Black hat SEO? White hat SEO? What’s with all these hats, and how do you even know the difference?
It can be hard to tell right from wrong if you’re unfamiliar with search engine optimization or how it works. You may know how important it is, but perhaps you don’t know much about the technical side of things.
Image from Victor Mitroi (changes made), licensed under CC Attribution 2.0
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to identifying shady SEO implementations on your own website. You’ll want to avoid Google’s wrath and all the debilitating penalties that come with it if you want to keep your site’s rankings afloat.
The following questions will give you an idea of whether or not you’ve been practicing black hat SEO, and if so, what you need to do to get rid of it.
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then guess what? You’re engaging in black hat SEO. And that’s not a very good idea.
Black hat techniques get noticed by the search engines and land you in the doghouse: site penalties and even complete blacklisting can hit you in response to your attempt (whether conscious or not) to cheat the system.
So what’s next? If my site has been around for a while and happens to be riddled with black hat SEO, is it even worth the time and money to clean it up? Give this next post a read to get some insight on cleaning up dated SEO.
Review the Questions Here:
Have You Stacked up a Ton of Boilerplate Backlinks to Your Site?
√ Yes. I’ve subscribed to link directories, paid for backlinks and done whatever I can to get as many links as possible. After all, I hear that lots of backlinks will build my credibility with Google, even if they come from seemingly irrelevant sites.
× No. I’ve done what I can to gain valuable backlinks to my website, but I’ve avoided avenues such as directories, rapid-fire content syndication and paid linking services. When it comes to backlinking, I stick to quality over quantity and only strive for backlinks that are relevant to my field of interest.
Does Your Content Sound like a Robot Wrote It?
√ Yes. The same words and phrases are used repeatedly in my site’s content. My content frequently lists long, run-on strings of services in an attempt to get noticed by the search engines and rank better for certain keywords. The title tags and meta descriptions on my pages do the same thing, exhibiting as many keywords as possible to help index my site properly.
× No. What’s written on my site sounds conversational and communicates effectively with my visitors. My title tags and meta descriptions flow like a normal sentence.
Have You Borrowed Content from Other Sites?
√ Yes. Some or all of the textual content on my website (including page headers, product descriptions, and whole paragraphs of writing) is taken from other sites. Sharing is caring – right?
× No. All of my written content is completely original. I don’t borrow any of my content from elsewhere, and I make it a point to give my visitors a unique experience when they come to my website.
Do You Have a Few Different Sites That Direct to the Same Place?
√ Yes. Sure, I have additional sites that direct users to my main site in an effort to get more traffic. It’s been working great so far, and this makes it easier for people to find my business.
× No. I only have one site, devoting my efforts to the same place instead of dividing them.
How About More than One Site That’s Identical to the First?
√ Yes. The more the merrier! I’ve created several sites on different domains that are the exact same – this way I get more exposure and have more chances to rank.
× No. I don’t see the point to having redundant sites, and it would take a lot more time to manage more than one of the same site anyways.
Do You Have Hidden Text on Your Pages?
√ Yes. Invisible text gives me an extra chance to get some keywords on each page, improving my chances to rank where I want to. And no harm no foul, since it won’t disrupt user experience if the text blends into the background.
× No. I don’t use invisible text on my site’s pages. It certainly doesn’t add anything to the user’s experience, and it’ll only create a headache if and when I want to redesign my site in the future.