Believe it or not, there is proper etiquette when SEO techniques are involved. Despite countless articles and blogs that offer up tips and tricks to receiving more ROI on your search engine marketing, there are a few basic tenets that have stood the test of time.
Let me first start off by saying that while I find the term ROI deplorable within the context of SEO, because of its connotation that it’s somehow definitively measurable, there is a place for the term when used correctly.
The following changes are chief examples of Black Hat techniques on steroids; which can and will hurt your ROI. Meaning, your website will receive fewer traffic and ultimately become banned or penalized. And who wants to pay for something like that?
In today’s uncertain Google climate, it is important that you understand that nothing is guaranteed. You could be ranking well one week and slip the following, but if you keep these tactics from damaging your sites reputation you may very well stay off of Google’s hit list.
Yuck! Just like it’s not-so appetizing namesake, spamming can leave an aftertaste in the mouths of blog sites, websites and social media posts. No one wants to see spammy, self promoting dribble within their comments section. No one! Now that that is out of the way, let’s talk spamming keywords.
Keyword spamming was popular circa 2002. It is not and will never be popular again—Google made sure of that. In the beginning, keywords were used if you wanted to rank well for a specific string of words. Once people found that they could manipulate keywords it was a keyword blood bath with long tail keywords being stuffed into every line of a content piece; ultimately making it unreadable.
Now, Google keeps a close-eye on keyword stuffing both long tail and short. With the sophistication of technology they can now track keywords and understand what a website is about, thus making over stuffing null and void. So ditch this Black Hat Technique.
Tip: Keywords can be used in titles, content or in meta tags. Just use them sparingly.
This change goes hand-in-hand with keyword spamming but in an unusual way. Hiding text is the practice of making text invisible to website visitors, but not to search engines; which can crawl a site and read any text present on page. This can be achieved with various nefarious methods such as matching font color and background color, placing text in a hidden DIV and placing it behind an image.
On his blog, back in 2005, Matt Cutts showed one of the more “creative” ways sites were trying to manipulate the system. By using #EEEEEE a gift framing site used a font color that was almost similar to the background color and used the keywords’ lengths instead of alphabetizing them to try to trick the Google team. Nothing gets past Cutts, though.
Tip: Hiding text for legitimate reason will never be frowned upon; as in the case of describing an image for the visually impaired or for social media plug-ins. Everything else is otherwise garbage.
If you haven’t noticed these bad tactics all center on content. Why? Because content is a huge part of the SEO process.
I like to call this process the lazy bones syndrome. Content Regeneration is when a content piece is rewritten using alternate words. While repurposing a content piece isn’t a crime, blatant plagiarism is. Just because words are changed like, innovative to groundbreaking doesn’t make it an original work of art.
The common website visitor may not notice that content is being plagiarized, but Google is well aware of this tactic and has since employed its own thesaurus and dictionary of terms to crack down on sites that try to plagiarize work for the sake of ranking better.
Tip: If you are going to use another person’s work, cite them properly and don’t take their work and generate it as your own. There is nothing wrong with reconstructing your own work, but make sure it is not just a thesaurus version.
Now that I am done dropping all this awesome knowledge on you, remember to keep the best practices in the forefront of your mind; while keeping the worst tactics at bay. Knowledge is power and Google doesn’t care that you didn’t know it was a Black Hat tactic—they will penalize you.