Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why Webmaster Hate Black Hat Technology

Should You Consider Using Black Hat Techniques?

Should You Consider Using Black Hat Techniques?

Author: Trish Haill
Everybody who starts a website wants to have it ranked at the top of the Google and other search engine results so that people visit the website. For most there is a financial reason - they are either selling products directly, or want to attract people so that they click on the ads and affiliate links which will make them money. Very few people are not bothered about attracting traffic.

When there's a financial impetus behind something there is an incentive to do anything you can to improve your chances of becoming rich, and there are an awful lot of people out there trying to persuade you to buy their products and services in order to help you become rich quick.

There is an old adage that says the faster they rise, the harder they fall. This is certainly true for a lot of webmasters who have their eye on the ball of getting their sites high up in the page rankings with not too much conscience about how they get there.

Take a step back for a moment and think about things from the position of the search engines. They exist so that people surfing the internet for information can get the answers they are looking for very quickly. If one search engine always offers relevant useful information from the first few sites which appear in the results, and another offers sites which simply contain lists of references or very poor quality information, which search engine would people be drawn to in future? Just like you as a webmaster, the search engines are in business to make money, and to keep and attract their customers they need to make sure they are the most popular search engine on the web

Which is why search engines focus on the quality of the results shown to the public, and continuously try to improve search results. The many regular changes to the Google algorithm is a case in point, but the other search engines make regular changes too.

Let's consider for a moment the difference between White Hat and Black Hat SEO.

Even if you have the best content on the internet in your site and are a specialist in your area, when you construct the most attractive website with easy to use navigation you are unlikely to suddenly find yourself on page one of the search results. This is because there is a lot of competition out there - unless you are writing on, or promoting in, a very obscure area, there is already likely to be hundreds to thousands, or hundreds of thousands of other websites on your subject matter. As these websites may have been around quite a while they have attracted some authority with age. So you, as a new webmaster are going to have an uphill struggle trying to prove that your content is worthy of a higher position in the search results than your competition. If you are going to do things properly then this is going to be a long haul, and whilst there are a number of things you can do, there are no short cuts or magic wands that will get you to the top of Google overnight.

So it can be tempting when you read promises from SEO companies who promise you top rankings on Google within a very short period of time if you use their services. At the best these will be empty promises (it's impossible for everyone to be at the top of Page One!), and at worst they'll be offering Black Hat techniques.

Black Hat is bad for everyone. Black Hat is basically cheating the search engine bots so that they think that the site has more validity and authority than it actually does - a common way is by increasing dramatically the number of back links the site has (which roughly translates as the number of votes of confidence in the site's merit). The search engines list the site at the top of the search results, and the human visitor doesn't find the information they are looking for. If enough poor quality sites appear at the top of the results, the visitor will go to another search engine for better results. The high quality sites that would have provided the visitor with what they are looking for are pushed right down the list, and never get clicked on.

Google is constantly revising its algorithm so that these poor quality sites do not appear on the search results - and in fact remove them from their searches altogether. If you do reach a high ranking through using black hat techniques your position is likely to be shortlived. It is very hard to recover once Google have a black mark against you.

Black Hat techniques highlighted as being bad by Google include having hidden text or links which fool the search bots but can't be seen (and therefore have no value for) the human visitor; pages full of irrelevant keywords (which mean the content is jarbled for the visitor), multiple pages, domains or sub domains full of virtually identical content; doorway pages that just lead you to a site full of adverts or the very worst, have pages which contain malicious content such as viruses or Trojans.

White Hat on the other hand is everything that makes it easy for the search engines to properly index your website so that when a query is entered your page can be correctly identified as one which offers the most relevant response. Put quite simply, the page must be well constructed for both human visitors to read, and for the bots to understand what the page is about. The site should contain both sitemaps for bots, and sitemaps for humans so they can find all the information they need. If you think about how a human discovers information - i.e. by having a correct page and site structure, with easy to follow links and headings which make sense, then you will be producing a high quality site which visitors will enjoy visiting, and will stay on to find more information or products, and likewise will be providing lots of keywords and links for the bots to index.

Once you have a high quality website you still have the uphill struggle to make it to the top of the search engine rankings. This is where you need to get positive votes for your site to show that it is trustworthy and useful, and a site which deserves top poll position. Links from other authorative sites are the most useful. Proper link building is a long slog, and there is no quick easy way to do this. Never think about buying links in bulk - paid for links are not as valuable as good quality links, and Google devalues links that are irrelevant to the content of your site or if they look like they come from a link farm.

Establishing yourself as an authority on a subject is a good way of getting traffic and links. Writing articles on your subject, contributing to blogs and forums are good ways of getting yourself out there and your site noticed.

If you're thinking this sounds like hard work - you're quite right! Which is why so many people resort to black hat techniques, and by responding to offers from companies who promise to get you that coveted No 1 slot without any effort on your part.

But if you're tempted to take a short cut consider the penalties. You may have a great number of sites and don't care if some get de-indexed. You might not care that any success with any of your sites might be shortlived. But if your website is your baby which you've invested your heart and soul, not to mention time and energy into, it will be devastating if you get on the wrong side of the search engines.

Search engines are concerned with identifying the sites which give the best answers to the queries that are asked. Search engines are not human, so they cannot judge the information presented and therefore need to rely on the votes (links) other people give to your site. Having content which will provide good quality, easy to find answers to the questions asked and having lots of links to your site will eventually get you to the top of the search pages - and will make it easier for you to stay there. Getting there quick with Black Hat techniques might help you make it to the top, but expect a quick tumble, not just to the bottom, but into oblivion!


Trish Haill has worked in the It Industry for 15 years and is experienced with local government and company websites. Having designed and published several successful and acclaimed websites in her own right, the secrets of good website design and publishing are now shared at Webmaster Productions