JC Penny’s recent black hat SEO debacle with Google probably has a lot of businesses wondering if the companies they’ve hired are entirely honorable as well, as many SEO companies wondering if the tactics they thought were harmless will get them in trouble.
The example of JC Penny was yet another reason not to engage in black hat SEO, so here are just a few of these black hat techniques that you want to stay away from–unless you want to feel the iron hammer of Google come down on your website.
Don’t hide things in your website’s code. Google is going to put more emphasis on the things that users will be able to see, but some people try to trick search engines by keyword stuffing their meta descriptions.
Another common deceptive tactic is to create images that are too small for users to notice and stuffing the alt tag with as many keywords as you can fit. When you create an alt tag for an image, make it relevant. Make it something that would make sense to a user if they couldn’t see an image. If search engines see super long keyword stuffed alt tags it looks suspicious.
Don’t keyword stuff things contained in a “see more” drop down. These are okay to use if used legitimately. But if you are trying to hide spammy content from users and make it possible for only search engines to see, you’re likely to get caught. Use a common format when you create drop down content.
Continuing with the don’t hide things theme: don’t, I repeat, don’t make your text the same color as the background and stuff all sorts of spam in there. That is old, but I still see websites doing this on occasion. Basically, go through and make sure that search engines see the same things that your users see and you will have nothing to worry about.
Avoid black hat link building. There is nothing wrong with building links. There are many affordable SEO services that use honorable link building techniques. What got JC Penny in trouble was the fact that their SEO company was purchasing links on completely irrelevant websites.
There is no real easy way out with link building. If it seems too easy, it probably is. Don’t purchase links from just anyone, don’t use spam bots that give generic comments to thousands of blogs, or use any kind of automated link building. Its dishonest, and can get you in big trouble.
So be careful. Black hat can get you banned from search engines if you get caught. The bans generally lift after a certain amount of time depending on the severity, but its not something you want to have to deal with.