Black Hat SEO - Dont Do It!

This aint a cheat sheet so if thats what you are looking for go elsewhere. This section covers the main Black Hat SEO techniques that SEO companies have/will/do employ when optimizing sites. By comparing your site against the examples give and then referring to the Search Engine guidelines you can understand what has been done to your site.

Black Hat SEO - Hidden Text

This is an old favouite of Unethical Search Engine Optimization companies and comes in two main ways: the abuse of the noscript and noframes tags within sites and background color manipulations. The Search Engine specifically state that hidden text is a bad thing to do. Dont take our word for it read their terms and conditions.

If you look at the code for your site you may often see that there is content, fully formatted content, in the code flow that does not appear in the browser window. Often this will be in a noscript or noframes tag. Unless you have a good reason for the text being in these tags; such as having a javascript based menu system that is unspiderable and the content of the tags is a html version of the menu or that your website is in a frameset, it is likely that your website is spamming the search engine using hidden text.

The other favourite is making the text the same colour as the background colour. Boy is this an oldie! Here you can see the content in the code flow it is also often noticeable to users through the fact that at the bottom of the page there will be a large gap. IF you click and drag your pointer over this area if text becomes visible hidden text is in use.

Why do SEO companies hide text?

Truthfully we have no idea. Content is what helps you convert visitors into sales. By having good quality content you can convert visitors to sales far more effectively than by only having a few lines of copy. We know that a lot of people want to be number one in the search engines and believe that the content they have onscreen is going to convert visitors to sales. The rationale that a webuser wants information wuaickly and efficently is correct but this means of giving them what you think they want is flawed. Just check your web analytics package, if you dont have one see the free Google system at http://www.google.com/analytics/, and see what your bounce rate is. Often you will see thast sites using hidden text have higher bounce rates than those with onscreen content. By hiding the text that has made you important you have automatically reduced the likelihood that your site rankings accurately reflect your sites contents. If a user does not find the service, product or content they were searching for quickly they will leave. By putting your content on screen you give the users the maximum capacity to be fully informed about what you sell. What hiding text does is minimise your conversion rate.

Why do conSEOquences reject the use of hidden text?

Outside of the fact that is specifically listed as a ranking technique not to use by the Search Engines and if picked up by the Search Engines you can be penalised. Internet Marketing is about converting vistors into sales. Text helps and enhances this process. Even with low traffic figures simply by changing the text and layout of a site you can increase the numbers who convert from that sample. This conversion is central to your business. You dont want browsers of merchandise. You want sales. By hiding your content from the user you minimise your conversion rate through preventing the customer to find what they want as simply as they may do otherwise.