In order to provide high value, meaningful responses to queries, search engines typically “crawl” through indexed site content looking for matching keywords, metatag information, internal and external links, and volumes of other data which can then be used to sort search results by relevance. Since the popularity and value of a search engine depend on its ability to deliver relevant content, search engines must constantly find ways to make sure that their sorting methods are effective and can’t be manipulated by webmasters trying to push their own sites to the top of search result lists. But webmasters have a lot to gain by doing this, since higher search rankings mean increased traffic and more customers.
So search engines are constantly looking for ways to improve their results, and webmasters are constantly looking for ways to use result-sorting methods their advantage. This tension motivates frequent change and closely guarded secrecy in the algorithms used to rank search results. It also tempts webmasters to resort to unscrupulous tactics in order to game the system.
Straightforward SEO methods, known as “white hat” practices, involve raising rankings by improving the overall quality of a site and increasing its correlation with relevant user searches. “Black hat” strategies focus on pushing content to the top of search results without regard to relevance. These practices include the use of hidden text, cloaking, and other forms of deception, many of which are likely to have a site banned from a search engine’s index. But they’re still practiced by those who hope to avoid discovery and reap as much illegitimate attention as possible before being caught.
Don’t be tempted by sketchy maneuvers that may or may not temporarily increase your page rankings. Even if they aren’t illegal, these moves can cause lasting harm to your reputation and your bottom line. And over the long term, they lead nowhere, since they’ll lose their value with the very next algorithm change. Steer clear of fake SEO strategies, and by all means, don’t pay for them. Instead, find a digital marketing firm that can help you raise your traffic and implement long term, high-value solutions that will make your customers and stakeholders proud. Contact SevenAtoms for tips and guidance.
Image By: Sean MacEntee