|Anyone that has researches basic SEO has learned that a website’s ranking on the old SERPS (search engine results page) are based on the links to your site. Anyone involved in SEO will also tell you that “the quality” of these links is absolutely essential for effective search engine optimization. However, it has been possible, in the past, to “hoodwink” search engines with shadowy “black hat” tactics to lift your website appear near the top of the pile. Here, we’ll expose some of those tactics and highlight the correct and natural methods you should use in increase your site’s visibility.|
Tempting, Dirty, Black Hat SEO Tactics, Who’s Gotten Seduced?
Google’s webmaster tools page actually states that some bad dudes (and may I stress usually without any professional SEO background) “…engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites.”
Who would do this sort of thing? This must be some sort of cheap trick by a second hand car dealer-esque, dirty rotten scoundrel type, website owner (no offense to anyone actually in the car trade – which is probably a very noble and honest industry), who is unwilling to put the time and effort into creating a worthwhile website, and craves instant results. Well this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. This black hat technique has, shockingly, been a tactic by some major corporations! However, Google has, thankfully, now identified and clamped down on the activities.
It would seem Forbes “knows what sells”
The highest profile offender was Forbes.com (a part of Forbes’ Digital – whose websites apparently collectively reach more than 27 million unique visitors each month, according to Wikipedia). Forbes received a wrist-slapping email from Google (about selling links) informing them that they had “artificial or unnatural links” on their site “pointing to other sites that could be intended to manipulate PageRank”.
J.C. Penny and Overstock Are Proven Fans of “Instant Gratification”
There appears to have been a clampdown recently by Google, as further evidenced with major shopping outlet
J. C. Penney and online retailer Overstock.com, which both received the dreaded ‘penalization’ email from the good people at Google. This turn of events has been fantastic news for everyone involved in professional SEO, as the so-called “Black-hat” tactics that have somewhat soiled the name of SEO, are finally flubbing in their attempts to gain an unfair advantage.
White Hat SEO is a Beautiful and Natural Burst of Fresh Air
Now, after all this filthy and vile black hat talk, it is important to highlight the natural white hat link practices that good SEO craves. These principles should always be practiced by any good search engine optimization company.
- Deep linking. Links that go to all areas of the site and not just the home-page. A good mix of home page and other page links (ensuring that key words are not overused), as well as full http links (rather than keyword links) is good practice.
- Natural linking is not reciprocal, which means if a website has a link to you, it looks more natural not to always have a link going back to them. Launching quirky competitions to set the blogging world alive with excitement is a good way to get link without the need to link back. If the competition is of interest to their audience, then both bloggers (as well as traditional websites) will be delighted to inform their audience.
- Relevant text must always be used. For example, if the website is a bike shop, then the link must be surrounded by information about bikes. All good quality websites relating to bike enthusiasts and (more generic) websites from the region need be considered and ideas brainstormed for possible “link bait” and possible articles to include the keywords.
- Links are gained slowly, so a colossal amount of links gained at the same time is thankfully easy for search engines to spot. Therefore utilizing social media (such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) is a fantastic way to slowly build relationships online, which can eventually lead to links.
- Variety is the key, as links with websites with varying page ranks (as long as the content is relevant and is not “spammy” or with a poor reputation) should be gained. For example, universities and councils (if your site has something worthwhile to offer them), media, websites used by the target audience, bloggers, should be contacted in a genuine manner that looks appears you are generally offering news that would benefit or interest the readers of their website.
Following these guidelines will help your website to climb up the SERPs naturally and safely, and will avoid any wrist-slapping from Google – but the secret to successful SEO is establishing links with respected websites. Online, as in life, you are judged by the company you keep. If you associate with dubious characters in your private life, then you will be tarred with the same brush! By hanging out with the popular, well respected crowd, you will be looked upon more favourably and enjoy greater opportunities.
Bio – James Brack is Technical Director at UK-based web design and online marketing agency Dreamscape Design Ltd, and heads the SEO / Social Media team, broadening the online horizons for numerous happy clients.
URL – http://www.dreamscapedesign.co.uk