Being in the industry as long I have it is amazing to see how far the art of search engine optimization has grown and yet how it has stayed the same. There are many SEO service providers and DIY search engine optimizers that still put their careers and websites at risk by performing bad SEO optimization. What we call “Black Hat SEO” in the industry. Times are still tough and small businesses might go with a more cost effective company for their SEO needs or perform their on-page optimization after reading a few blogs. I understand completely and thus here is a list of SEO tips that will get you thrown in the sin bin faster than a jack rabbit on a hot tin stove!
Keyword Phrase Stuffing
Old faithful! This one has been around since the day Al Gore invented the Internet! Basically it is exactly what it says. Take your keyword phrase you really want to rank high for and repeat it in any area you can find such as headings, titles, images, keywords and description tags. What is amazing is this is still happens today! Check out our friends (not) at http://www.viverosdesanjuan.com.mx/
Multiple Title Tags
To this day the title tag is still the most important place to insert your keywords for SEO purposes. Nothing wrong with that it sets the tone to the search engines what the specific web page is all about. But hey if one title tag works how about 2,3,or4?
Small or Nearly Invisible Text
Now search engine spiders “see” it and visitors don’t! Years ago you used to be able to make text exactly the same color as your background (white text on white background). It was easy for the search engines to see. So the cat and mouse game continued and the black hatters when off and started making the text just a few shades different than the background so using the same example the text had a yellow-ish tint to it. Thus the search engines saw it and did not ding you for this and visitors really did not.
Hidden CSS Div Tag
So this one might be a little technical for the DIY person but SEO companies can still perform this. Matter of fact, I ran into a site that posted this technique in 2008 and had comments form visitors from December of last year that said they were going to use it! Basically you use CSS (cascade style sheets) to layer images and text over SEO stuffed text. Only way to know it is happening is by reviewing your code so if you are using a SEO firm you need to check what your HTML code (right click-view source) on the web page to see.
So you get an email that says “would you be interested in you linking off your site to mine for $100 bucks a month? Let me know!” Hell yeah, not a bad way to make a few bucks and what if I get 5-10 of these bad boys it could be a nice little side income! This is where the line to this day turns Gray. Do the search engines frown on selling links? Oh yeah! Will they totally kill (ban) your site? Oh yeah! Do people still use the tactic of buying and selling links today? Yep! Is it still an effective way to raise in the rankings? Yep! Is it worth your business web site to do it? I say no.
But let’s say you did take the chance and sold links. If you get caught you are going to get banned and will have a very had time getting back in the good graces of the search engines. I have helped a bunch of sites get re-enlisted to both Google and Yahoo and I can tell you that Yahoo is nearly impossible. Had one site that took over 18 months to get re-enlisted in Yahoo and then kicked back out a year later for no reason at all. I did manage to get it back in again but by then the business sold the web site due to the economy. Google will give you one more chance but you need to work very hard as well. It will take minimum of three months but that will be best case scenario.
Hidden Links & The Pixel Trick
If hiding text was a no-no so is hiding links. The strategy works the same as hidden text as the search engine will see them yet visitors do not unless they hover over them. As for the pixel trick, it basically runs on the same principle where you create a 1×1 transparent image that equals 1 pixel and use that as a link. Make it very difficult for a visitor to find but the search engines did see it as big as a house. They see it today for what it is.
SEO Doorway Pages
You could say that these pages are still in play today and still work. Any page that talks about a specific topic like a blog post, like this post, is intended to be ranked for a specific set of keyword phrases. A true SEO doorway page is a page with very low quality content that ended in a call to action like “click here to enter”. At one time these pages worked very well until linking became a big factor in search engine rankings.
I’m thinking that a Hidden CSS Div Tag, artfully done, with the ability to expand via a button would pass muster w/ Google and also offer additional content to your users without totally mucking up the appearance of the page.
I think you said something that is import when saying “artfully” done. If the design or use of CSS is done with “good” intent you should be fine.