Search Engine No-No’s, aka ‘Black Hat’

blackhatseotechniquesIf a little bit is good, more is better? No, not always true – especially when you are talking about search engine optimization. We all want to optimize our pages to rank as highly and quickly as possible by using proven and accepted search engine methods. However, in our zeal to get ‘ranked’ there are some things you do not want to do and should avoid like the plague . . . or run the risk of having your site completely banned. These non-conforming search engine optimization methods are often referred to as ‘black hat.’

‘Black Hat’ – search engine optimization methods frowned upon and rejected by the search engine spiders. These methods are sometimes implemented in an attempt to quickly increase the search engine ranking of a page or website but because of the likelihood of a negative result – should not be used.

A prime example of why you should not use these ‘black hat’ methods is what happened to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson a US Senator from Texas planning on running for Governor. The company that built her political campaign website used ‘black hat’ tactics to get her ranked quickly. Once the tactics used on her site were discovered – it was banned.  Just goes to show there is no discrimination when it comes to banning an offending website. The information below will give you a head’s-up on what not to do and help keep your site from getting slapped.

Seven ‘Black Hat’ Search Engine Tactics to Avoid

1.  Keyword Stuffing 

The use of the same keyword repeatedly. This was a common search engine tactic in the late 1980’s through early 1990’s but is now recognized by the search engine spiders and should not be used.

Meta tags


Title tags

Example:   title tags – New York, New York, New York, New York, New York , New York, New York, New York, New York, New York , New York, New York, New York, New York, New York

Image ‘alt’ and ‘title’ tags”Keyword

Example:   image ‘alt’ and ‘title’ tags – ”

Header tags

 –  These tags are used to highlight sections of a page by using  a very small font size to insert information onto the page (typically at the bottom) that may not be seen by the visitor but would be picked up by the search engine spiders.  The smaller the number the larger the font, i.e.

would have a very large font;

would have a very small font.

This is a sample of a header 6

2.  Invisible or hard to see text

This method hides the keywords from the visitor by using a font color that is the same color (or a shade so close as to appear almost invisible) as the background. Although the viewer cannot see these words, the spiders can. As with the ‘keyword stuffing’ this used to be a common practice used for ranking, however, the search engine spiders are now able to single out this offense. Note: This method is probably the quickest way to get your page banned.

3.  Using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to hide keyword text

While the visitor to your site cannot see the CSS packed with keywords, the search engines can. However, should the offending site be reviewed by humans – serious consequences could occur that would cause the site not to rank well.

4.  Hidden links 

Use of links written in invisible text ( see 2 above) to direct the search engine spiders to another page that viewers do not have access to because they cannot see the link itself. In this case, the offending link(s) would be embedded on a page that takes the search engine spiders to a secondary page that has been built in an effort to get the secondary page ranked. Once the secondary page comes up in the top search results for the targeted keywords, the viewer is ‘redirected’ to a separate sales page after clicking on the link in the search results.

5.  Invisible image 

This tactic makes use of an image so small (1 pixel x 1 pixel ) that it is virtually invisible – but has the ‘alt’ description packed with keywords. These super small images have also been used as ‘hidden links’ to re-direct the search engine spider to another page.

6.  Pointer Pages 

This consists of quickly building  and uploading multiple pages around a ‘long tail keyword’ string. [ A long tail keyword is a search string of keywords that are relevant to your product or niche.] Once the visitor is on one of these pointer pages, they are directed to yet another page for the purpose of converting a sale. Pointer pages or gateway pages are used when the ‘sales’ page may not have the same ability of being optimized for the search engines.

7.  Lack of unique content 

Do not copy or duplicate content being used by everyone else – regardless if it relates to your product or niche. This is especially true if you are in niche marketing or offering a clickbank product. All of the information available and offered by the product merchant is the same, exact information being used by everyone else out there promoting that product. And, while repetitive use of this information is technically not considered ‘spam’ – having this exact same content on your page or website that everyone else is using may get your site banned.


Thoughtfully researched and targeted efforts can deliver excellent search engine results without resorting to the use of ‘black hat’ methods. Don’t let yourself fall into – or get talked into – the ‘get ranked overnight’ trap. Arm yourself with good information and learn more about the ever-changing search engines by subscribing to Planet Ocean published monthly. The professionals at Planet Ocean stay on the cutting edge of what’s happening in the search engine world. By following their recommendations you can keep your website and pages ranking in the top search results for your keywords.

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Want to check out your competition? Want to see if a page on the Net is using any of these sneaky little tricks we’ve discussed? You can easily see all the text -both visible and invisible – by using Control + A. This will highlight everything on a page – including what you’re not supposed to see.

( Some ‘invisible’ text has been placed below.  Try using the Control + A to read what it says.)

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