SEO (search engine optimisation) has become a mainstream marketing practice used by businesses large and small, all over the globe. Most companies recognise that to take advantage of the keyword searches within their markets they need to outsource their SEO to a specialist online marketing agency. What a lot of these businesses aren’t aware of is that there are two different types of search engine optimiser: white-hat (ethical) and black-hat (unethical). Choosing a black-hat SEO could mean techniques are used that go directly against what the search engines favour.
If black-hat is bad, then why does it exist?
There are two main reasons why SEO’s aren’t all using white-hat, best practices techniques to improve client rankings:
1. Black-hat SEO can work. It can bring in quick results but the downside is it opens your site up to long-term risk. If you have agreed to pay a search engine optimisation to get you to the top of Google then white-hat techniques can take months, whereas using some unethical tricks they could have you there a lot quicker. The problem you’ll face is that once Google spots that these methods have been used to manipulate the search results you will soon find your website has been penalised or even dropped from the index altogether, resulting in plummeting traffic levels.
2. Black-hat SEO is easy. A lot of research is needed to stay ahead in search engine marketing. At Liberty we spend tens of hours each month and thousands of pounds each year on researching and testing the latest techniques. For many companies this isn’t an option, so they choose to stick to old black-hat techniques that they know inside out.
What black-hat techniques should you look out for?
The most common types on unethical optimisation include keyword stuffing, cloaking and invisible text.
Keyword stuffing – When keywords are used in too great a volume. You will no doubt have seen this on websites where the same keyword is repeated over and over in a piece of copy or where a long list of keywords are bundled together at the bottom of a page.
Cloaking – Presenting one version of a page to the search engines and another to the visitor. If you’ve ever searched for something and found yourself surprised that the website you clicked on is for something completely different then this is probably an example of cloaking.
Invisible text – Making the background colour and the colour used for the text the same. You can only see the text if you select it so although it looks like a big open use of colour, it’s trying to trick the search engines into scanning a whole load of extra copy.
Despite it being common knowledge for years that these techniques could get your site banned, many SEO companies still use them. If you see examples of these in use by your potential online marketing agency then run a mile.