Choose Your Side of the Force - SEO Rundown Vol. 3
Everything has its heroes and villains. SEO is no different. When you enter this area, you’re bound to come across the shady and dubious techniques as well as search engine-friendly methods, that will not result in any penalties.
However, how do you tell them apart? Why one type of SEO is considered bad, and another type is believed to be good? Because you should always look deeply into all complicated issues, of course, you won’t be satisfied with a short answer like “Because it’s wrong”. So, before you start going your own way, take a moment to learn more about the dark and light sides of SEO force.
Meet The Cast
Name: Black Hat SEO
Occupation: Getting fast rankings boost with minimum effort.
Motto: Hey, check out these buy best wallpapers in the USA for cheap! Angelina Jolie has those!
Likes: Easy money, making Google mad.
Hates: Getting reported for regulation violation, getting penalties, applying real effort.
Powers: content automatization, unnatural unrelated keywords, cloaking, invisible text, and links, creating fake pages, hacking.
As any antagonist, Black Hat SEO NEVER plays by rules. In fact, rule-breaking is its bread and butter. If there is any vulnerability it can exploit, it will. From small tricks, like baiting search engines with politics and celebrity names to advertise a toilet paper manufacturer to significant misdeeds like deceiving search engines or even hacking, there is nothing Black Hat SEO won’t do to get quick results and a reward.
What can it do?
✓ Stuff texts with unrelated keywords
Sometimes, when you look at the text, you can see planted keywords with an unaided eye. They just don’t belong there. Also, they have nothing to do with the content or context at all! The mess of brand names and the hottest Google keywords are thrown in your face, and it doesn’t feel welcoming at all.
That’s because Black Hat SEO doesn’t really care about understanding users or reaching out to the potential target audience. Catching the interest of search engines is its primary goal. Relying on the automatized, mechanical process, Black Hat SEO floods the content with as many keywords as possible: why worry about the website not making any sense, when search engines are still going to swallow the bait?
Pfft, human customers. Who needs them anyway?
✓ Automatize your content
Another proof of the apparent disdain Black Hat SEO has for humans is the text content itself. Sometimes you come across a text on the homepage or in the comments, and you just know that it wasn’t written by a person.
It’s just a bunch of randomly generated words and phrases, combined with a couple of links or key phrases. It wasn’t made for prospective buyers to learn more about a brand or product, it is not here to attract visitors or decorate the website. It is here for search engines to pick the URLs and keywords.
Hey, if you are not a search engine, you still can click the URL or buy something. It’s not like you need information about the stuff you are going to purchase. What, the text is not inviting enough for you?
Maybe you are just too sensitive?
✓ Create doorway pages
If you think that keyword spamming is the most annoying thing Black Hat SEO can do with the key phrases, you are quite an optimist. Here is a scenario: you find a web page overloaded with the key phrases that matched your query (“buy a fridge in Atlanta”). Hooray! You gladly click one of the links and bam!...
You’re sucked into the website, which offers you to spend your winter holidays in Atlanta, and you have no clue what went wrong. However, in fact, everything went according to the plan of Black Hat SEO. This is its trick to increase the number of visits. Such tiny detail as luring unsuspecting visitors, who do not even belong to the target audience of the promoted website doesn’t matter to Black Hat SEO. You came to the site in the end. Oh, sure, you are going to leave right now, increasing the bounce rate of the website, but Black Hat SEO couldn’t care less.
✓ Deceive search engines with cloaking
Sometimes Black Hat SEO practitioners actually bother with appealing to both search engines and users. However, they do it in their own twisted ways, by creating two variants of the same page with completely different content. One of them is optimized for users and visitors, while another is heavily laden with keywords and is meant to attract search engine bots and quickly boost rankings.
How harmful is that?
Well, first of all, it is the common trick of websites that distribute pornography and other mature content. Imagine looking up some cartoons for your kid and stumbling upon something like this. Or worse, imagine your kid finding it while searching for cartoons in Google. Not something to be associated with, right?
Second, search engines are at war with this practice. Therefore, if they catch a website that exploits cloaking, they kick the rankings out of it. All your SEO will be rendered useless, because your web source will be staying in the black list for a long time.
Totally not worth the risk.
Why people use Black Hat SEO?
Black Hat SEO is like that sleazy salesman, who will keep jamming his foot between the door and the frame to prevent you from slamming it shut. It’s persistent and promises great results without breaking a sweat. For many inexperienced or poorly informed website owners it is a tempting fruit. Therefore, Black Hat SEO has its audience.
Some users may argue about cloaking being not black, but rather grey practice, which doesn’t harm anyone. However, search engines are pretty strict about this and the punishments that follow.
Using Black Hat SEO is like playing Russian roulette. There is 1% chance that it will lead to something relatively positive and 99% potential of things going horribly wrong after a short, brief improvement. Like any antagonist, Black Hat SEO costs you dearly. If you hire a Black Hat SEO practitioner, you lose your money when paying them and then lose your budget on undoing their harm. If you do Black Hat SEO yourself, you still lose money on restoring the rankings your online business from zero after getting punished by Google.
Are you ready to pull the trigger?
Name: White Hat SEO
Occupation: Performing internal and external website optimization.
Motto: Give some time and a bit of your patience, and I will give you the results you wanted!
Likes: Fixing errors, 100% original texts, promoting websites to the TOP search results.
Hates: Black Hat SEO, duplicate content, error 404 pages.
Powers: Writing quality content, keyword research, building link juice, adding meta descriptions.
