Do you want to turn Google into your avowed enemy? Play wicked. Use SEO techniques which match the definition of Black Hat SEO—ignore search engine rules or present different content to the searchbot and the search person.
As About Tech says, “A lot of what is known as black hat SEO actually used to be legitimate, but a few people went a bit overboard and now these techniques are frowned upon by the general SEO community at large.” In other words, knowing what these techniques are becomes your first step to keeping Google and Bing smiling at your website.
Using black hat techniques might seem wickedly smart at first. When your site is smoldering in ruins, you may feel differently. Rebuilding is costly, not covered by insurance, and often leaves you with a worthless skeleton of a business.
Without keywords, search engine spiders don’t know what your website is about. They are essential. However, there’s a density at which keywords meant to inform become excessive. The consensus among SEO experts is that ‘keyword density’ is dead—unless you stuff your pages with them. At the same time, other experts suggest 2 to 4% remains a safe density.
In others words for a single word, you would use it no more than 4 times in 100 words. If you compare it to a mathematical equation, you would use the following formula. Number of times keyword is used ÷ by the number of words X 100 = keyword % (density).
However, what do you do with a keyword phrase? A three-word phrase used twice will have a keyword density of 6% in 100 words, using the formula: Number of times keyword phrase is used X number of words in keyword phrase ÷ number of words total X 100 = keyword % (density). This isn’t a problem unless you use a word from the phrase outside of it, as well as in it. Then your wisest strategy is to use keyword phrases carefully so you avoid repeating any words contained within.
Unless there is an overarching need to use a term frequently (such as in an article like this on a specific topic), keep Google and its competitors happy by keeping on-page keyword densities for any phrase and nouns within those phrases at 2 to 4%. Ensuring your readers understand what you are talking about trumps concern about word densities.
Google expects your keywords to match your business. Unrelated keywords suggest trickery. Google gets pissed!
Keep your keywords focused on delivering a positive user experience. If you use meta tags, then ensure the words you choose are related to the page, rather than the entire business. This ensures there’s less risk your keywords will trigger Google hostility.
Invisible Text and Hidden Links
This technique places content on the page that matches the background. So a page with a white background has ‘white text’ for example. Pictures may have text hidden behind them. CSS could position text off-screen, or a CSS class could use font sizes set to 0. Website visitors can’t see it, but Google can. Not good.
When you add video to your website, Google encourages you to add a description about the video in your HTML, or even better adding a transcript to the page. Using invisible text in the content is destructive to your SEO goals!
Hidden links are a major violation of Google policy. Matt Cutts gives an example of a hidden link he uncovered that leads directly to a porn site. At the same time, the way the link was inserted was designed to entrap someone into clicking the link accidentally. This is a primary reason any hidden link discovered by Google will piss the search engine off! It has not intention of sending innocent search users to such unsavory sites.
A doorway page isn’t the same as a landing page. It’s an HTML page that focuses on specific keywords, designed to lure search engine spiders to rank a website for specific keywords. However, once the search engine delivers the URL to the Search Results Page, the page redirects the searcher to another page. Google records this and doesn’t it like it! It assumes you’re hijacking the search user to something they didn’t want to see.
Rather than sparking Google’s ire, create effective landing pages. In this way, you’re attracting visitors with a higher likelihood of converting them into buyers on an actual page Google has indexed. That engagement is far better for your SEO.
Link Buying and Exchanges
Context is everything. If inbound links come from sources irrelevant to your website content, buying links is worthless! According to Forbes.com, selling links might be an advertising revenue builder, but it isn’t one Google smiles upon. Google also considers “sending someone a ‘free’ product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link” a link scheme. Will Google be able to prove you used a ‘scheme’? Maybe not, however, links coming from irrelevant sites should be avoided!
If a page attracts quality inbound links, treasure the content on that page! Don’t swap it out for something else. Google will eventually refresh its cache, and when it discovers visitors aren’t finding what once was there, you’ll be penalized for the bait and switch.
If Google catches you delivering one web page to its search engines and another to people, it’s a guaranteed penalty. Because this technique has frequently served up irrelevant search results, Google includes cloaking as a violation of its Webmaster Guidelines. Google’s #1 ranking depends on its efficiency at delivering relevant search results.
However, there are some situations where the cloaking concept is acceptable. For example, WordPress uses the nofollow attribute for comment links. This gets a plus, because you’re reducing the content the search engine indexes. You’re work with Google to ensure content is relevant to the user.
If you’ve ever read the material generated by article spinning software, you know it delivers content with a very poor reader experience. The English language is butchered. Even if you wrote the original article, making plagiarism a non-issue, spinning it with software only turns out a ‘unique’ post, but not one with increased value.
It may be tempting to use this technique to create the illusion of new content. It’s ineffective unless you edit carefully.
Rather than spinning articles with software consider repurposing it. For example, a straight-forward article on a specific topic could gain new life told in story form. It might be beneficial transformed into FAQs. The same facts could become an article on how to avoid ‘mistakes’ associated with that topic. How about a quiz based on those facts? If the topic fits, the same information could become a step by step guide or a checklist.
Using this technique, you aren’t spinning your articles into multiple versions of the same content. You’re using a new angle, which is so much more effective because it recognizes the different learning styles from which users approach content.
This type of repurposing is also a great way to gain more traction with your video content.
Abusing Rich Snippets & Search Snippets
The purpose of rich snippets is to communicate your unique value proposition clearly. They should help your potential customers see the value of what you offer in an instant. If you mark up content that can’t be viewed by users or mark up irrelevant or faked information, Googlebot detects it. Google then penalizes your website. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t actively using snippets for black hat purposes.
To avoid pissing off Google:
- Avoid adding a fake author profile photo.
- Never use a fake name, especially a popular one.
- Apply rich snippet markup to content viewers can see.
- Ensure product data is useful and verifiable.
- Show video thumbnails for real video content on the page. Never fake video previews.
Google isn’t a bully—not when you play SEO according to its rules. However, ignore the rules, and Google’s going to consider you a wicked player. It will not be flexible or cut any deals. No, it will act like it’s 10 years old. You broke the rules, so you’re out of the game. Google’s happy to be part of your team as long as you construct your website and do your SEO according to the Webmaster Guidelines. Play wicked and you’ll get exactly what the rule book promises—severe penalties.
PS - If you are using some of these undesired techniques and want to stop; download our free eBook: 10 SEO Rebuild Mistakes to Avoid below.