Welcome to the Dark Side – Black Hat SEO, is it for me?
Deciding on SEO (search engine optimization) techniques for your website is a bit like taking a walk through a forest. You can choose the perhaps longer, more physically challenging but safe route, or you can take the shortcut through the deep, dark forest and run the risk of an encounter with a hungry wolf. You may well end up in the same place at the end, but then again, you may not.
Black Hat, White Hat
Whether you choose black hat or white hat SEO really depends on what you want at the end. If you want a long lasting, beautiful, engaging relationship, with a steady stream of traffic to your site, then white hat SEO is for you. If you are prepared to run the risk of getting your site banned from search engines or plummeting down the rankings, perhaps after an initial spike, then head over to the dark side.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO is a form of optimization which, quite frankly uses all of the techniques which Google are looking to eliminate. Techniques are designed to get a website as high up the rank as possible, but in a manner which is unnatural and focussing only on the search engine, not a human audience. Strategies are often very aggressive and lacking in ‘usefulness’.
Some black hat strategies and techniques include:
- Doorway Pages
- Keyword stuffing
- Invisible text
- Adding unrelated keywords to content
- Page swapping
- Sneaky redirects
- Link manipulation
These strategies and techniques will quite possibly work well in the short term. However, as soon as you’re found out – and believe me, they have their ways of finding out – that’s the end of your beautiful relationship with the search engine.
What Should I be doing?
Well, it’s obvious innit? White hat SEO, of course. According to Google, you should be asking yourself if the content that you are putting out is “adding value to the user or am I just doing this for search engines to see?” Search engines such as Google are continually updating their criteria to promote this idea, meaning that they give more value to useful, entertaining or interesting website content which engages with visitors and gives them something valuable to take away.
Some white hat SEO techniques and strategies include:
- Creation and publishing of useful content
- Encouraging two-way communication between a business (website) and their visitors
- Using social media
- Using location
- Guest Blogging
- Quality link building
The white hat strategies and techniques may seem to be a little more labour intensive, but they will mean that your website is much more likely to stay up there near the top of those rankings, and perhaps more importantly, help to forge a long and beautiful relationship between you and your website visitors (or potential customers).
Of course, the choice of whether you use the white hat or back hat SEO is entirely down to you, but it is worth considering the importance of long and short term consequences before making your decision.