Marketing companies have a reputation for delving into the latest cultural trends. And with the introduction of the Internet to the marketplace in the early 1990’s, the SEO era of marketing is no different. Everyone and every business wants to tap into the best optimization strategies, no matter how odd or scammy they may seem, in order to stay ahead of the system.
That being said, search engine optimization has seen some pretty wild fads. Luckily, Google works as the internet fashion police to lead sheepish websites and marketing teams in the appropriate direction. Let’s take a look at some of the most appalling SEO trends that, like your mom’s old prom photographs, we wish we didn’t see.
Black Hats-What Were They Thinking?!
When the internet was first created, searches had no order. Google began developing web updates to their algorithm to refine these searches and deliver relevant results for queries. However, sneaky ranking manipulators turned to deceitful tactics to increase their position.
Analysts discovered trends in keywords and linking that could be implemented in order to jump to the top of search engine results pages. They dressed their websites in the most hideous content through what is known as “black hat” tactics. On the opposite end of the spectrum from “white hat” ethical tactics, this schemey method of performing SEO involved:
- keyword stuffing, or stating and restating keywords as many times over as possible in pages, meta descriptions, and alt tags
- link-farming: implementing random links from any site they could find
- adding invisible or hidden text on pages
- creating doorway pages (pages that could not be seen by visitors, but served to add to the indexing performed by search engine spiders)
- large amounts of duplicate content
For users, this meant finding out how many keywords could a keyword stuffer stuff if a keyword stuffer could stuff keywords. And if this wasn’t annoying enough while trying to find real, quality content, a jumble of irrelevant links lead them in the wrong direction. This made it almost impossible for visitors to find what they were searching for online.
50 Shades of Gray SEO
But, lets not forget about the gray hat SEO do-ers: the persons who didn’t quite commit fully to the unscrupulous black hat nor ethical tactics. Gray hat SEO created some blurred lines for search engines with SEO methods that were nothing short of questionable. Sites with gray hat SEO methods look similar to that of the black hat methods, yet to a more slight degree with minor keyword stuffing, cloaking (hiding content), and duplicate content. Gray hat tactics may utilize a mixture of black hat methods and white hat methods to increase page ranking.
Yet perhaps the most notable trend that coincides with gray hat SEO is purchasing links. Sites achieve this through paying other websites and advertisers to link back to their site to add credibility. It may work, but since it is not natural growth, it is frowned upon.
When it comes to SEO fads, gray hat SEO is like the notorious mullet. As with attempting to make a mixture of short and long hair fashionable, trying to combine both black hat and white hat tactics just doesn’t work.
2013 SEO and What’s Hot
While black and gray hat tactics may have been in the spotlight as an effective method for increasing ranking, cheating the system soon became a thing of the past. And for this we thank the almighty Google for bestowing the Internet with Panda and Penguin updates so that these trends won’t resurface. These algorithm updates demote and even banish sites using poor SEO practices. Boy, were they ugly.
If Google had a “What’s Hot and What’s Not” magazine, white hat practices would be on the front page for the best trends for 2013. Because they are ethical, white hat tactics are classic and timeless. Don’t be afraid to take part in the white hat SEO trend by:
- creating original, relevant content tailored to queries
- using quality meta descriptions, H1 and H2 tags, and alt tags with specified keywords
- linkbuilding and generating credible links through other sites and social media
- generating new content frequently and keeping visitors engaged
This is one trend that anyone can look good with. Your mother would approve!