Black Hat vs White Hat SEO
Avoid Google Penalties by Choosing a White Hat SEO
A hat can really make you stand out from the crowd. But choosing the right colour will make sure you find that position in the limelight, stay in it and do it cost effectively.
Appearing on the first page of a Google search is essential for any business competing in the online market and critical for gaining an edge over that fiercely competitive rival. In fact, Chitika, a search-targeted advertising company, claim that the top three Google result rankings get 61.5% of traffic share for any search item. Anything beyond 10th position means you are feeding off the scraps from the buffet table; with anything less than 1% of traffic.
White vs. Black Hat
So this is where the hat comes in. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is all about achieving higher page rank and achieving better search engine visibility for clients. The world of SEO is starkly divided between those donning a white or a black hat.
A white hat SEO adopts ethical and organic optimisation techniques aimed at a human audience and follows search engine rules and policies – such as Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
This is achieved through quality written content, images and videos, meta-information and improved site architecture and performance. These methods will help you get to the top – and maintain a strong footing. The only downside is that success is achieved over a long time period – so patience and commitment to this strategy is required.
A black hat SEO will focus on the opposite; using annoying, aggressive and morally dubious methods to enhance search engine results. Such short cuts include keyword stuffing, invisible text, doorway pages and page swapping. See below for things to look for when dealing with a potential SEO company.
|Black Hat SEO||White Hat SEO|
|· Doorway Pages||· Quality content|
|· Invisible Text||· Tiles and Meta-data|
|· Keyword Stuffing||· Quality Inbound Links|
|· Sneaky Redirects||· Link Baiting|
|· Cloaking||· Structural Mark Up|
|· Link Manipulation||· Site Optimisation|
|· Article Spinning||· Keyword Research|
|· Link Farms||· Effective Keyword Use|
Summary of techniques used by SEO companies, be sure to know what your SEO is getting up to
In truth, the black hat strategy can work and can generate a quick financial return in some cases. But it is risky. Those wishing to use a black hat SEO generally deem being banned from search engines as an acceptable risk – and therefore this approach is entirely incompatible with those with serious, long-term business vision.
Whilst your site’s traffic may skyrocket as a result of such underhand black hat tactics – maximising traffic will probably fail to target your desired customer base. The conversion rate (the ratio of visitors to your site compared to those who actually become clients) will remain low. By forking out for the services of a black hat SEO – you will be paying for quantity of traffic and not quality.
There is also another significant incentive to avoid unscrupulous black hat tactics, arriving in the form of a Penguin. Whilst it’s avian counterpart offers little to be afraid, Penguin 4.0 is a formidable algorithm developed by Google to combat manipulation of search engine rankings which conflicts with Google approved strategies. Once guilty sites are identified they are penalised by having their PageRank score (used to rank websites in their search engine results) reduced or wiped out to zero.
Google Penalties Hit Hard
The threat should not be taken lightly. Google have a strong record of penalising guilty offenders including BMW, the Washington Post and Rap Genius. The reason for this is that Google wants to maintain it’s credibility as a search engine which finds searchers relevant and valuable content. Its ‘Webmaster Guidelines’ are a code of practice for responsible ways to help Google find, index, and rank a site. They are unwilling to tolerate activity which undermines their healthy profit from doing this.
One penalised party, J.C. Penny, who run department stores in the U.S. & Puerto Rico, packed thousands of unrelated websites with links to their products – in what is known as a ‘link scheme’. Such poor links increased traffic to J.C. Penny’s site resulting in a higher Google PageRank and higher search visibility. But the success stopped there. When Google penalised J.C. Penny for this misdemeanour, it took J.C. Penny 90 days to recover it’s top rankings in Google. They ultimately fired its’s SEO SearchDex for the embarrassment.
In a similar case, Overstock, an American internet retailer claimed that a Google penalty ‘adversely’ affected revenue for the first half of 2011 because of a scheme in which they incentivised content writing and link building in exchange for a free product or discount.
To emphasise the risks incurred by choosing a black hat SEO, in January 2011, Expedia, an American travel company, dropped 25% in search visibility, resulting in Expedia shares falling by 4.5%.
Fred is Watching
Google is updating Penguin continually. As of March 2017, utterings of the new ‘Fred’ Update have worried many SEO outfits. Analysis by Sistrix, an SEO data collection company has found that pages most effected by the new update have been those ‘pumped to the brim with main keyword mentions and void of any useful information’ – a trademark of dodgy black hat SEO tactics. With increasingly sophisticated systems enforcing Googles rules – there is more reason to toe the line and employ the help of a white hat SEO.
Don’t be deceived by Black Hat SEOs
It isn’t just Google’s algorithms that could bring to light a black hat SEO’s ruses. Your competitors or frustrated searchers can use easy to find data and tools to analyse trends in your organic traffic and backlink profile or identify low quality content and links. If they develop a strong case against your site, they can fill in a Google Spam report which may lead to those disastrous penalties.
Your Choice, Make it a Good One
It may not be obvious who is and isn’t conforming to the rules in the world of SEO. A black hat SEO should raise eyebrows when they promise cheap, quick, all-to-easy results. It is important to resist this temptation. Make sure to ask about an SEO’s tactics and strategy for your company. Be sure of the service they are providing. Be up to date with new rogue tactics that SEOs are conjuring and be sure that the company you use is not employing them.
It should be clear to anyone considering how to drive their business onwards and upwards that user-friendly, relevant content and a host of white hat SEO techniques can achieve your online objectives. By committing to a white hat SEO you are on the safe path to maintaining your business’s online authenticity and integrity. Honest tactics will trigger positive feedback through social media. Making the right choice will secure sustainable growth and income through better search engine visibility.
About Digital Squad
Digital Squad specialises in 100% White Hat SEO which is fully compliant with latest Google Webmaster Guidelines. With over 8,000 hours (and counting) of research and testing, we provide a Guarantee to all our clients again Google Penalisation.
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