By: Mathias Gieser
Someone always spoiled the fun for everyone in grade school. The kid who took the chicken patty and threw it on the wall made chicken patties go away forever. There is always a right and wrong way to approach everything. This somewhat cliché phrase translates to all parts of life, including the Internet.
Developers and designers alike do everything to get their sites to the prestigious number one spot. Black hat SEO came about from this because of the sometimes ruthless tactics used to obtain the number one spot. This unfortunately exists today and is frowned upon by all major search engines. Some of the most well known methods are explained in more detail here.
Recently JCPenney was thought to be deploying some black hat SEO methods. Although they denied this, Google, the 800-pound gorilla of search engines, threatened to place them on their black list. An article detailing this situation can be found here. In the last 2 years I have come across some local businesses’ web sites that have these methods deployed. Knowingly or unknowingly these businesses likely employed someone to increase their search engine rankings. They trusted this person with their business’ online presence. This leaves a bad taste in the mouth of everyone involved, and feeling taken advantage of has never been a good feeling.
The method I have been seeing most is link farms in the footer of a website. A link farm consists of a number of different links irrelevant to the content on the website. On the surface these are unsightly, embarrassing, and unprofessional. The real problem with these links is that they carry no value. If I were a user on a construction company’s website I most likely would not need a link to a pediatric dentist. Sometimes these link farms go unnoticed by the site owner because they are hidden from users seeing them. The search engines however scrape page and look at the raw source code, giving false credit to the website the link is on and the site that is linked to.
Why do “experts” use these methods? Black hat methods are used because they work, initially. The return on investment is seen almost immediately. The business is happy, the SEO expert is paid, all is well, until search engines discover what is actually going on. What are the consequences of this and other black hat SEO practices? Search engines attach a high amount of value to results especially the first page and of course the number one position. Sites can be blacklisted temporarily or entirely. In the end, someone always spoils the fun and does things one of the wrong ways. The chicken patty hit the wall as the teacher walked in, leading to the moratorium on chicken patties for the year.
Don’t turn a blind eye to these methods of SEO. Your website will go further with users and search engines using accepted SEO methods. Updating content regularly, link trading, and analyzing web traffic and responding to it will put your site farther ahead in the long run.
Mathias Gieser is a Web Developer for KK BOLD. He usually doesn’t wear hats.