We received a worrying email today from a website client who manages and updates her own site.  The site, which previously performed well, had suddenly dropped down the rankings.  It was no longer found on key searches and she wanted to know if we could help.  Like everyone, the client was keen to keep her site high on the rankings and increase its performance.

One of her business acquaintances had given her some ‘SEO advice’.  Unfortunately she didn’t verify it or investigate it further before putting it into action.  Instead of improving her ranking, this bad advice had disastrous results.

The advice was to create ‘invisible copy’ on her site.  The additional new copy, which was stuffed with keywords, was presented on the site in a white font on a white background.  The text was not visible to the human visitor but was, or so she was told, an effective way to optimise the website.

This is black hatting at its worst.  Black hat SEO is the unethical attempt to manipulate the search engine rankings.  It is not only bad practice, but dangerous.  The search engines’ sophisticated technology can spot black hat SEO a mile away and will rightly penalise the site.  In the worst case scenario, the site can be disqualified from the searches.

Other unethical black hat SEO techniques include keyword stuffing and doorway pages.  There is a useful and informative post on black hat SEO on the About.com website.

If your website isn’t performing as it should, there is no substitute for professionally written SEO copy.  Keeping your site updated and fresh will ensure your ranking is preserved and improved.

So please, whatever you do, don’t be tempted to try and diddle the search engines.  They’re too smart to fall for it, and your website and your sales enquiries will suffer as a result.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

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