White Hat SEO is the Good Guy of the SEO world. It cares greatly about observing the balance between customer satisfaction and attracting search engines. Less reckless and a lot more lawful than its Black Hat counterpart, White Hat SEO carefully looks into each case and builds a detailed, individualized approach to boost the website’s rankings and make it last.
White Hat SEO firmly believes that all great results take time and effort, so it does not tolerate rushing into promotion and hurrying to grab as many visitors as possible. Some users may not agree with its methodic, calculated ways, but they pay off wonderfully in the end.
What can it do?
✓ Create original text content
Everybody likes a good read. Whether it is a novel, an article, a manual applied to your TV, we want something more than just information. We want it served to us in a simple, smart and stylish way. And there is nothing we hate more than unoriginality. We hate routine, we hate repetitions, and we hate seeing one and the same description on 10 different websites! Maddening!
Search engines also don’t treat non-original content well.
White SEO takes care of it by writing a completely new text for introducing the purpose, the goal and the services of the web portal. By cleverly interlacing informative text content with key phrases, it fully satisfies the needs of users and the demands of search engines. No need to cloak content or hide keywords within the text!
✓ Choose keywords that will work for you
Selecting keywords and inserting them in the text is not as simple as it seems. Not only they should be popular, but it’s important to make them relevant and specific for your online business. This is a fine balance, which requires great skills and understanding of analysis.
There is no place for cheap, hot key phrases like celebrity or politician names in the website dedicated to office chairs production. Understanding this, White Hat SEO does a thorough, meticulous work, picking and selecting search queries that will bring prospective customers to your websites. According to the philosophy of White Hat SEO, you don’t have to use millions of key phrases. Select a bunch and use it smart.
✓ Fill your website with meta descriptions
While Black Hat SEO isn’t interested in doing some real work on websites, White Hat SEO isn’t afraid of it. Writing meta descriptions is more than a hard work - it’s a bothersome, monotonous task that requires you to create original snippets that will contain the most important info about your website. While it’s not imperial to rankings, this is what web users see in search results. An interesting, well-written snippet in search results guarantees you more clicks from intrigued uses and more visits.
A White Hat SEO expert will comb through every page of the website, until all meta descriptions are in place. This is not easy, but they will still do it for you and your progress.
Because this is the right thing to do.
✓ Place backlinks
Building link juice is one of the most reliable ways to get visits and create beneficial partnerships. Whenever user visit a web source, they find a link to another web portal offering services or products that are related to the subject. Interested, they follow the link and find your web source, equipped with content, great design and attractive offers. Not bad, right?
The Black Hat SEO doesn’t use this method, because it takes too much time and effort. After all, you have to select reliable web sources, agree upon a partnership and place the links in a smart and clever way.
White Hat SEO is ready to take this responsibility upon itself. Many White Hat SEO agencies build a reliable network of partners, which consists of various high-quality websites, dedicated to different products or services. As they boast large visitor numbers, they are perfectly suitable for link building. Some White Hat SEO experts prefer to use blogging for building link juice. Both tactics are valid and Google-approved.
✓ Fix your website errors
The visual appeal of the website is just a half of success. The rest is defined by how well your website ticks.
If you have ever noticed that your website loads just a tad bit slower than the web sources of your competitors do, this is not something you just have to deal with. Slow loading speed, chaotic structure of a mobile version, lots of broken links - this is the deadweight that prevents your website from soaring high and reaching the TOP.
White Hat SEO experts will dedicate their time and effort to restore order on your website and increase its performance by removing internal errors and thus increasing the loading speed, tucking away all error 404 pages and removing all other factors that negatively affect your website.
✓ Help you adapt to Google algorithms
White Hat SEO will never tell you that performing a full range of search optimization works will be enough. Google and many other search engines have a habit of changing their algorithms, which means that the criteria used for website ranking may no longer be relevant. In this case, it is crucial to respond to the change ASAP.
If your website is supervised by a White Hat SEO team, they will run an analysis to estimate what has changed exactly, and do everything necessary to make sure your website meets the latest requirements.
That’s very nice of them, isn’t it?
Why people don’t use White Hat SEO?
With all the benefits of White Hat SEO mentioned above, your logical question would be “Then why do people prefer to join the Dark Side instead of sticking with something so great and Google-friendly?”
The answer is very simple. It’s all about time.
White Hat SEO never promises to deliver tremendous results in a jiffy. This is just not how a well-planned promotion works. The first months of the campaign will show a steady growth, but not a huge boost of followers and rankings - this usually comes later.
There is no quick and easy “happily ever after” in White Hat SEO - there are tons of hard work, constant monitoring and patience, rewarded by the increased popularity of the website, TOP rankings, high conversion rates and great acceptance among users.
Some online entrepreneurs and website owners think that they’re not ready to wait for so long, so they employ the services of Black Hat SEO to get the same results faster. However, as you can judge from the previous block, it backfires in the most catastrophic way possible.
Bad guys have their appeal, sure thing. But in many cases, the penalties outweigh the charisma of the Dark Side of the Force.
The ultimate decision?
You will have to choose your style of promotion at some point of running your online business. Sometimes the obstacles will be enticing you into using some Black Hat SEO techniques to boost your rankings and get that much needed superiority in the competition. Just one time wouldn’t hurt, right?
You may grow annoyed with the time it takes for your White Hat SEO campaign to gain full power. You will be paranoid of your competitors, suspecting that they’re using Black Hat SEO and laughing behind your back.
Once you have the knowledge of the strength and weaknesses of search engines, you have the power. And with the power comes great responsibility.
Our advice to you: stick to the strong side of search engines and never rely on their weaknesses to give you a steady progress that will last. It will be worth all hardships in the end.