SEO, short for Search Engine Optimisation, helps in improving website ranking in search engine results. Several SEO strategies have been devised to achieve this aim and many more are underway. SEO specialists need to improvise and enhance their strategies regularly in order to meet the changing demands and ranking parameters of the search engines. The task is challenging and the results may not show instantly. In order to reduce the stress involved in the whole process and see fast results many SEO experts take the wrong route. They begin to practice black hat SEO. Yes! Like various other short cut techniques used in the digital world as well as otherwise, this one too is rather unlawful. It is followed just to gain quick returns.
SEO proves to be highly effective when it comes to driving traffic to the websites. Statistics reveal that it drives 10 times greater traffic to shopping sites than social media. Search engine optimization is thus extremely important. But that doesn’t mean one should follow the wrong path to achieve it! Yet, many are using black hat SEO techniques.
In this article you will learn about black hat as well as white hat SEO in detail. You will also learn as to why you must strictly stick to white hat SEO even though it takes time to fetch results. So, let’s start!
What is White Hat SEO?
White hat SEO refers to the use of tools and techniques that consider the need of the human audience rather than simply pleasing the search engines. In the White hat SEO must follow the guidelines set by the search engines. Hence, oftentimes it is referred to as ethical SEO.
White hat SEO strategies make the websites better in various terms. Search engines give preference to websites that fair well on various parameters with the ultimate aim of offering a good user experience. White hat SEO thus focuses on the creation of websites that contain high quality content and at the same time load quickly and offer easy navigation. Among other things, the focus on mobile friendliness is also high lately.
Importance of Inculcating White Hat SEO
White hat SEO practice is essential to stay in the game and bar the risk of getting banned from search engines. Google, the search engine giant, particularly keeps a check on the kind of SEO techniques being used by websites. Any unsolicited activity in this regard can ban your site from the search engine forever. Black hat SEO is a big no for Google. If you want to be in the good books of this search engine you must inculcate white hat SEO strategies. These strategies will help you grab top spot on the search engine result page. This is one of the most effective ways to increase traffic on your site and thereby enhance the chances to boost business.
Being banned from Google, on the other hand, means a drastic dip in the website’s traffic and you very well know how badly it can impact your business. Once banned from Google you cannot really survive the tough competition that goes on in the digital space. So why should you take a chance?
Effective White Hat SEO Techniques
Here is a look at some of the effective white hat SEO techniques:
Useful and Impactful Content
One of the best ways to boost your search engine ranking is by providing the most useful, meaningful and interesting content to your readers. Your content must be latest and relevant to the industry you are catering to. Relevant keywords should be used to optimise the content and make it more viable for search engines as well as readers.
As already stated, a site which is easy to navigate stands a better chance to rank higher in search engine results. This is because it offers a better browsing experience and search engines always give preference to sites that suffice all the needs of the users and appeal to them.
Relevant and useful backlinks form a part of the white hat SEO strategy. This helps the readers discover more about the products and services and gain better insight into the industry. It also helps in fetching more traffic to the site. Lately, SEO specialists are also using the technique of building links through infographics.
Use of Meta Descriptions
It is essential to create meta-descriptions for every page on your site. Search engines give more weightage to sites that have relevant meta-descriptions for each page.
Other White Hat Strategies
Likewise, there are many other white hat SEO strategies that are used to boost search engine rankings. These include adding well-labelled images, using unique and relevant page titles and inculcating standards-compliant HTML.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO is different from the of white hat SEO. Though the purpose of both these strategies is to rank high in search engine results, black hat SEO refers to practices that violate the terms stated by search engines. Black hat is a common term used to describe those involved in computer hacking, creation of viruses and other unethical activities in cyberspace. Thus, those involved in unethical SEO activities also fall under the black head category.
Black Hat SEO Strategies
Black hat SEO specialists keep looking for newer tricks to bluff the search engines and rank high. These practices increase the website traffic instantly but not for long. Search engines are growing smarter and are quick to identify these wrong tactics. They ban such sites temporarily or even permanently. Thus, the reputation of such sites is thus ruined forever.
