Avoid Black Hat SEO

Black-Hat-SEOEvery now and then, I’ll run across a Web page that has content that is OBVIOUSLY created strictly for SEO purposes. Such pages offer little or no value to human readers. But the bots that analyze page content can be tricked into thinking that the page is credible and valuable to readers. It is a trick. More specifically, a Black Hat trick.

In the SEO world, there is White Hat (Good Guy) and Black Hat (Bad Guy) SEO. The reason that Black Hat SEO should be avoided is that Google and other search engines are constantly improving their search algorithms to detect and banish those that try to trick the search engine to show a Web page as a top search result. Another reason, that I like even better, is that not only are you tricking Google, you are tricking your prospective customers. That’s not a good way to start a relationship!

Here is the page I encountered:

It cleverly mentions area attractions and, for the most part, uses real sentences. However, the content is awkward and largely unrelated to what the business offers.

Instead, businesses should focus their SEO efforts around great, relevant and valuable content. Optimize real content and Google and the masses will soon appreciate your Web pages.

I asked James Martin of Studio Mercury what he thought of this example. Here is what he had to say:

What we see in that example may give some boost in Google.  The page is stuffed – right on the edge of overstuffed. It has a lot of links, a lot of “similar content” and a lot of location bait.  It is careful to use real sentences and (for the most part) good grammar.  If you do a search in Google for minutemanpress and hit next, next, next, it’ll blow your mind.

These guys know what they’re doing, but they sacrifice the #1 rule of SEO – content is king.  They’ll miss out on organic results. I see they have also artificially pumped their facebook pages

I don’t really dig the black hat SEO, but their strategy probably does work. A bit dangerous, though, as they could suffer penalties when Google updates its algorithm.

I asked James for clarification of what he means by “organic results” because this example is clearly getting good organic search results. He said that what he meant was that the company will have greater, natural success in making sales, by focusing their energy on creating valuable content. His point is that SEO isn’t the end-goal. The end-goal is to have the site result in sales. Good content gets to that result faster and more efficiently than “tricking Google and potential customers” to visit your site.