Black Hat SEO
This isn’t something that we typically delve into here at MIND as we’re a White Hat agency… however, part of being a good whitehat SEO is knowing what takes place over at The Dark Side! They promise cookies and what not, but I’d never suggest you try these tactics on a site from which you earn a living.
I’m going to go quick, so try and keep up…
First let’s talk about burner sites… These are sites you don’t care about, can make you a bit of money (until you get caught) then you burn the domain and the hosting… “if” you’re going to test a black hat strategy – (and I’m not condoning it) this is the only way to do it… That being said, let me reiterate DO NOT DO THIS OR ANYTHING LIKE THIS ON YOUR BREAD AND BUTTER SITE(S)!
Earlier I said…
That we, as whitehats, need to know what takes place on the dark side Well, we don’t go out and actively search for the dark arts online… We have clients or folks we consult for ask us things like “how the HELL is this site with no content out ranking me?” Or “Can you tell me what they’re doing to get these rankings? They came out of nowhere and knocked us down!”
A similar conversation is how we found this Gem!
Now, I know I could go either way with this… Give the URL and call this guy out. I don’t know him, we haven’t met at any of the industry conferences, we don’t golf together, etc.. etc.. For the sake of this post, I’ll share with you EXACTLY what he’s doing, why it’s bad, and what the potential penalties are. (*side note: The webmaster behind this site also offers SEO services on a different site).
The Good, The Bad, And the FUGLY!
Here’s a screen cap of the site as a whole (again company & name blurred so not to call webmasterX out)
You’ll notice that it’s a wedding photography website in a particular region, that offers wedding photography in several surrounding areas (we’ll get into landing pages in a bit).
This site has been ranking extremely well for most of it’s terms! But wait Dave, I thought that in order to rank, you just needed quality content and good backlinks pointing back to you
Well… in a very vague way – that’s spot on…
I didn’t delve into this site’s back links (but I’m sure if he’s on-site scamming, there are paid links or shoddy guest blogging / network blogging happening somewhere along the lines). For now, let’s just look at the site:
Just your standard logo / nav / about / contact etc… below that a Big image slider, then about a paragraph of content (that is duplicate throughout the site). If you look really, really, really hard at the upper right hand corner (Tilt your head down towards the bottom left of your screen and look at the top right)! You should now be able to barely make out a clickable anchor > so click it and what happens?
Here’s the content break down:
Before we click the link (on-site content) a quick ctrl+F and we find 5 instances of the term ‘Wedding’ / 3 instances of ‘photographers’ / 2 instances of ‘Photograph’
Click of the link and what do we find?
95 instances of ‘Wedding’ / 35 instances of ‘Photographers’
25 instances of ‘Photography’
With a physical address, phone number, G+ profile for Authorship and about 20 spammy descriptions of each of their landing pages!
As you can see, this is clearly outside of Google’s TOS and blatant Black Hat SPAM for no reason other than to trick the Search Engines! This hidden content does not help the site’s readers in any way shape or form! This is also why Matt Cutts says “We can’t have nice things!”
Ah yes… The Penalties
Just in case you think this is a clever way to CHEAT Google… Think again! We pulled several companies out of Penguin & Panda penalties last year… Be smart, research, ask questions, and don’t get caught with your pants down! Google has a big stick and is NOT AFRAID TO SPANK YOU! We’ll cover more of this in this week’s MIND YOUR SEO Podcast! #StayTuned