Blackhat Techniques: Don't Shoot Yourself In The Foot

Description: Why you need to know what black hat SEO techniques are - so you can avoid them like the plague.

There are two types of SEO - search engine optimization - techniques in existence. These are commonly known as white hat ones and black hat ones, and you need to make sure that where SEO is concerned you stay whiter than white at all times.

But why is this? What's so bad about black hat techniques?

In short they are either banned outright or extremely unethical to use as ways of promoting your website and getting it a higher ranking in the search engines. But black hat methods aren't just unethical because they unfairly try to manipulate your ranking. They don't take into account the most important reason for having any website in the first place - and that's the customer.

We all want to get ranked higher in search results, but if that requirement becomes more important than the service we are giving to our visitors then we run the risk of crossing over into black hat territory.

Some people worry about whether their attempts at search engine optimization are legitimate or not. Keywords, for example, can be used for good or evil when it comes to SEO. Perhaps the best way of working out whether or not you are straying into undesired territory is to ask yourself whether the presentation of your website is being altered to suit your attempts to maximize your SEO techniques. If it is, you may have problems.

Let's look at the keyword example to see what's meant by this. It's a good idea to make sure that each page of your website has a good sprinkling of keywords and phrases, to attract visitors and ensure your site shows up in relevant search results. But if you start trying to manipulate the content of your site to fit in more keywords - re-editing a paragraph several times just to see how many times you can get those words in for example - then you may be going too far.

Two to three per cent of the content should generally be dedicated to keywords; any more than that and red flags will start to go up. The main rule is that your content should sound natural. You've probably read an article before where the keywords might as well have been standing out in 3D; it looks and reads very unnaturally and should be avoided at all costs.

One of the best examples of a black hat technique is using hidden text to put in more keywords that won't be seen by anyone who visits a website. The idea is that they won't be noticed by the search engine spiders either - but that doesn't work for long.

Hidden text is achieved by inserting text which is the same color as the background - white on white or black on black for example. The webmaster can then in theory stuff as many keywords as they like onto their site without anyone being any the wiser.

The problem with search engine optimization is that many techniques can be used for good or bad purposes. Keywords can be used carefully or thrown in left right and center. Links can be cultivated slowly and be of a high standard - or they can be generated quickly and with substandard sites. Some beginners to internet marketing can trip themselves up without realizing, which is why it's important to educate yourself about what's right and what's wrong.

On the subject of linking it's important to have both incoming and outgoing links that are of good quality. Don't fall for the tempting promise of link farms. They can certainly provide you with links but they are not regarded as being valuable or worthwhile sites, and they can only do you harm. You're much better off creating quality links over time if you want to avoid being penalized for having dubious ones.

There will always be some people who persist in using black hat techniques to get ranked higher in the search engines. Their success - if they achieve any at all - will always be short lived because Google and the other main search engines are very good at finding out who is doing it and banning them from their search results completely.

If you make quality your watchword you shouldn't ever be in any danger of straying over into black hat territory. Unethical techniques are never good quality techniques - and that will never change.

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