The road less traveled
On the long journey where we have been exploring the question, Where should I start with SEO?, our sixth post is all about the things that are possible with SEO that you might want to consider because of the results, but you might not know the risks.
No matter if you realize it or not, but you can just as easily limit your website’s ability to rank for competitive keywords as you can show up in search engine results. This is all through what you do and how you do it.
First, I would like to present the topic of whitehat, greyhat (or grayhat) and blackhat SEO. There are so many definitions of these three words and most tie them as a descriptor of tactics. Not getting into the philosophy of SEO, I will provide my view. I don’t think that there is a grey area when it comes to SEO and I also don’t think that they should be tied to tactics, rather, I tie whitehat and blackhat to intent. If your intent is to artificially influence search rankings (i.e. you didn’t earn the improved rankings) then I call it blackhat. If your intent is to improve a website to increase your website’s rankings (i.e. earning it) then I call it whitehat. Ok, with that being said, we are going to focus on tactics that are attempting to artificially increase rankings, so it would be classified (at least by me) as blackhat and I will organize them under the three major components of SEO, technical, content or relevancy development and link or authority development.
Delivering a different experience to a search engine (i.e. different content) than you would when a person requests a page would be considered cloaking and an attempt to artificially inflate rankings.
Using technology to build a large number of pages that are specifically designed to rank for particular keywords automatically that wouldn’t normally be accessible to visitors through navigation. This has become something over the past few years that are being pitched and implemented but I contend that if it is worth doing, it is worth doing it right.
The greatest area where blackhat SEOs are in their element and it is also the area that can get your website into the greatest risk organically. The best example of what not to do (in my professional opinion) in link development is getting links that you paid for. Paid links look simple, don’t typically cost much and are likely being leveraged by your competitors. They are typically difficult for search engines to determine and they can deliver rankings, but I don’t feel they are worth the risk.
There are a number of things that you have likely considered that would help you improve your rankings, but just like an athlete considering using steroids, you could increase your performance but only for a period of time and there are other costs associated with the increased performance. Focus on what will improve your visitor’s experience, great content with a purpose, clear paths to information and conversions while ensuring search engines can understand that content is key to ranking as well as performing competitively.
Do what’s right, for the right reason… you might not always be #1, but you will always perform well for a long period of time. I would rather continue to perform rather than just have a great year or two, but that might just be me.
One post left in the series, Steady as she goes – How to Set Goals for Continual Success, expect it in the next month or so.