The SEO industry has seen its share of horrendous grey and black hat approaches for many years. It is truly amazing to me that I still see these spammy approaches being implemented by so called white hat SEO firms. For those of you that don’t know what I am referring to when I say a black hat SEO, here is a link that contains some good information, here. Simply put, white hat SEO is “by the book” or closely following the webmaster guidelines of the major search engines. Black hat SEO is any technique that games or tricks the “system” or search engines to make ranking pages and generating visitors from organic search move faster.
My philosophy is and always has been white hat. I personally believe that is you are building business then it is always good to play it safe and stay white hat. Black hat is a different philosophy (that I do not agree with) but still none the less a different type of philosophy. Some great white hat SEO sources of information that I recommend are: Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, SEO Journal and Search Engine Guide.
SEO is a form of inbound marketing and it is important to stress “marketing” is a main ingredient. Search engine optimization is not about (or should not be about) tricks or the latest “thing” it is about creating good quality content, targeting the right relevant keywords for this well written content and driving relevant links to your website over time.
There are hundreds of black hat SEO techniques (many of which I did not cover in this blog post) but these are some of the black hat techniques that I have recently seen and how to change them over to a white hat SEO approach:
- Hidden Text (also known as cloaking): Believe it or not, I saw this on a website recently…this is so ineffective! If you are still hiding text on your website for search spiders to read you need a crash course in modern SEO and what it is to really use marketing to build a websites brand online. Hiding text the same color as your website background is a guaranteed way to either receive a nice little penalty or just a natural distaste in your web audience’s mouth if they should find the hidden text.
Make This White Hat by: Not adding ANY hidden text to ANY page of your website!
- Massive Submissions: What I mean by massive submissions is that paying someone to write 5,000 articles and submit them into directories is not marketing or effective link building. The is like throwing a can of paint and hoping it paints the room, all it’s going to do is make a mess you have to clean up. This was a popular (not too effective) approach many moons ago ago but the search engines are smarter than they once where and these types of efforts just won’t have the impact that you are looking for.
Make This White Hat by: Writing good quality articles about topics that are relevant to your business and the audiences of your products and services. Distribute your article to individual good quality article directories (only ones that people might read). Over time guest write for industry specific blogs or websites. Beyond getting a link these types of links generate visitors to your website.
- Oversized Websites: Reduce the useless content bloat! If you own a business that truly requires having 1,000 pages filled with useful content than that is fine because it is a part of your business and you need it. If you are a local dentist there is most likely no reason why you should have 1,000 pages on your website. Chances are you are just trying it manipulate the search results which will really not help anyone. I always say if you want to target visitors within 20 different local towns, target the local major cities first, then use other forms of search marketing (such as PPC) to target the 18 other variations on your site. There is no need to create a page for every town with tons of links at the bottom of each page, unless you have a good reason to do so!
Make This White Hat by: Only having content that is needed to educate your potential visitors on your website. Enhance the visitor experience of your website, don’t confuse your visitors.
The white hat or black hat SEO approaches that were used 5 years ago do not work today. If you are an SEO professional, marketer or business owner, spend the time to re-educate yourself into the best SEO approach (white hat hopefully!) for you and your business.