Search engine optimization (SEO) comes in several different forms. There is white hat SEO which is playing by the rules of any sites you are dealing with, it also tends to be more natural and organic. Black hat SEO is the opposite. It’s breaking any rules necessary, and covering your tracks to keep from getting caught. Anything a black hatter can do to increase their site rankings is fair game (to them). Grey hat is simply any combination of the two. In reality, most people are grey hat, even if they are intending to be black or white hat.
Black hat methods vary, and it’s possible to do some of them unintentionally. So, does that make you a black hat SEO person? Not necessarily. While the search engines may penalize you if you are caught, it’s really a matter of intention. Ultimately, while black hat SEO may give you an artificially high ranking, which is better than a low ranking. However, by trying to game the system, you are the most susceptible to any changes to a search engine’s algorithms. In other words, black hatters may be in the top few listings one day and completely de-indexed the next.
The problem many people in internet marketing have is that they aren’t always sure if what they are doing is considered black hat SEO or not. While there are many different things you can do for search engine optimization, there are a few basic practices to help you stay on the white hat side of the fence.
- Stop stuffing. Your keywords that is. A common mistake is to assume that if using your keyword a few times will boost your rankings, then using them, even more, will boost your rankings more. This may be true, but only to a certain point. The first problem is that any of your visitors will find your message difficult to understand because too much repetition sounds unnatural. Secondly, any improvement in rank will likely be temporary.
- Do not use invisible text. This is a variation of keyword stuffing. What the black hatter does is use the same color for both the text and the background for any words they want to hide. While this may make for a better experience for visitors, the search engines see it as cheating and will penalize you for it if you get caught.
- Avoid doorway pages. In this sense, we are talking about fake pages that only exist for the purposes of attracting search engine crawlers. There is no intention of a living, breathing human being seeing these pages. Again, you may see a temporary increase in your rankings, but could be dropped from the listings completely when the search engines find out.
- Read and follow the terms of service (TOS). Just about any site you use to help boost your rankings will have a TOS. It is up to you to read and follow them to the best of your ability. Once you start looking for loopholes or justifications, you are moving into black hat SEO territory. So, if that happens, take that as a sign to do the right thing.
Doing the above things will go a long way towards avoiding black hat SEO methods. This is important because it will help you to naturally rank higher. You also won’t have to worry about dropping in the rankings if you’re caught doing something wrong.