Here is a look at some of black hat SEO strategies being followed around the world:
One of the oldest black hat SEO tricks is to stuff the content with too many keywords in order to manoeuvre the search engines to gain top slots. Keyword based content is undoubtedly an effective way to rank high in search engine results. However, too much and irrelevant keyword stuffing is a black hat SEO practice and can do more harm to your site than good. As per Google, keyword stuffing mainly involves listing phone numbers unnecessarily and repeating the same words or their synonyms without making any sense. It also includes unnecessarily stuffing the content with the lists of cities and states that the site/ brand is targeting.
Search engines quickly track keyword stuffing and push such sites down on the search engine results page. Likewise, adding invisible keywords is another black hat bluff that can now easily be caught.
Bait and Switch
This strategy involves the creation of content based on the topic one wants to rank for. As the page gains good results, the content is replaced with something else. This misleads the search engines and offers a poor experience to the readers since they are no longer able to view the content they actually clicked for. One cannot compromise on the content. In order to offer a good experience to the readers and keep them coming back it is essential to upload good quality content. However, this can cost a good amount. Bait and switch game is played to save on this money.
Blog Comment Spam
This one involves mentioning your website link in blog comments. It is considered a spammy method to get links to your site. If caught, search engines will write you off.
Tricky or Inappropriate Redirects
Redirecting means sending someone to a URL that is different from what they clicked in the first place. Redirects are mainly intended to offer relevant information to the readers. They let them explore more about a particular topic/ product/ industry. However, black hat SEO uses it to further its own interest rather than adding any value to the customer. At times, it may redirect a search engine crawler to one page and other users to another. It may even involve redirecting to irrelevant pages. Redirects are often used to manipulate search results.
Manoeuvring Rich Snippets
Rich snippet is a technique used to change the way content is displayed on search engine results pages. It gives you a chance to create a unique brand image on the results page. Also known as structured data, it is used for pages displaying different kinds of products. Manoeuvring rich snippets is not acceptable. It is done by adding false information so as to bluff readers as well as search engines. Websites following this unethical practice may face a lot of trouble as search engines are strictly against it.
Low Quality Content
Yet another black hat SEO strategy involves uploading poor quality or duplicate content that is of no use to the readers. While this helped websites fetch traffic until sometime back, these days search engines are able to track this kind of content. Websites with duplicate content are penalized by search engines and hit an all time low when it comes to ranking.
Cloaking is another notorious practice used to mislead the search engines. In this, the content shown to users and that presented to search engines is different from each other. This practice is often followed by spam websites. They do so to hide the spam content they send to the users from the search engines.
One can change the language of the content to make it suitable for readers in different countries and even make it crisp to ensure it is apt for mobile phone viewing. However, changing the content completely for search engine crawlers is not acceptable.
Paid links are aimed to manipulate search engines and gain high ranking in search results. This type of activity is banned by Google as well as other search engines. However, buying and selling of links is still quite common. Google clearly states that this practice is a violation of its Webmaster Guidelines. It is considered to be a part of the link scheme which is unacceptable. It involves sending free products to a website and acquiring links in return. Both the buyer and seller of the links are penalized on being caught.
Black Hat SEO Must be Completely Avoided
As already mentioned, black hat violates the guidelines set by search engines. It can thus put you in trouble. No matter how smartly you play, you are bound to get caught at some point or the other as search engines are getting smarter by the day. Once caught, your online reputation will go for a toss and the repercussion it will have on your business would be adverse. Such websites are penalized and many times removed completely. Either ways, it is a huge loss for you.
Search engines have caught many websites in the past and the number is increasing as they are getting better at identifying such malpractices. Inculcating these practices may seem an easy way to acquire short term gains but ultimately it will tarnish your reputation. It is thus best to avoid these shady ways and stick to white hat SEO techniques. These may bring in slow returns but prove to be beneficial in the long run.
In order to avoid black hat SEO you must first learn as to what all falls under this category. While this article covers most of these techniques, however in order to have a closer look at what all it involves it suggested to go through the SEO guidelines provided by search engines. You must abide by the terms mentioned there to ensure you are on the right track.
SEO is actually a task that can be handled efficiently only by a professional who has studied the subject well. Therefore, in order to rank high on the search engine result page you must assign this work to a qualified SEO professional with a good amount of experience in the field. However as you look for an SEO professional or a digital marketing company in Pune , Delhi or elsewhere, make sure you do a thorough background check to ensure they follow white hat SEO strategies. You can find out about their work by taking a look at their list of clients. Just check the kind of reputation their clients enjoy in the digital space and the kind of traffic they are drawing. This will help you make the right decision.