MARK: Hi, Iím Mark Steinbrueck, and thisis Kurt Steinbrueck.
Weíre with OurChurch.
Com, and on this video weíre going to talk aboutblack hat SEO, or search engine optimization, and what the mortal sins to avoid in SEO.
This seems pretty scary, Kurt.
(laughs) Very scary.
KURT: Black hat, what is black hat SEO? Well,the term ìblack hat,î just so you know, is really a reference to the old TV Westernswhere the bad guy would always wear a black hat, and a white hat for the good guy.
Sothatís what itís referring to, people breaking the rules and all this kind of stuff, to tryto get ahead in the search engines.
Generally speaking, thereís usually nothingmorally wrong with whatís going on.
If youíre hacking peopleís sites, okay, thatís anissue.
But usually itís more of a risk-reward type thing.
The real risk here is that theseare things that the search engines have said, ìLook, if you do these things, weíre basicallygoing to treat you like youíre trying to manipulate us, and weíre just going to eitherpenalize you or kick you out.
î So imagine your site no longer in Google, and what thatwill do to your site.
Thatís the risk that youíre taking with these things.
Personally, I think theyíre things to avoid.
The trick is that theyíre also things that tend to work, and thatís really the seductionof it, right? If it didnít work, then nobody would even try to do it.
But they do work,and so people are lured into doing it because you can usually get quicker results, betterresults sometimes.
Itís just, if they find you, you lose everything.
Thatís the riskthat you take.
Itís kind of like if you cheat on a test.
If you can get it away with it and you have all the answers, you got 100 on the test.
Take the morals out of it.
(laughs) But if the teacher comes by and seesyou with your little sheet, then you failed the test, you got a zero, and probably ñ MARK: Kicked out of school.
Got in trouble with your parents,all that kind of stuff.
So thatís really what weíre talking about.
Weíre going tolook at some of the specific things with black hat.
Itís not everything, but itís justsomething to give you an idea of some of the major things to look out for.
The first one is keyword stuffing.
What thisis, usually it happens when somebody realizes that they can rank better in the search enginesbecause they used keywords on their site, and then they just went overboard.
They tookit too far.
So either theyíve just created a block of text that just had every keywordthey could think of, and they stuck it on the bottom of their page, or maybe they usedone keyword but they kept adding more and more and more and more.
Sometimes itís even a gradual thing.
Youstarted out and youíre like, ìWell, Iím not doing too well for this keyword, so Iímgoing to add it in on my page,î and then, ìIím still not doing as well, so Iím goingto add it a few more times,î and then after a few times of doing that, all of a suddenyou realize, ìIíve got this one keyword on here 50 times,î and itís not naturalat all.
It doesnít make any sense.
So when youíre just shoving all these keywordsin, thatís something that the search engines look for, and they can certainly penalizeyou for it.
Another thing is whatís called cloaking.
What cloaking is, is basically any time that you show the search engines different contentthan what youíre showing users.
This can be done in a couple of different ways.
Oneway is thereís HTML little coding tricks where you can actually determine if the personviewing your site is a Google bot or a person, like a real person or is it a search enginerobot, and deliver different content.
So youíre showing the search engines one thing, youíreshowing the people another thing.
Sometimes this is done for semi-legitimatereasons.
Maybe you want to show people something that looks like graphics, and the search enginescanít read that, so youíre like ìIíll just show the search engines all this realcontent, but the people I want to show graphics.
î Search engines still donít like it, evenif you think that thereís a legitimate reason to do it.
Sometimes itís a very illegitimate reason,and weíve had people who showed content to the search engines that was maybe about automotivestuff, and then the people go and click on the link and itís a gambling site or something.
Itís just completely different.
So whether it seems legitimate or not, you really wantto be showing the search engines the same content that youíre showing people.
Thatíswhat they want you to do, and thatís how you should do it.
Thereís two other ways that people cloakI want to mention, because these are actually more common.
One is to try to hide text bymaking it the same color as the background.
So youíre like, ìOkay, I donít really wantto show people this really optimized text that has all my keywords in it, so Iím goingto make it so they canít see it because itís the same color as the background, but thesearch engines will still be able to read it.
î Well, search engines can read colorstoo, so they know when youíre doing that.
The other thing is to hide it behind imagesand things like that, so you put the text in there, then you use some little codingtrick so that an image is displayed on top of it.
Thatís another thing.
They can usuallydetect that as well.
But just donít try to hide content.
Donít try to cloak things likethat.
Thatís bad news.
Another thing that happens is buying links.
Buying links is a pretty popular thing to do for a black hat thing, because links arereally very important in SEO.
