White-Hat SEO vs Black-Hat SEO: What You Need to Know About the Dark Side

White-hat SEO vs black-hat SEO is one of the most talked-about subjects in online marketing circles, and with good reason. To understand why black hat techniques are the wrong way to go, just ask yourself why more people don't turn to crime as a way to make a living. After all, the inducements include high pay, an exciting career, and the option to simply ignore inconvenient and burdensome rules and regulations. Fans of the show "Breaking Bad" can testify to how central character Walter White went from broke school teacher to millionaire meth cook virtually overnight by turning to the dark side. So why not follow his example? After all, what could go wrong?

Well, plenty can go wrong, as the show revealed. Fact is, putting on the black hat and becoming the bad guy is fraught with liabilities that more than outweigh the perks. This is just as true in the world of SEO as in the field of criminal justice. While trying to game Google's system might not get you arrested or killed (hopefully), it can lead to consequences like these: 

  • Search engine rankings that crash and burn overnight. One day your site might be number three and the next it could be buried in the nether regions of the SERPs. This happens with disturbing frequency, since the experts at Google are constantly on the prowl for cocky, careless people who break the rules. When they find them, they slap them down - hard.
     
  • Long-term penalties that could haunt you for years. Imagine having your site banned from Google altogether. What would that do for your business prospects? Even if you back-pedal and cover up your misdeeds, you will put yourself through endless hours of needless work and anguish. Who has time for that?
     
  • A gnawing sense of unease that will haunt you day and night. Even if you get away with using black hat techniques for a little while, you will never know when Google will up its game and catch you red-handed. It doesn't matter if you break the rules yourself or hire an unethical SEO firm to do it for you. Either way, you'll live your life perpetually uncertain of your future prospects -just like a criminal who skirts the law.

Common Black Hat Techniques

While we never approve of unethical SEO, we present the following information so you'll know if you're dealing with the wrong people. If your SEO company uses any of these tactics, then run away from it as quickly as you can:

  • Doorway pages. This is when a site admin creates a keyword-loaded site that serves as a gateway to the real URL. The doorway page has little or nothing to offer visitors. It's sole purpose is to trick the search engines into awarding higher rankings.
     
  • Cloaking. This technique presents different information to the search engine spiders than to site visitors. The site Google sees is loaded with terms designed to give the main page an artificial boost. 
     
  • Invisible text. This tactic loads a site with keywords but presents them in white text, so that Google sees the terms but not the human eye. As with all black hat methods, this one is intended to boost rankings without giving visitors added value.
     
  • Spam comments. If you run a blog of your own or visit others on a regular basis, then you have almost certainly seen this trick in action. It's also sometimes used on news sites. A human being or an app displays a comment that has nothing to do with the site content, including a back link to an unrelated URL. 
     
  • Keyword stuffing. This is an oldie but a baddie. It relies on cramming a keyword term into a site's content purely for the purpose of boosting rankings. If you see a certain phrase inserted over and over nonsensically, then you're probably looking at an example of this method.

As we said before, Google is wise to all of these tactics, as well as other tricks the black hat people devise. The search engine giant's wrath is too terrible to risk, so why take the chance? Instead, build your results rankings the ethical way: by working with Google's rules instead of against them. That's where we come into the picture. Our expertise can help your site to enjoy higher visibility and your business to realize greater profits. Plus, you'll never have to lose sleep wondering if "they" are on your trail. To find out more, contact us today.

Trenton MillerComment