Series 4, Article 41

It is never a good idea to use questionable techniques in order to get your website higher in the search engines. If you have a website, at some point you will get phone calls and/or emails from companies who promise to “get you to the top of the Google Search Engines in just one month.” I will guarantee that they are going to use “Black Hat” techniques (techniques to trick Google temporarily). You’ll see temporary results, pay them a high fee, and then they will be nowhere to be found when Google black lists your website for cheating. Be wary of companies that promise too much!

One of these methods is called keyword stuffing, which skews search engine results by overusing keywords on the page. Web techs will put repeated keywords toward the bottom of the page where most visitors won’t see them or they’ll use text that is the same color as the background so it’s invisible on the website, but found by Google when they search the HTML code. (Some search engine spiders can identify and ignore text that matches the page’s background color.)

Web techs also include irrelevant keywords to trick search engines – such as “Monument Dog Groomer” when they are actually in Colorado Springs. It’s rude to do to the searcher, and they often leave the site once they realize it has little or nothing to do with their search terms.

A web tech might create a web page that includes information on a current hot topic. Then when a searcher gets to it, it immediately redirects them to the real website which has nothing to do with the original search term. With several pages that each focus on a current hot topic, the webmaster can get a lot of traffic to a particular Web site.  It’s dirty business.

Selling and farming links — A link farm is a collection of Web pages that all interlink with one another in order to increase each page’s rank. When search engines detect a link selling scheme or link farm, they flag every site involved. Sometimes the search engine will simply demote every page’s rank. In other cases, it might ban all the sites from its indexes.

Cheating the system might result in a temporary increase in visitors, but since people normally don’t like to be fooled, the benefits are questionable at best. Who wants to return to a site that isn’t what it claims to be? Plus, most search engines penalize Web pages that use black hat techniques, which means the web tech trades a short success for a long-term failure.