Back in the late 90’s/early 00’s, search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves (who remembers this one??) and Excite were pretty basic, employing few techniques to filter websites by content. Many search engine optimisers at the time used what we call ‘black hat’ techniques to rank their websites at the top of SERPs (search engine result pages). Because of this Google, Bing and others have added additional filters (such as the infamous Panda and Penguin updates) to stop black hatters/spammers from getting their sites to the top of the SERPs and to make for a better experience for their users. You can keep your website safe from penalisation by employing ‘white hat’ techniques.
So what do ‘black hat’ and ‘white hat’ SEO techniques include?
Black Hat SEO
Black hat techniques are generally easy and cheap to employ. These include:
- Buying backlinks via online ‘link farms’.
- Adding hidden text to a web page filled with keywords. Search engines can read and index this, but users cannot.
- Copying content from other web pages.
- Buying high-quality backlinks. If you advertise on other websites, make sure that your links have the rel=”nofollow” tag.
- Spamming blog comments and/or forums with links to your website.
White Hat SEO
White hat techniques are much harder and take more time and effort, but will pay off. These techniques include:
- Providing helpful information by writing articles for other blogs and linking back to your website. This practice is known as guest blogging.
- Producing high quality, fresh content on your website. Ensuring all of your pages have plenty of information and keeping an up-to-date blog are the standard practices for this.
- Linking to other relevant pages on your site.
- Making sure your site has a readable, clean URL structure (e.g. www.example.com/services/service-title/ instead of www.example.com/?=67_22klj47).
- Writing accurate, descriptive meta titles and descriptions, ensuring that when someone clicks on your website they don’t bounce back to the SERPs (a sign of poor quality).
Why It Matters
The primary function of search engines is to provide relevant information to the searcher, and spam is the exact opposite of this. Some of the best minds in software engineering work around-the-clock to ensure black hat SEO is penalised. Whilst black hat SEO techniques can get you to the top of the SERPs in a short amount of time, they will catch on and red flag your website, essentially deleting your website from any search results. And whilst a large percentage (a majority for a lot of websites) of traffic still comes from organic search results, good/white hat SEO practices are highly recommended and have become the standard practice of all the best search engine optimisers.
For long term success, stick with white hat techniques. Whilst they may not be as easy to implement, or yield black hat’s fast results, they will ensure that you stay on search engines’ good side. If you suspect you have been affected by black hat SEO and need help recovering from a Google penalty, get in touch with us and speak to one of our experts.