The battle between ‘white hat’ search engine optimization and ‘black hat’ SEO techniques is an ongoing one in which the lines between what is acceptable and what is considered illegal is also slightly blurred. The field of SEO has certainly moved forward a great deal in the last few years and there are clear guidelines as to what is good SEO practice, however, there are still techniques to boost rankings that are frowned upon by the search engines. If caught, your website will bear the consequences and even years of hard work and legitimate effective SEO practices can be wiped out by taking short-cuts for a quick win.
Below follows a list of some of the common SEO techniques that ultimately do not add value to the searcher and as such, can be considered ‘black hat’ to varying degrees of severity. The consequences range from getting your website banned to certain legal ramifications.
SEO and your business
#1. Automatic / Duplicate Content Generation
The search engines reward websites which regularly update content by frequently re-indexing them and raising the rankings of those sites which are considered authorities in their fields. This leads to the practice of copying content or automatically generating new content for a website in order to simulate the perception of quality content being added to it.
#2. Link Farming
One of the strongest factors influencing the ranking of a website on the search engines is the number of inbound links to that site. SEOBook defines a link farm as a website or group of websites which exercise little to no editorial control when linking to other sites. Free For All (FFA) pages are link farms because anyone can link to them.
#3. Keyword Stuffing
The search engines have long been familiar with this practice and as the search bots are more adept at picking up information on the pages they crawl, it is becoming difficult to pointlessly overstuff keywords on a page for the purpose of artificially raising relevancy.
#4. Hidden Text
Though becoming more uncommon, websites still go through the practice of writing a great deal of keyword stuffed gibberish in incredibly small font and then making this text white on the webpage so that the human eye cannot read it. If you highlight an empty part of a white page, should there be hidden text behind it, it will appear behind the blue highlight. This is cheap SEO for which you will eventually get caught.
This practice involves displaying different content to users and something else to the search engines, generally to be ranked highly for a particular keyword. What this does is create a discrepancy in the user experience and will get your site banned when caught.