It’s fairly likely that you will have heard of black hat SEO tactics, and white hat SEO methods. For some time now it’s been well known that you simply can’t fool the big search engines like Google any more. Trying to trick your way to the top using methods which go completely against the policies, terms and principles of Google will almost certainly see your website either plummet towards the deep dark depths of oblivion, or blacklisted altogether.

White hat, black hat SEO tacticsThere are clearly recognised tactics which should always be avoided at all costs, and plenty of techniques which are encouraged, and which work. The problem is that sometimes businesses don’t always pay close attention to what their SEO company is doing, and whilst most SEO companies are legitimate, professional and effective, there are still a large number which try to achieve fast results for short term profit, whilst completely ignoring the fact that their clients will almost certainly be consigned to the online equivalent of room 101.

Only last week one very large Chinese firm called Milanoo discovered to its horror that it was vanishing from the search results, and being punished very heavily by Google. The reason was that Milanoo had hired an SEO firm without thoroughly checking their track record or their approaches. The SEO company in question was either hopelessly unaware of the fact that search engine optimisation and online marketing has moved on from the 1990s, or didn’t care about any of their clients’ reputations or brands. Unbeknown to Milanoo their SEO company were using paid links in order to try to trick Google into placing Milanoo very much higher up the search results.

In fact the short term results were astonishing, as Milanoo were outperforming many multinational and established brands for major keywords, but of course as with all black hat techniques, this glory was very short lived. It’s vital for anyone hiring an SEO firm to remember that the company they choose will be largely responsible for the long term success and reputation of your entire online brand. It’s a delicate thing, and can easily be broken if placed in the wrong hands.

But for many people the big question is ‘what is black hat, and what’s acceptable?’ It’s all very well suggesting that you find out more about the techniques being used or offered by your SEO company if you yourself don’t know which techniques are acceptable and which aren’t. As a very quick guide, here are three commonly used black hat techniques you should avoid.

1. Keyword Stuffing: This is the most obvious technique to avoid of course. Stuffing your keyword or keyphrase into every possible sentence on your page achieves two things. Firstly the search engines will spot this a mile off and completely ignore you, and secondly any real human being carrying a wallet and looking to place an order will be put off in seconds, and is likely to head off to your competitor’s site instead.

2. Hidden Text: In order to avoid putting off real people what many black hat SEO companies have done is to create keyword stuffed content and then include this on the page in ways which mean it’s invisible to people, but still visible to the search engines. These days it doesn’t even matter if you don’t even keyword stuff this hidden text. Including any hidden text of any significant length is not recommended, and is likely to count against you.

3. Doorway Pages: This is a technique known as spamdexing, where the first page of the website is there to serve only one purpose, and that’s to push the primary keyphrase. Such pages aren’t designed for the visitors, and offer little or nothing for them. ‘Click here to enter the site’ is usually the only thing aimed at real people, although it’s often unsuccessful since most people just walk away at that point. This practice will often get you banned by the search engines.

We’ll be looking at more black hat techniques you should avoid, and looking at why they are dangerous, in another blog post soon, so make sure you bookmark this blog and come back again for more helpful advice which could help protect your brand.