All companies engage in SEO/SEM tactics to get their websites noticed, but not all of them adhere to ethical (white hat) methods to climb their way to the top, or at the very least, the first page of the Google search results. Some companies try to get away with using black hat (unethical) SEO/SEM practices to garner more traffic to their page. However, this is not something Google stands for and quickly penalizes these companies. One way that a company might use black hat practices is through hidden text. This is done by taking specific keywords, that might not have to do with the website, making the font white, reducing it to zero, and adding it to their page (Ethical SEO vs Unethical SEO, n.d.). Another is by duplicating content to spam the search engine results (Ethical SEO vs Unethical SEO, n.d.). And a third one is using false doorways (Ethical SEO vs Unethical SEO, n.d.). There are many more black hat methods, and they’re to be avoided at all costs. Unless you’re fine with Google laying the hammer down on you.
WordPress and False Doorways
One website that used black hat methods to garner organic traffic is WordPress. Yes. You read that right. The site I am using right now to write this post has, in the past, used unethical SEO practices. “In March of 2005, WordPress was penalized for the use of doorway pages” (Ratcliff, 2016). Doorway pages spam the search engine results with different links that send you to the exact same place. Once Google found out about WordPress’s unethical SEO tactics, WordPress’s page rank was reduced to zero for two days! (Ratcliff, 2016). In 2016, that would have been a huge hit to WordPress, potentially losing nearly 10 million in traffic (Ratcliff, 2016).
Ethical vs Unethical SEO: A Distinction
Ethical practices of SEO/SEM strategies are honest. They don’t create spam and they don’t trick users into visiting your site. Unethical practices use tactics that guide visitors to sites they never intended to visit by using hidden keywords, spam, and misleading links.
White Hat Benefits
So, be ethical in your SEO/SEM practices. Use white hat tactics and avoid black hat tactics. There are far more benefits to using ethical tactics. Because, if your company decides to use black hat methods not only will Google blacklist you when they find you (and they will find you), but the new visitors that you tricked onto your site or your desired landing page, will likely not return and you’ll lose not only their trust but the trust of the visitors that once frequented your site. It’s really not worth the risk.
Ethical SEO vs Unethical SEO. (n.d.). Optimus. Online Thinking. Retrieved April, from https://optimus01.co.za/ethical-seo-vs-unethical-seo/.
Ratcliff, C. (Sept 2016). 12 Companies Hit With a Google Manual Penalty. Search Engine Watch. Retrieved April, from https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2016/09/22/12-companies-hit-with-a-google-manual-penalty/