Google tells you straight up what they like and what they don’t like in their Webmaster quality Guidelines. What they don’t like is Black Hat SEO, which violates their terms and degrades the quality of search results. Those who practice it, especially SEO firms will try to reason, interpret, and stretch Google’s words, to reason why they should continue to use it.
Google is sophisticated than people think. Yes it is machine, a programmed engine but the engineers are intelligent enough to come up with more complex algorithms that identify those who. They may not catch you in the beginning, but eventually I am sure their engines will catch on, and it’s better not to find out the hard way.
Black Hat SEO includes:
Buying Backlinks – Paying so that several of sites (valid or not) link to your site.
Forwards/Redirects – Having several “doorway pages” that redirect to the same site.
Doorway Pages - Creating tons of sites, microsites, or pages elsewhere that are keyword “optimized”, or duplicate/similar content, with intent to draws users to a particular site.
Cloaking – Having domains that hide actual URL, or hidden or misleading content with a different content, usually confusing or deceiving
Keyword Stuffing - Putting excess amount of keywords in content and meta tags.
Link Farms – Filling up pages with links.
Domain Farms – Purchasing tons of domains, that forwards, redirects, or contains doorway pages with low quality content. This is not listed on the guidelines directly, but mentioned in a Google blog.
Automated content/queries – Generic and useless search results or auto-generated content.
One business who has tons of doorway pages or domain with purpose of drawing to a main site, might still say that their doorway pages are not EXACTLY the same content, has quality content they put effort to, that is not meant to deceive, but no matter what your “good intentions” are it is still Black Hat SEO. No matter how you try to reason, interpret it, misinterpret or reinterpret, Google still does not like it. Tons of sites, microsites, pages, etc with similar theme with intent to lead them to a main site, is the same thing whether all content is identical or not.
Some SEO “experts” will try to convince you otherwise and say that it’s a good thing, but that flows against web standards and guidelines. Once Google finds out (they are getting smarter, trust me), they will take actions. They spend a lot of effort to fight off “evil-doers.”
All this degrades quality of search engine results and frustrates users, especially when they come across hundreds of “useless” or similar search results from the same source, that they were not looking for. Have you ever looked for something and come across many results that is unrelated or so similar but useless?? That is because of search engine spam.
I have to admit I am an “unwilling” hypocrite to some of this, which is why I know so much about it. I have been through presentations by other companies, and even have done work for companies, under another firm’s direction, that contribute to this madness. Working with so many firms, it is hard to avoid such work or request, when you promise or contracted your service to them, and they happen to practice some of the not-so-web-ethical practices, whether they know or not. Sometimes the most you can do is to try to persuade them not to do it, or lose relations completely. In ideal world, I would do everything the recommended way, but it’s not a perfect world, but that’s probably not going to happen unless I’m Mark Zuckerberg.
As for White Hat SEO, Google already says what they like that will help with search engine results, so why not follow and work with, instead of around and against them?? It only makes sense when you’re wondering what search engines like. Drop the endless amount of microsites, and put all the quality content on one massive site, under one domain. Not saying you’re not allowed to buy multiple domains. I have multiple domains but they are entirely different.
Also despite what Black Hat strategiest say,?domain farms, buying several keyword rich domains, are not the key to high search rankings. When you type in tissues, for example, you’ll get Kleenex.com or Puffs.com instead of ilovetissues.com or pleasebuymytissues.com. These companies built a brand and identity for themselves instead.
Once Google catches up to any Black Hat strategies, it takes more work, effort, and resources to try to out beat the system. Look at well known sites. Apple for example. They don’t get users by buying tons of domains or creating several subsets under different names. They are known for their site, their products, their single brand and identity. Coming across as a zillion different companies just confuse people and makes them suspicious and wonder who you really are.
Follow web standards, get involved with community and social networks, and it will draw people to you. When they share your site and its content and link to you, those are legit backlinks. Avoid link farms, many people aren’t going to read through all that, and it makes your site look unprofessional. Avoid hidden content; search engines could still crawl through it anyways.
Being on top of search engines, isn’t everything and isn’t always going to make a sale. You need a good site. You want people to know you enough that they can directly input your site and get what they need. There are billions of sites that are competing with the same keywords. I’m not going to look for a sweater at Kohls, by typing sweater in the search engine. I go directly onto the site to get it or I go to a shopping site to compare prices. I did know a company that worked so hard in buying several domain names and being #1 on some keywords. It’s been a few years and since then I noticed, they are no longer #1. There are just way too many competitors out there. It’s not possible to be #1 in everything. If I type in sweater, there will be a kazillion store sites that show up and sites about sweaters.
Think about what you want to brand your identity as. A company with integrity that contributes to honest, quality and legit search results, or ones who tries to get on top with several domains, backlinks, microsites, etc, that Google absolutely does not accept. The Black Hat way is likely not going to make you the next Facebook, Apple, or Wikipedia, but White Hat way of being a recognized as a respected company, will help. Do the right thing for the sake of quality of the web, and your site users.
I’ve seen both sides, via seminars, presentations, read many Google resources, and even recently attended a Google event sponsored by Google and presented by Google. Which side would you choose?