoming lost in the crowd of sites that are either generating no results for their owners or attracting a lot of unqualified traffic from visitors who end up leaving the site within seconds.
This article may not seem important to established SEO specialists who have been keeping up with all the latest changes, but for new business owners, the old methods are still out there, promising a brighter future….so this should shed some light on the tactics that only leave a business in the dark.
Note: Google has made it clear what it expects from website owners, and without following the strict and effective guidelines, you risk having your site penalized, or even deindexed.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black Hat SEO is a set of sneaky or aggressive SEO strategies that focus on only appealing to the search engines and not to human visitors. Black Hat SEO is most often used to make a quick buck off of a website instead of building long-term relationships with customers. It is this focus on a quick ROA, which causes some to use Black Hat SEO assuming that the risk of being banned or penalized by the search engines is worth the potential rewards. It basically tricks not only the search engines but your visitors into believing they are getting something more valuable than what you have to offer.
Black Hat SEO Methods
Invisible or Hidden Text
The first Black Hat SEO method is the use of text which is visible to the search engine spiders but not to people visiting your website. This can be accomplished by putting white text on a white background or by giving it a font size of zero. The purpose of this is to cram the site with keywords in order to get it to rank well with the search engines and to thus attract more visitors. Google clearly states that they are against this kind of practice in their SEO guidelines. This is because Google’s main concern is to provide people with relevant content when they type a search term into the Google search box.
The next Black Hat SEO practice is the excessive use of keywords for which the site owner wants the website to rank in the search engines. This Black Hat SEO practice is sometimes combined with invisible or hidden text in order to load a website with the keywords without them appearing in the content too many times. However, keyword stuffing is also done using unnatural repetitions of keyword phrases within the visible content such as in this example using the term “search engine optimization:”
Keyword stuffing is clearly something that would not appeal to a human visitor and is only being done for the sake of appealing to the search engine spiders.
Google has made it very clear with their latest updates that content is king, and when it comes to content, it should be useful, informative, and unique…not written around a keyword or keyword phrase, let alone stuffed with them.
This Black Hat SEO method involves complex coding which enables you to show one page to Google and an entirely different page to your visitors. This is a very sneaky Black Hat SEO practice and one which is not only despicable to Google, but it is bordering on unethical. After all, you are telling Google that if they index you that you are going to give your visitors something which you are not actually going to give them. Many sites have been banned from search engines because they have been caught using cloaking to boost their rankings.
A doorway page is basically a page that is created for the sole sake of ranking well with the search engines. Its content will not be completely relevant to the content of the site to which it directs you, it is simply created for the means of getting your site ranked. This is an approach that has been and still is, being used by many SEO firms. However, since these kinds of pages are being removed from the Google index frequently, SEO firms are calling them by different names. However, if the page is created simply for the sake of ranking your site and has no other valuable function you can bet that Google is going to treat it just as they could any other doorway page.
A link farm is basically a site that has nothing but a bunch of links and no content or value for the visitor. The sole purpose of a link farm is to rank with the search engines by filling a site up with ads that use the keyword for which the site is being optimized. The idea is that the use of the many keywords will get the site ranked with the search engines and that the site owner will then be able to receive a decent ROA by selling ad space to sites that have offers consistent with those keywords.
Since Google has now become more effective at locating misleading websites and penalizing or deindexing them, this practice is phasing out, but not quick enough.
Cultivating Good SEO Practices
If you look at all of these Black Hat SEO practices you’ll find that they have one thing in common: all of them are completely unsuitable for a human audience. They can also cause you to be penalized by the search engines which can cost you a huge drop in ranking or in some cases they can get your site completely removed from the Google index. In order to avoid falling prey to these penalties you can ask yourself these questions regarding your strategies:
- Are these strategies going to help me to build trust and credibility with my visitors?
- Could I accomplish better long-term results if I used a different strategy?
- Am I building a site to which I would feel comfortable referring my friends?
Remember, the search engines are marketing to the same people that you are and those people want the same thing from you that they want from Google, MSN, or Yahoo. They want to find the content they are looking for without having to get the run-around and be sent to a site that has nothing to do with what they are searching for. If you focus on giving people want, they want you will eventually win them and the search engines over.
Off-Page SEO and Why it is Important
Off-page SEO consists of methods that demonstrate to the search engines that your site is considered to be relevant and valuable by others within the internet community. For example, links from other sites leading to your site are meant to demonstrate that the owners of those sites consider your site to add value to theirs in some way. However, in attempts to demonstrate this kind of popularity to the search engines, many site owners have abused the practice of link building and done more harm than good in building their credibility and page rank.
Link Building Myth #1: It’s a Numbers Game
One of the most popular myths about link building is that it is a numbers game. This myth is based on the belief that if it’s all about popularity then you need to get as many “votes” as possible. This line of thinking is about as wise as trying to win a race for political office by submitting votes for yourself from dead people. You may end up with a lot of results, but if anyone finds out what you are up to your credibility is shot.
In the same way, it’s important to remember that in regard to popularity on the internet, quality and relevance are key. For instance, if you have a personal development site and you are building backlinks with sites about casinos, free phone cards, and Viagra it’s likely that those links are not going to be very valuable to you.
The first reason for this is that if it generates any traffic to your site, the visitors are not likely to stay for long. This is going to hurt your bounce rate, conversions, and on-site behaviors which will have a negative impact on your value with the search engines.
(For more information on how this can damage your page rank see our articles on the Google Patent Application)
Link Building Myth #2: All that Matters is Getting the Link
Another popular link-building myth is that all you need to do is get the link and you have a popularity vote. This is what causes people to post a comment on another person’s blog which is obviously nothing more than an attempt to build a backlink.
Building links simply for the sake of building links has many downfalls. The first one is that if the owner of the site has to approve the comment and recognizes it as a mere attempt to build a link, they are going to delete your comment or mark it as spam. As a result, you’ll waste a lot of time building links that end up being deleted. The other downfall is that it ruins the credibility of your website, as multiple site owners label you as another spammer.
Link Building Myth #3: The Bait and Switch Redirect
Your Best Line of Defense: Building Links with a Purpose
The best way to make sure that the links which you are building to your site are going to be valuable is to have a purpose other than simply building links. The best purpose to have in mind is to generate qualified traffic to your site. This means that if you are building a link that you are going to it in a place where your target audience can be found and in such a manner that they will get something valuable from following that link.
This will ensure that your links are relevant to the content of your site, that they are built at a natural pace, and that they will generate traffic which will aid in improving your bounce rate and even get you valuable conversions. If you spend a lot of time posting links that are not going to bring you qualified traffic which results in sales, you’ve just thrown a whole lot of time/money out the window.
However, if you build links by posting valuable content in places where your target audience hangs out and if that content provides a link to a place on your site where they can receive something else of value, you can rest assured that you are building the value of your site.
Google’s Take on Black Hat SEO
Cloaking and sneaky Redirects
Hidden Text and Link