Prompted by this article at Beanstalk’s SEO News Blog, I’ve decided to address the topic of Black Hat v. White Hat Search Engine Optimization. Now you may be thinking..What is Black Hat or White Hat SEO?
Here’s a quick metaphor to answer your question: Think back to “The Wizard of Oz”, ( I know..it’s been a while for me too!) remember Glinda the Good Witch and Ms. Gulch the Wicked Witch? Glinda the Good Witch wore a white shiny crown while the evil Ms. Gulch donned a black witch’s hat. White v. Black, Good v. Evil. White Hat SEO is Good. Black SEO is bad. Simple.
Black Hat SEO is an underhanded method of attaining higher search engine rankings and traffic for a website. While these Black Hat SEO tricks and tactics work, they ARE considered illegal in the SEO code of ethics. There are literally dozens of Black Hat techniques..some of which are being born this very minute. Here are some of the most common techniques used: Keyword Stuffing, Hidden Text, Doorway Pages, and Duplicate Sites.
Keyword Stuffing consists of stuffing an enormous amount of non-related keywords on a webpage to attract search engine users who are searching for those phrases. In this example of keyword stuffing you will notice that the site looks like a legitimate product page for an “Eternal Life Ring” (Well…as legitimate as a ‘life ring’ sounds I suppose). But if you take a look at the source code you will uncover the hundreds of random keywords he has stuffed into the site. Although they are not overtly present on the page..they are crawled by Search Engines.
Hidden Text is content that is not visible to a user but searchable by search engines. Most commonly, hidden text comes in the form of text that is same color as the background. White background, White Text. Only highlighting the area with a mouse will uncover the hidden words.
Doorway Pages are pages set up to attract search engine user queries, however, if clicked thru, the user is automatically redirected to another site. Also known as spamdexing.
Duplicate Sites are just that, duplicates of existing sites. The duplicates are usually slightly tweaked with unique meta descriptions but have the same content. Basically they are used to attract more search engine traffic.
It is important when interviewing a Search Engine Optimization company to ask what methods they employ to help you gain top search placement. If they are using any of the above mentioned techniques, I would suggest finding another company. Using an SEO company which employs any form of Black Hat SEO could lead to your website being banned by the major search engines.
Some of the White Hat techniques that you DO want your Search Engine Optimization company to use include: Internal and reciprocal linking, Content Creation, and Onsite Optimization.
Internal Linking is a means of linking various pages within a website. For example, if I were talking about Maine Web Hosting, a link to our Web Hosting page would be considered an internal link.
Reciprocal linking is building links with various business partners and affiliations. Most businesses have a “Resources” page on their website. Asking for a link on their resources page is an excellent way of gaining links. In turn, you can reward them by putting their link on your “Resources” page.
Content Creation can consist of updated website content, articles or press releases. Writing fresh, updated and unique homepage content will encourage search engines to crawl your site more frequently resulting in higher search placement and traffic. Relevant articles and press releases distributed online can also create a large amount of traffic to you website.
Onsite Optimization is done to ensure that you have proper and unique Meta Descriptions, Keywords and Titles.
Now before you head down that yellow brick road in search of top rankings, remember that the Good Witch (aka. White Hat Optimization) will always lead you to where you want to go.