When we first started out with search engines, everyonewas kind of trading links, because they found that that could help.
Then the search enginessaid, ìWeíre not going to count those anymore.
î So then people started buying links.
Thisis something that the search engines really started to crack down on.
There are ways todo it, because there are legitimate reasons to buy links, but if you donít follow themethods and the standards that the search engines give, then theyíll see it as youíretrying to manipulate their rankings.
Basically they say mark the links by identifyingthem as a paid link.
Just having something sponsored or whatever on it.
And then alsoadding a nofollow tag.
So if you do those, then theyíre fine with it, because youírebeing open with them.
Youíre saying, ìLook, I bought these links, but Iím not tryingto mess with your rankings at all.
I want this because I wanted that link there.
î Theyírefine with that.
But if you start to do it without those things, then theyíre goingto look at it as youíre trying to manipulate things and they can punish you.
They can alsopunish the site thatís selling you those links.
MARK: Yeah, thatís the interesting thing,is theyíll target both the selling site as well as the buying site and penalize bothof you.
KURT: Yeah, so itís dangerous for both.
Andbuying links is really just one of many linking schemes.
Thatís the next thing.
Itís kindof an all-inclusive concept, but thereís just a lot of link schemes out there, thingsthat people try to come up with to get links that are not legitimately gotten.
Theyírenot really people saying, ìHey, I love this content on this site so Iím going to linkto it,î itís just other ways of getting links.
Sometimes itís spammy blog comments.
We seethat a lot.
I have a couple of blogs, and Iím constantly deleting those.
Sometimespeople will create forum profiles, not to actually do anything on the forum; they justcreate the profile and put a link on there.
There are things called link pyramids wherethey create all these spammy links and they go through all these different sites thatlink to each other and link to each other, and they end up with a couple of sites atthe bottom that then link to your site.
The idea is that somehow the search engines wonítlook far enough down the pyramid to realize that all these spammy links are really justdirected at your site.
They can figure that out.
So thereís just a lot of things like thatthat you have to watch out for.
A lot of times, the people that are offering these thingsare not very forthcoming about that, so when youíre talking to someone about a link opportunity,if you will, a lot of times if you start hearing things like, ìHey, weíve put these thingsin place to protect you or to buffer you from the link building strategies that weíre doing,îthat should tell you that what theyíre doing is something that could get you in trouble.
MARK: Yeah, thatís a red flag.
If youíre doing legitimate linkbuilding, you donít have to buffer.
You donít have to protect yourself.
You want the searchengines to know those links are coming from you.
I think it brings up a good pointthat if an organization that does SEO for you is engaging in the black hat SEO practices,they donít have anything to worry about.
Itís all going to come back on you, the websiteowner, or the website itself.
So if your website were to get caught and banned or penalized,itís not going to have any effect on the company thatís performing that.
And you mayor may not have known that they were engaging in these kind of practices, so itís veryimportant for you to try to listen, as Kurt said, very carefully to the practices thatthey do.
Really, when it comes down to it, those kindof practices, those black hat techniques, will only work in the short-term, becauseGoogle and Yahoo and Bing have thousands of people that are paid to go out and manuallylook at websites that are doing these kind of things, that are hiding text or engagingother kind of black hat practices.
So they are very good at doing what they do, verygood at finding people or websites that are engaging in these kind of practices, and soit is a very short-term gain that you will get, and as a result you could have some verylong-term problems.
KURT: Yeah, absolutely.
There were some recentupdates when Google was going against a lot of these things, there were a lot of companiesthat lost everything.
And one other link scheme that I want to mention, just because itísbeen pretty popular lately, is something called private blog networks, which are basicallya network of thousands of blogs that you can buy into, and you then submit your own content,if you will, that can have some of your links on it.
The blogs are not really intended for users.
They try to tell you to put in legitimate content and everything, but generally speaking,itís usually a lot of spammy stuff that just has links.
But itís something that the searchengines have very specifically said ìDonít do this.
î Theyíve actually taken down severalof the private blog networks.
They have infiltrated them and figured out what they all are andjust wiped them out.
KURT: So itís something to avoid.
So as a summary, black hat SEO,the mortal sins to avoid: keyword stuffing, cloaking, buying links, and just overall linkschemes are things that you want to avoid.
As Kurt mentioned before, these are just afew of the many different things, black hat techniques that people engage in to try togain the system that you should try to avoid.
We want to thank you for taking the time towatch this video.
I hope that it has been informative.
If thereís anything that wecan do for you here at OurChurch.
Com to help you accomplish your goals or mission online,please email us at support@ourchurch.