So by now, if you’re learning about SEO (search engine optimization/search engine marketing), you’ve probably heard of Black Hat SEO. What exactly is spamming as far as SEO is concerned? Ultimately search engines like Google, Yahoo, ask and MSN want to provide the most accurate and complete research results that they can to their target market. At the end of the day, a search engine is only as good as the results that it delivers to those that use it. If their audience does not have faith in their search capability, the traffic will dry out and so will the sponsored listing fees as well, and any other advertising fees that they’re able to obtain.
It wasn’t all that long ago (1994) that Internet marketers used various techniques to trick search engines into positioning their sites high in the search results for search terms that didn’t apply to their site. This was very prominent in the adult entertainment world as a matter of fact. It’s in my opinion; the inception of search engine optimization came from the adult entertainment industry.
Today, these techniques do not work for long-term search engine optimization campaigns. It’s true that you can obtain quick rankings in a very short period using “Black Hat SEO” ; however, usually it takes a great deal of work, and the results do not last very long. Once the search engines discover that you are trying to “Duke” their search engine, many of them may not list your domain at all. Search engines are programmed through their algorithms and robots to detect many of the techniques used in “Black hat SEO.” A few of the search engine tricks that used to work, especially pertaining to website design are:
Keyword stuffing — several websites repeat the same keywords over and over again on both the home page, and even places that you can’t see. They do this by hiding the keywords in invisible layers such as tag, and in meta-tags. Also, spammers will repeat those keywords over and over again at the bottom of the document. For example:“Maui attorney, best attorney in Maui”. There’s been much talk as to what is an acceptable amount of keyword stuffing, or keyword placement within the text of the document. As a rule of thumb I have heard that Google does not like to see more than 7% saturation, while MSN and Yahoo! Do not want to see more than 5% keyword density within any given page.
Hidden Text and Links – another tactic used by spammers has been hidden text and links. What they are doing here is simply hiding keywords from human eyes. By making the text the same color as the background of the website. There is no fooling Google, Yahoo or MSN with these old tricks as the “Google bots” have been able to spot these tricks. Another example of this might be hiding keywords in areas which are not visible, such as placing these keywords in style sheets.
Content duplication — I know that there are several other search engine optimization professionals that are completely against duplicate content, I do think it has its place. Why would I say such a thing? We should probably start as to why search engines do not like content duplication. Take for example a website that you already own, it ranks very well. You decide that you would like to have two sites on the first page of Google so you simply duplicate your first and post it under a different domain. Search engines want to provide unique content to their searchers; they do not want to provide duplicate content again and again. I should probably explain why I think duplicate content does make sense from time to time. If you’ve written an excellent article and published it with E-zine articles for example, I think it is completely within reason to go ahead and post that on your own blog or website as well.
Page swapping or cloaking — this is where the website owner has taken content from a top ranking site and placed it on their page to achieve the top ranking. Once they have achieved that ranking they replace that page with completely different content. Cloaking is very similar to page swapping. The intent of cloaking is to serve search engines one page while the end-user is served in other, not a good move!
Misleading Title Changes — making regular title changes so the indexing bots believe that your site is a new site. The desired effect from this is so that the site is listed again and again, this is considered misleading.
Domain Spam (Mirrored Sites) — this is very close to content duplication. Ultimately this is why the search engine’s do not like content duplication. Some web owners have duplicated their entire website or maybe even slightly modified their site and target under a different domain or URL. Usually the intention was to obtain more than one listing on the first page. In the end all this does is get you banned from practicing this type of technique, once again it is misleading.
Refresh Meta-Tag — I am certain that you have visited a website and automatically you were brought to a different page within the site, this is the result of a “refresh meta- tag”. At the end of the day you do not want to use a redirect unless it is absolutely necessary and I strongly recommend using a “permanent redirect” (301) which tells the search engines that the page they are looking for has a different home now. The preferred way to use a refresh meta-tag is to use a delay of at least 15 seconds or more and provide a link on the new page back to the page that they were taken from. Often times a website will use a redirect or refresh meta-tag to take visitors from a page that is obsolete and is no longer being used.
Cyber Squatting — this refers to taking traffic from legitimate websites. So for example let’s pretend that somebody was to operate a website called www.example.com it would be hoping to obtain traffic by visitors that have misspelled the domain that they were truly looking for. Usually when companies are doing this they are promoting completely unrelated contents to that of the site that they are trying to obtain traffic from. Google very much dislikes the cyber squatting.
Watch this video about Negative SEO:
So even if you do not understand anything about search engine optimization or search engine marketing, it is easy to see that none of the search engines tolerate misrepresentation, misleading searchers or tricky techniques. If the technique you are using on your website does not offer value to the end-user and it is done solely for SEO it is very likely that Google, Yahoo or MSN will take notice. Trying to avoid the hard work of realsearch engine optimization is practically impossible. Certainly you can avoid the hard work and go with a technique or strategy that will get you listed with Google rapidly, eventually that domain will get you delisted. At the end of the day it is twice the amount of work to optimize two websites quickly vs. optimizing one website in a nice slow and steady manner.