One of the readers on my blog wanted to know if Black Hat Strategy and Over Optimization were two sides of the same coin. It was an interesting question; and most certainly deserved a reply. Later on I thought of publishing it on my blog for public consumption; thinking may be many more visitors might find the information useful, even if they have not given this aspect a thought.
Everything that I intend to write in this post is my own view on both the terms; and therefore open to discussion and dissection. I welcome criticism, addition, whatever. My aim is that the final product should be of help to the reader who visits this page and that he leaves the page with a satisfaction that he got to learn something.
Problems & Consequences Related to Both:
To begin with Black Hat Strategy is a broader term that covers broader area of operation as well as concern, where as over optimization is a relatively narrower subject having narrower impact; both are equally dangerous nevertheless. I don’t think it will be wrong to say that Black Hat SEO encompasses over optimization; in other words, over optimization can be a part of Black Hat SEO.
Over optimization is primarily about overstuffing pages of your website, forum, or blog, with keywords, key phrases and key sentences that you have chosen to optimize your blog with. Repeated use of or composing sentences that not only mean the same thing but also have common words appearing often and again in them is termed as over optimization or over stuffing web content with keywords. Website owners, especially the beginners and SEOs who don’t know their job well are practicing this as ancient as Stone Age technique even today without knowing that it does not work at all.
We are no longer required to draw spider’s attention to our site or blog by shouting from the rooftop that we exist or “hey, we are here, look at us!” Such old techniques are a passé. The spiders have become very smart and sophisticated over time and a simple gesture is enough for them to take notice of us. As long as the content is flowing naturally, giving an impression of talking to readers (not at them), and displaying genuine product or service information succinctly – its enough for spiders to understand and evaluate the site as far as content is concerned.
In short over optimization is over use of keywords which generally happen as a result of over enthusiasm or lack of knowledge.
Black Hat strategies on the other hand are about using unfair means to promote a blog or website on the World Wide Web. They are strictly prohibited as per rules set by various Search Engines and in spite of knowing this some people take the risk.
Over optimization is limited to written content on the website; whether it is body content, title and other Meta Tags, or incomplete source codes like image alt tags etc where keywords are added in excess or over-used at all these places – such a thing is treated as over optimization. Black hat SEO goes beyond content on the site and covers web design, interlinking structure, web architecture, offsite optimization strategies – when all or any of these techniques are manipulated and used for misguiding the search engine spiders; then such a practice is called black hat strategy.
When it comes to over optimization, Google rejects over optimized sites from being ranked or placed high on search engine temporarily, but when webmaster of such a site identifies the reason behind his site or blog not being indexed or growing, they correct such mistakes, post which spiders start re-visiting and re-indexing the site as before and gives it the standing it deserves. This punishment of burying the site deep in search engine may last as long as mistakes are not rectified; once they are, search engine spiders pick up these sites again and they are back in the race. In most everage cases this happens.
However consequences of black hat strategies are quite different. Since this strategy is almost always applied with wrong intentions and not executed out of ignorance, the consequences are far more risky. And worst still is spiders are able to distinguish Black Hat SEO from over-optimized sites. Depending on the type of black hat strategy one has implemented, the punishment will vary. From being temporarily terminated from search engines to permanently rejecting the forum, website, or blog, the owner may have to face anything.
Black Hat SEO is almost always done intentionally over optimization can sometimes be a result of lack of knowledge or over-enthusiasm like mentioned earlier. However Google and other search engines do not treat over optimization as illegal, they like to put it as something not advisable; whereas black hat strategies are a clear cut illegal tools which no website is allowed to use, failing which they may face irreparable consequences. Black Hat SEO can damage reputation of blog or site permanently.
When over stuffing is beyond excessive and nothing gets done about it, in such a situation the spiders may decide to black list such sites but preferably before that they are seen to convey the website owner via e mail to fix the site. But black hat sites get no such notice. When a website or blog that is black listed because it was using black hat strategy, such a site or blog owner is not left with any chance to recover from the loss but to replace the existing URL with a new one.
Both over optimization as well as black hat SEO can take place offsite as well as onsite. But one is more dangerous than the other. One causes harm to the site or blog more than the other. One is done out of ignorance or with a purpose of drawing attention of spider to one’s blog while the other is done with the purpose of pulling a fast one on the spiders and the guys who are behind creating this software. Both are not right, but one is more wrong than the other, if that can be accepted as an expression.
However silly it may sound but there is a certain metric called keyword density that all webmasters and SEOs are expected to abide by and observe. Keyword density should not exceed 5% per page. With sophisticated software of today even less is fine.
Point number two is that it is better to not use the exact keyword or phrase over and again all through the site, a slight change in the way it appears will be better appreciated by spiders as it looks more natural and gels well with the flow of writing; when this rule is broken a black hat strategy like situation crops up. More so when webmaster or the SEO stuffs the web page with words that are not relevant to the content at all.
When content written is invisible then it is clearly a black hat strategy. When anchor text within the site (interlinking) and those linking your blog or site with other relevant sites or blogs sound ditto, it’s a bad practice as per modern SEO standards and can harm your site or blog in the long run.
In general just be very careful with the most important tag on your site, the title tag. Most important keyword or phrase should appear in it. The secondary keywords/phrases can appear either in first para or you can also create titles. Using synonyms for your primary and secondary keywords will go to strengthen the force with which you are targeting your keywords.
If these points are kept in mind, it will do a great deal of good for websites as well as webmasters saving them from unnecessary problems and time, and money. Black Hat Strategy or Over Optimization both are finally not good for the site so the earlier the webmaster understands this, the better it will be for his business in the long term. In one sentence – the product, the intention to sell, the information, the communication – everything has to be genuine and should sound natural and normal.
Every page on the web should be developed with a human being in mind, least attention should be paid to what will spiders like; because the modern spiders are a smart lot, they will know what will be appreciated by human visitors and will judge sites accordingly.
If you have something new to add, you are welcome; if you don’t agree with something, please feel free to convey; if you think something is not explained clearly, I will give it another try, but do say something. Coming from readers will mean a great deal for me, for the blog and most importantly will prove to be of great help for the readers.