Although most webmasters feel the majority of messages received by Google are related to linking, Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts stated that almost 90% of the messages sent out to webmasters relate to black hat SEO. Black hat SEO techniques are possibly the fastest way to not only get noticed—but to destroy all credibility as well. For those who are unaware of what black hat SEO includes, think of the following practices:
- Camouflaging text in the same color as the page’s background (thus hiding keywords from readers)
- Including random comments on different websites which have links pointing to your site
- Overloading your site with similar keywords in your particular niche
- Hiding pages which can only be seen by search engines
Avoiding Black Hat SEO
Particularly for legal websites which must be credible, trustworthy and beyond reproach, any hint of black hat SEO can literally be the downfall of your website and can even seriously harm your practice. The importance then, of your lawyer website design and subsequent content cannot be overstressed. When anyone attempts to convince you to use questionable techniques in order to increase your page rank, be very wary. You can read the guidelines set forth by Google and other search engines in their Terms of Service to determine whether a particular practice is in violation. To be clear, black hat SEO is not illegal however is highly unethical and is considered a form of cheating in the web world.
Penalties for Black Hat Practices
Camouflaging or cloaking presents your readers a page which appears not only user-friendly, but clean and on the “up and up.” What the search engines “see” can be completely different, containing heavily optimized pages and text. Should you be the least bit tempted to venture into black hat SEO techniques, bear in mind that the penalties Google is handing out are getting more and more severe. Your site could be banned completely or, at a minimum could have its page rank substantially lowered. When BMW implemented highly optimized pages containing no relevant content other than to bring users to its site, Google promptly removed the site from the search index altogether.
How Black Hat SEO is Discovered
Lest you think you will chance a bit of black hat SEO thinking you won’t be found out, there is more than one way Google ferrets out unethical practices. Their own team may discover the pages, competitors could report you to Google or mainstream media could report to Google. Thanks to Google’s constantly updated algorithms, particularly the recent Panda and Penguin updates, it is getting harder and harder to cheat the system. Keyword-stuffing and link farming will soon become a thing of the past as the incredibly sophisticated algorithms continue to evolve. In the end, though, never forget that the online extension of your business—your website—is wholly dependent on your clients and potential clients. Should those clients ever feel they have been tricked, or duped, the credibility and authenticity of your business can be on the line.
As experts in lawyer website design, we will always ensure your site avoids black hat SEO at all costs. Call (800) 877-2776 to speak with an expert in lawyer websites. You will receive free advice and invaluable strategies from the most highly experienced consultants rather than sales representatives.