Now that eBay has bit the dust and lost 80% of its best organic search rankings last week (thanks to the new Google Panda 4.0 algorithm update), it’s that time for all digital marketers to really reflect on their own web best practices.

Before last week, eBay had pretty good organic search ranking, most likely showing up on the first page of results – dream real estate for all online retailers. However, thanks to the site’s practice of using ridiculous, shady practices and processes to be at the top, the major retailer site is now suffering…badly. What went wrong?

For one, eBay was using an automated process that inserted any term the user just so happened to be typing into the search bar into an ad. This produced awful results such as “vomit for sale” ads.

In addition to implementing these lazy, irrelevant ads, eBay not only made itself look dumb to searchers, it cost them a ton of money and provided no ROI whatsoever. By failing to follow the most basic paid search practices, (like using negative words so you aren’t appearing in ads for vomit), it made searches unreliable and difficult for the user – something Google doesn’t want.

What’s more, when the user clicked on an eBay ad, it would take them to a landing page that provided nothing but a few links and very little content.

What is White SEO?

White SEO techniques are the ones that are recommended by Google in their Webmaster Guidelines and adhere to Google’s terms and conditions. White hat SEO techniques involve thorough keyword research to choose a solid keyword that accurately represents your site and placing these keywords in content that provides quality, useful information for the reader or visitor. White hat techniques maintain the practice of improving search rankings without compromising the integrity of your website. This includes, according to WordStream:

  • Offering quality content and services
  • Using descriptive, keyword-rich meta tags
  • Making your site easy to navigate

What is Black Hat SEO?

While we understand that every marketer and business owner wants to be ranked at the top of search results as quickly as possible, it’s important that you don’t use black hat SEO practices to get there. What exactly constitutes as ‘black hat SEO practice’? These are deceptive practices the manipulate the search engines perception of relevance of a web page. It doesn’t follow the search engines’ quality guidelines and degrades the user experience. The litmus test for determining whether a practice is “black hat” versus “white hat” is asking the question, “will this help the user searching for the information or the ranking for the distributor?” While both white hat and black hat practices both focus on improving search engine rankings, black hat is deceptive and, according to search engines like Google and Bing, need to be penalized. Although black hat practices have the appeal of being quick fixes for subpar rankings, whatever you do, do not turnover to the dark side!

Below are the 4 major Black Hat SEO practices to avoid:

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is the practice of packing relevant keywords into your website content even if it’s not making sense. It lowers the user-friendliness and quality of your site to get a temporary boost in rankings in return. Google will usually flag this down within a couple of days.

Instead: Instead, make sure you’re always creating and including quality content on every page of your website, including any blogs you regularly update.


Tiny or Hidden Content

Content that’s stuffed internally and intentionally within the code of the website. This content is stuffed with keywords that aren’t visible to the end user. Another bad practice is putting illegible text at the bottom of a site.

Instead: Only write content that is meant to be read, contrast the text with a good background color and make sure that links are easily visible.


Doorway Pages

Pages that are stuffed with keyword phrases to get a high ranking but will automatically redirect users to separate, sometime unrelated page.

Instead: create high quality landing pages that provide useful information for humans, not robots.


Link Farms

Finding links to or links from sites that are unrelated to your business or provides low quality content in an attempt to boost rankings in search engine results pages.

Instead: Link to or even request links to sites that are reputable and can provide supporting content for your content.