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Five Common Black Hat Web Design Tactics

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It’s what’s known as a vicious circle:

Search engine algorithms are always evolving to beat the latest Black Hat Web Design Tactics; unethical SEO operators are always working to beat the latest search engine algorithm changes.

The major losers in this ongoing battle of wits are mainly customers, who usually pay shady SEOs large sums of money for what they perceive to be a lasting improvement to their web site’s rankings and profitability. Ironically enough, if any results are achieved, they are inevitably short-lived and definitely not worth the exorbitant rates charged by Black Hat web design and SEO companies.

Here are five of the more common Black Hat Web Design Tactics

Hidden Text
This is quite simple; the text of your web page is the same as its background colour, thus becoming invisible to human visitors but remaining a part of the page for search engines to index. Although an old method, hidden text has experienced something of a revival during recent years, as CSS controlled web design has provided new opportunities for unethical operators to hide their text without search engines immediately noticing.

To cloak a web site is to present visiting search engine spiders and human visitors with different content (different pages). What it basically amounts to is the webmaster or SEO configuring their server to check whether a website’s visitor is human, or a search engine spider, and then presenting them with differing versions of the requested web page accordingly. In this way, Google can be shown the content it desires for high rankings, while humans are shown sales-orientated low-content web pages.
And although this technique was once considered harmless, it was abused by Black Hat web design operators to such a degree that it has now been deemed a punishable offence by all major search engines.

Keyword Stuffing
This is possibly the grandfather of all Black Hat techniques. In essence it involves stuffing a page’s content with as many incidences of the targeted key-phrase as humanly possible (and often impossible). Since this approach rarely produces anything even remotely readable, keyword stuffed text is usually placed at the bottom of a page in a suspiciously small font and occasionally in combination with the hidden text tactic.

Website Interlinking
This is more of a grey area than an outright Black Hat technique since, much like cloaking, it is an accepted technique which is becoming an increasingly popular vehicle for those web designers looking to boost a site’s link popularity by artificial means.

The whole thing becomes a problem when a company launches a multitude of web sites with very similar content and interlinks them excessively; an approach which definitely journeys into Black Hat territory. Sometimes known as a Domain Farm, this approach has been a bone of contention in many webmaster and SEO discussion forums, much to my amusement. Because while some high-profile SEO professionals may ridicule the existence of domain farm penalties, denigrating all who disagree with them, my own personal conversations with Google’s own staff show that even highly self-opinionated SEOs aren’t infallible.

Doorway Pages
This particular strategy involves creating a series of near identical web pages with generic content, designed to promote one particular keyword or phrase per page. Click here to see what I'm talking about. Also known as cookie-cutter pages, batches of these are often sold to clients as part of a bogus ‘sitemap’. They contain little in the way of value for visitors and are now being actively penalized  by Google, and the other search engines.

Reporting Spam Websites?

These days, Google and the other search engines all feature facilities for reporting spam web sites which use Black Hat web design techniques, or one of the myriad shady SEO approaches which are constantly evolving in an effort to out-fox changing search engine algorithm changes.

And while this may at first seem like a bit of a no-no, consider this: Why should your competitors get away with dirty tricks when you are playing by the rules?

Click here for more information.


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