Increase your website traffic by 60% with one simple tip! Or, even better – don’t. The internet is full of tips for “hacking” Google’s algorithm, and dramatically increasing your website’s traffic. We’ve got 5 of the best worst tips – and why you should ignore them.
White Hat vs Black Hat Marketing
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is designing your website or blog post to make it easy for search engines to find it. There are many ways to do this, from the ethical (“White Hat”), to the downright dirty (“Black Hat” or “Spamdexing”). White Hat SEO includes good design, such as using clear headings which include the topic of the post, and images which include alt text. Black Hat is a whole lot more complicated – and a whole lot dirtier.
BLACK HAT SEO TIP 1: Keywords are great! Use as many as possible!
Imagine you run a popular blog on hats, balaclavas, beanies, berets, bowlers, caps, fedoras, headscarves, aimed at an audience of business professionals, entrepreneurs, industrialists, manufacturers, tycoons, magnates. If all your blog posts read like the previous sentence, you’re keyword stuffing. This tip (trick, pointer, hint, advice) is very annoying (aggravating, irritating, bothersome) to the reader, and can cause clients to click away – and if Google notices what you’re doing, your site will be penalised. MAKE IT WHITEHAT: Try reading your prose aloud. If it sounds natural, it’s probably fine. The above paragraph should read: Imagine you run a popular blog on hats, aimed at an audience of business professionals. Part of the reason you’re so successful is you understand keyword stuffing is very annoying to the reader, and can cause clients to click away – and if Google notices what you’re doing, your site will be penalised.
BLACK HAT SEO TIP 2: Update your post dates for easy fresh content!
Google loves, loves, loves fresh content. Fresh content ranks more highly in search results… but it’s also a lot of work to keep creating quality content. What to do? Changing a blog post’s date will give it a boost in search rankings – maybe as high as 66%. That’s a tempting figure – but you still shouldn’t do it. Why not? You’re not serving your audience. Even if you do get a boost in clickthrough, readers who see dated references will be turned off and not return. Plus, now that we know about this trick, you can be assured Google does too, and will be working to shut down this loophole – and possibly penalise those who exploit it. MAKE IT WHITEHAT: Instead of changing the date, spin new content from old. Here’s some examples you could probably use on your blog today:
- Our 2014 Trend Predictions: Where We Went Wrong
- How Facebook’s Latest Changes Compare to their Previous Update
- Our Best Posts from 2015
- “5 SEO Tips You Should Ignore”: A Rebuttal
BLACK HAT SEO TIP 3: Leave a link in the comments!
Links back to your site will boost your search engine ranking. Once upon a time, it was common to see short comments on blogs with links back to the owner’s site: or worse, a string of random characters and an obviously malevolent link. Naturally, the big search engines caught on to this practise, and have penalised people who practise it. MAKE IT WHITEHAT: Instead of spamming comments sections or forums with your links, try and build a community instead. Leaving thoughtful comments on industry blogs can build your audience’s trust in you and your brand, without the need to resort to spam.
BLACK HAT SEO TIP 4: Pay for a link to your site!
Search engines penalise spammy links in comments, so why not pay sites to link to yours instead? As well as costing a lot, paid links will actually hurt your search ranking. Sites which engage in this practise tend not to be trusted by Google, and links from them aren’t worth very much, or may even hurt your ranking. Writing a guest blog with a natural link back to your own site seems like a neat way around this, but unfortunately the guest blog was declared dead in 2014. MAKE IT WHITEHAT: Great guest posts on a trusted site can help build, if not your SEO, then your site’s reputation. Just like leaving high-quality comments, it can enhance your reputation and name-recognition among your niche’s readers.
BLACK HAT SEO TIP 5: Harness the Power of Social Media!
Social media is important for your site’s rankings. Set up a Twitter account – or use a bot to save time – and send everyone who #followback an automated message inviting them to check out your blog. That will get you lots of clicks, right? Wrong. Such tactics are likely to be marked as spam, and could get you removed from the platform all together. MAKE IT WHITEHAT: Social media is an important part of any strategy, but in order to reap its benefits you have to both use it and use it correctly. That means not letting your Twitter account languished unloved, and getting along with other users. A great social following can boost your page ranking, just like you always wanted. Any other bad tips we should know about? Leave a link in the comments!