Every day we are inundated with black hat SEO techniques, strategies and recommendations. But, do the ends justify the means? It seems every day I hear someone has a better way, a better trick, a better solution to get a website ranking high in the search engines.
While speaking with clients, we hear story after story of them trying to get to the top of the search results. Yes, we all want to be there, but there is NOT a shortcut. Getting there in today's search engines requires work and persistence.
First of all I want to point out these ARE NOT TIPS TO HELP YOU! These are things to avoid, as a matter of fact, if someone offers to do these for you, run! They worked 5 years ago, but not anymore. Now they will get you the infamous Google Slap and your site won't be found by anyone. If you are looking for some tips to improve, this may be of interest.
Take note of these, ask your SEO provider, if you have one, how they are going to improve your rankings. Using these tactics will undoubtedly not be in your favor.
1. Keyword Stuffing
Using keywords unnaturally too many times in the content of your page. That pretty much sums it up. Write for a person reading your page, don't worry too much about the keywords. Generally, when you write about a topic the keyword will be there enough times. A good example would be a 400-600 word blog post will have the keyword in it 3-4 times.
2. Invisible Text
Don't use it! This is an older trick that was effective in it's time, but so were horse drawn carriages. This practice matches the color of the background and stuffs a lot of keywords at the bottom of a page. While you may think they are relevant, if your content isn't talking about them, they're not.
3. Crappy backlinks
We used to generate an abundance of backlinks and the search engines recognized these backlinks as authority to our site thus improving overall SEO. Those days are gone! Links that come from sites that aren't relevant to your content are bad. The best way to think about this, if the link has no purpose, not relevant to your site, it's bad. Get rid of it and do it fast.
4. Duplicate content
As enticing as it may be to take that perfect work that someone else wrote. Google keeps track of this and you'll get penalized for copying. Make it your own.
5. Site Cloaking
Not Star-Trek stuff here, but we're talking about designing a site to look one way to visitors and another way to the search engines. No good. Search engines are too smart now.
The right way to do things:
Keywords are important. Research your keyword, pick the right one. Use that keyword in your page title, your META Description and 3-4 times in your text (providing you are writing 400-600 words). With that, you'll be good.
Backlinks are great if you find good ones to link back to you. Here is a great post for ideas.
Another very informative, thorough and current (2015) article for building backlinks that won't kill your search traffic can be found here.
Don't do anything that doesn't feel right, ask questions of your SEO company if you're hiring someone. Black Hat SEO will never win. It may seem like a quick fix, but in the long run your company will suffer. An example, we had a client that received the infamous Google manual spam action (unnatural backlinks). That company practically disappeared off the search engines. After a few months of working to remove the bad links that were created, cleaning up the site and submitting several times for reconsideration they were finally back in business. But, that was a few months of no web traffic. In some cases, it is easier to just create a new URL! Is that a risk your business can take today?