SEO is, relatively, a new profession. As such, there is a somewhat Wild West, last frontier feel to the business. Perhaps Wild West is a bit far. But certainly an uncharted territory like excitement to it. And that’s great. It’s part of the reason I love SEO. The sheer growth and potential of the industry is nothing less than electrifying. All that being said, there’s a real problem in a section of the SEO industry. And that problem can be summarized in one word: longevity.
What do I mean by SEO having a problem with longevity? Well, two things. First, anything put on the internet has a tendency to stick around. This can be a problem when obtaining low quality or poor backlinks. Second, SEO, because it’s a business based on clients, can have a problem with thinking primarily in the short term, since that’s what clients typically want to see. This is why practicing safe and responsible SEO is so important.
The SEO Profession
In the SEO profession, responsibility is the most important trait we can espouse. Black Hat SEO is the exact opposite of this ideal. Black Hat is all about getting results, no matter what the means. They use techniques such as:
- Keyword stuffing – Overuse of a keyword so Google thinks the content is more relevant than it is
- Invisible Text – Using text invisible to the naked eye—usually more keywords—but that Google’s spiders will crawl
- Doorway Pages – These are whole pages that aren’t possible for humans to get to, but again Google spiders will crawl
- Paid links – Buying links from webmasters, typically resulting in an inorganic, low quality in-content link
- Link Spam – This is where an SEO owned blog or website intentionally spams links to their clients
All of these clearly break the rules of Google’s webmaster policies. And yet, there are SEO companies willing to do whatever it takes to try and get ahead. And these strategies work…for a time.
Why Black Hat Isn’t Realistic
Black Hat SEO can definitely provide results. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t have become so prolific. But Google is getting better. There can be no denying that.
Google’s last two updates, Panda and Penguin, have cracked down on websites with questionable quality content and backlinks like never before. And that’s why longevity is the true key to SEO.
Google will only continue to get better at penalizing and devaluing anything they consider unnatural and low quality, especially in terms of SEO. So it’s important to not only stay within Google’s webmaster guidelines, but within their best practices as well.
For example, in the future Google could devalue link building methods such as blog commenting, especially blog comments that result in a do follow link. So don’t spam blog comments now hoping for short term gains, when it might impact you in the long term.
Unfortunately, there is currently a really tendentious SEO practice of reactionism to Google updates.
Panda and more importantly Penguin have outlined this perfectly.
What Are Poor SEO Techniques?
Of course, there were perfectly legitimate websites horribly affected by these latest algorithm updates. Unfortunately, many of these sites had used questionable SEO practices in the past, because Google had no way to enforce their guidelines at the time. In some cases these practices were carried out years ago, practically ancient history in the terms of websites. And that’s why Black Hat SEO isn’t realistic.
- Black Hat SEO only works in the short term, until Google catches it and applies a penalty, or updates their algorithm to automatically devalue the websites
- Black Hat practices are around forever, meaning eventually it will be detected and penalized. It’s simply a matter of time
- Others can report Black Hat SEO, leading to quicker detection
- Black Hat SEO does nothing to actually make your website better established or higher quality; it only artificially moves you up in the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs).
- Google hates Black Hat SEO. Black Hat is literally designed to game Google’s system, and make their top SERPs less relevant than Google strives for them to be. Obviously, making Google mad is a bad idea.
All these reasons are why it’s so important to practice responsible SEO and link building. As of now, Google has no methods for allowing webmasters to remove or devalue (essentially make the link a nofollow) any links pointing to their site. This means webmasters are reliant on these questionable sites removing the link. Obviously, not a great place to be.
Sometimes, it’s impossible to get these links removed. Either whoever was running the site is no longer around, or they’re not cooperative despite your best efforts. This could have a very serious impact on your website, since old activity from years ago could literally stop you from being found in the SERPs today.
Good SEO will always focus on longevity. Obviously, because of the way business works we still have to be able to get some early results. But every link obtained should, in the end, be focused on longevity. Because potentially these links could be around forever, or at the very least years to come.