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SEO Do’s & Don’ts: Black Hat vs. White Hat Tactics

The good news: the previous lesson taught you how to optimize your site for best rankings and traffic growth. The bad news: it might take a few weeks or months to see your rankings change and traffic grow.

As a result, SEO professionals will often turn to questionable tactics to speed up the process. Some tactics are seen as okay tactics, also known as “white house tactics”, while others are BIG no no’s, “black hat”.

Trust us, black hat tactics are something you don’t want to get caught doing – especially with Google. In the presentation below, we review white hat tactics and black hat tactics so you know which activities you’re safe doing.

Getting Caught

If your site gets penalized for questionable tactics, you’ll know. Rankings will drop, traffic will drop and conversions will decline. However, there are two types of penalties to be on the lookout for: a manual penalty and an algorithmic penalty.

Manual penalty

Both Google and Bing will send you a message notifying you of a penalty in your site’s Webmaster Tools dashboard. Both will also apply the penalty to your site’s rankings or de-index (or delist) your site altogether.

Depending on the penalty, it could target individual pages, every page or your entire domain.

Algorithm penalty

Algorithmic penalties are a bit trickier to track. Google and Bing consistently update their spam algorithm and typically, you won’t know if an algorithm was released until it’s announced or you see your rankings drop.

You can, however, check Moz’s Mozcast which reports fluctuations in Google’s spam algorithm and significant rankings changes.

How to Get Out of the Penalty Box

In the event you do get penalized, there is hope to getting back into the search engine’s good graces. For manual penalties, you simply look into what the message explains your site was flagged for. If it’s for suspicious links on your site, for instance, you would remove the links and then submit a reconsideration request.

If you suspect your site was affected by a recent algorithm update, then you should research what the algorithm penalized sites for. In the past, algorithm updates targeted sites with duplicate content, too many outbound links (even if they were for legitimate sites), keyword stuffing or even poor site speed.

Recovering from algorithmic penalties will take longer to rebound from, especially because you must do an in-depth site audit to clean up your site. Remove any spammy links, improve any content that could be considered poor quality and re-write all title tags and meta description if they aren’t unique. A site-wide cleanup will take time but it’s imperative you get it done as fast as possible so you can recover rankings and traffic, and ultimately your business.

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