Search engine optimization (SEO) represents a critical component of any online business or site wishing to enjoy a large number of visitors. People who know even the most basic principles of SEO can implement them and reap the benefits. But, SEO has a dark side as well. Like most everything else in this world, there’s a right way and a wrong way to implement SEO.
The Black and the White of SEO
Experts, and the good folks at Google (or Bing), refer to allowable SEO practices as White Hat techniques; whereas, Black Hat SEO techniques could hurt your website’s Google Page Rank (PR), or cause Google and others to ban your site from search results entirely. Google doesn’t differentiate between Black Hat techniques used deliberately, or due to ignorance, when flagging a website as spam. So, while it’s important to learn how to properly use SEO techniques, it’s just as important to know what not to do.
The following techniques may initially result in a higher PR and large numbers of visitors, but using these black hat methods will ultimately result in an SEO epic fail.
- Irrelevant keywords – using irrelevant keywords in title tags and overstuffing the title tags with keywords, whether relevant or not.
- Keyword stuffing – inserting the keywords or phrases into page content too many times. This results in poor content structure and continuity, which disappoints visitors and increases the site bounce rate.
- Using irrelevant description meta tags – description that does not have relevance to the page content.
- Hiding keywords – this involves placing keywords on the page (often at the end of the actual content), but changing the font color to match the page background (i.e. white font color for white page background).
- Spamming – even the most novice website manager should know that sending unsolicited emails equals spamming – just don’t.
- Redirecting multiple domains to a single page – use original and 100 % unique content for each site you own and don’t interlink sites with identical or nearly identical domains to one another.
- Google prohibits selling links to your high PR site to other sites for the sole purpose of increasing the PR of the purchasing site.
- Linking to a bad neighborhood – carefully choose the websites you link to on your site. Google won’t penalize you if questionable sites link to you, as you cannot control this, but will penalize your site if you deliberately link to a link farm – a site that lists links for no other purpose than boosting PR.
- Duplicate or stale content – the search engines rank pages that regularly update with fresh, original content higher than those who don’t. Some site owners try to get around having to produce new content by churning old content. Churning involves re-publishing old posts and articles time and again.
Just Remember – Great Content Still Rules the Roost
No amount of White Hat SEO implementation or Black Hat scheming will take the place of meaningful, relevant content that offers your reading audience solutions to pain, new information, and an interesting read. Use SEO best practices, use them properly, and work hard to publish what your target audience needs and wants. It may take some patience, but you’ll see a great PR improvement and a growing number of loyal readers in the long run.