SEO: Search Engine Optimization in Black & White
February 21, 2018
The first rule of thumb of professional web design is building a site with the consumer in mind.
There are generally three types of SEO techniques; White Hat, Black Hat, and Gray Hat - only one is ethically sound and gets better with time.
Black Hat SEO - This type of antagonistic technique is used by people attempting to produce quick results and make a fast buck. What they don't tell you is the search engines will eventually block your site from indexing.
- Search Spam, aka Hidden Text - This type of SEO is not view-able on the website, and is intended to only be seen by search engines. This practice is intentionally deceptive and is a violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
- Link Farming - Search engines use popularity for relevancy to rank websites. Not to be confused with Link Building, this technique artificially creates popularity by linking groups of websites together. Some call this Spamdexing, which can lead to a Google ban overnight.
- Doorway Pages - Deceiving users is a quick way to get on Google's Naughty List, and this tactic is a doozie. By using "bridge pages" stuffed with relevant keywords, visitors are unwittingly re-directed to the intended site. The guidelines are clear and this manipulative SEO is illegal.
Gray Hat SEO - Slightly less aggressive, albeit still not ethical. Some SEO providers will walk a thin gray line between all out spam tactics and ethical SEO practices:
- Article Spinning - Much like duplicating content, this tactic rewrites popular original content (sometimes using software to outwit plagiarism tools) and uses it on a different site. Beware copyright laws.
- Improper Back-linking - Purchasing old domains that have acquired authority with time and linking them to other sites is an unprincipled way to gain favorable search engine ranking.
- Googlewashing - Related to Spamdexing, this practice ["Google Bomb"] gives a website an artificially high ranking for unrelated topics through uninhibited linking. Some use this unscrupulous activity to drown out competition from SERPs.
Each tactic described above is a short term solution. Either the search engines discover the unethical/illegal SEO and bans the site -or- the search engines change their algorithms and the above practices become irrelevant.
White Hat SEO - True optimization using strategies and tactics designed for the user while following the rules. Patience is rewarded with improved SERP performance over time.
- Link Building - Increase popularity and authority by sharing links with other trusted sites.
- Site Optimization - Like art it is time consuming, tedious, and truly rewarding. Fine tuning your content and site layout is the cornerstone of SEO. The secret is original quality content, meta tags, keywords, and a well designed search engine friendly website coupled with a lot of work.